Cardio is important for losing weight, boosting energy and improving overall health. However, it isn’t always easy to get started or stay consistent.
Many gym-goers focus on the details of their lifting routines, but often skip over cardio sessions or fall short on their frequency and duration goals. Thankfully, with the right tips, your cardio workouts can be more enjoyable and effective.
1. Be Prepared
Cardiovascular exercise is any form of exercise that increases the heart rate and respiration while using large muscle groups to move your body repetitively. It improves the function and performance of your internal organs, while promoting healthy weight regulation, mood and sleep.
Finding ways to make cardio more enjoyable is important to ensure that you are motivated enough to stick with it and get results. Working out with a friend is an excellent way to stay accountable and also makes the workout more fun.
Another great option is to try group fitness classes. These are lead by a trainer and can help you to push yourself harder than you could on your own. They are also an excellent way to meet new people and build a community of like-minded fitness friends. You can also use a fitness watch to monitor your intensity and keep track of your progress over time.
2. Stay Hydrated
When you exercise, you’re going to sweat, and that means you’re losing fluids. Hydration is vitally important because it helps maintain healthy tissue, promotes thermoregulation and aids in nutrient transport.
It’s best to hydrate throughout the day to prevent dehydration before you start working out, but it’s especially important to do so during exercise. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps and even lead to heat stroke, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
It’s recommended to drink 8 ounces of water two hours before your workout and then sip 16 ounces of water every 30 to 60 minutes during exercise, depending on your comfort level, activity and environmental conditions, says Natalie Rizzo, an MS, RD, plant-based sports dietitian with Greenletes in New York City. Be sure to avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine, since they are diuretics and can speed up fluid loss.
3. Listen to Music
Research suggests that people who exercise with music tend to work out longer and harder than those without. But the right type of music is crucial. Two things to consider when putting together your playlist are tempo and beats per minute (BPM).
When people move in time with the beat of the music, they require 7 percent less oxygen than people who do not synchronize their movements with music. This may help them exercise for a longer period of time, as they will not have to make as many adjustments to their movement.
The other benefit of music is that it distracts people from the negative physical sensations of fatigue and encourages them to power through. This effect is most pronounced during lower intensity exercise. The uplifting lyrics and emotions that music can evoke can elevate mood, encouraging people to ride out the waves of fatigue.
4. Stay Motivated
If you find it difficult to maintain motivation for a cardio workout, try breaking your session into smaller increments. It will take less energy to complete small sessions, so you won’t feel as burned out by the end of it.
Another way to stay motivated is to exercise with a friend if possible. This will make the time go by faster & you’ll have someone to hold you accountable if your mind starts to wander during a set.
Also, don’t forget to reward yourself! It doesn’t have to be a big purchase, but even something as simple as a manicure or facial can help keep you on track. Just remember to only use rewards as a reward, not a replacement for exercise. Otherwise, you’ll quickly fall out of your fitness routine!
5. Keep Moving
A cardio routine is one of the most important components of an overall exercise program. It helps boost energy levels, burn calories and reduce body fat. It’s also a great way to stay motivated throughout the pandemic.
A good cardio workout should consist of low to moderate-intensity exercise. You should break a sweat and be out of breath, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Try adding an incline to your run or taking the stairs for an extra calorie burn. Another easy exercise is walking lunges. To perform a lunge, start with your feet together and core engaged. Jump your legs apart while swinging your arms overhead and clapping, then bring them back to the starting position. Repeat as many times as you can without losing form. You can also add a front kick to this move for added calorie burn.
6. Stay Focused
When it comes to cardio, minutes can feel like hours and repetitions can be monotonous. To get the most out of a workout, it is important to keep your mind focused on what you are doing. This will help you stay motivated and push yourself to your maximum potential.
A good way to do this is by monitoring your effort through the Perceived Exertion Scale or even using your heart rate to track intensity. You want to be able to talk during your workout without getting out of breath, but don’t push yourself too hard that you are out of breath all the time.
Also, try to make cardio a habit by making it part of your daily routine. It can be done in short bursts throughout the day or even in a class with other people.
7. Keep Stretching
Whether you’re running up the stairs or taking an elliptical class, cardiovascular exercise—also known as cardio—is an essential part of any fitness routine. It gets your blood pumping, which helps keep your heart and lungs healthy, improves endurance and increases overall health.
It’s generally recommended to do more dynamic stretches, like the Standing Cat-Camel, before starting your workout rather than static stretches (the classic hold-a-stretch type moves you might think of when it comes to flexibility training). This is because static stretches can reduce strength, power and explosiveness, which may decrease your performance during your workout.
It’s also important to spend a few minutes stretching at the end of your workout. This will help your muscles, lungs and heart rate return to normal more easily. It also prevents stiff and tired muscles from getting injured as you cool down.
8. Change Up Your Routine
Your body will plateau if it gets used to the same routine, and you won’t see the results you want. Mixing up your cardio workout will make it more enjoyable and help you get the most out of your exercise.
Try running or cycling at a different pace, or even changing up your terrain. Hills and interval training can challenge your muscles and boost cardiovascular conditioning.
If you don’t enjoy going to the gym, find a friend or training partner to join you. Working out with someone keeps you motivated and accountable, and exercising together makes time go by faster.
Regular cardio exercise also helps improve your breathing and may help your immune system fight off colds and flu. That’s because it increases blood flow to the lungs, which makes it easier to transport germ-fighting molecules around your body.
9. Don’t Overdo It
Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is any type of activity that elevates your heart rate and burns calories. It is also known as aerobic exercise and can include jogging, biking, swimming, or group fitness classes. Although cardio can be a great way to lose weight, it is important not to overdo it. Spending hour after hour on the treadmill or road can actually be counterproductive and decrease your overall fitness levels. Instead, try bumping up the intensity by going uphill or increasing the incline on the treadmill to boost your calorie burn even more. Your Polar fitness watch can help you stay in the target heart rate zone and make sure your workout is effective and safe.
10. Be Consistent
The key to success with your cardio workout is consistency. If you can make it a habit to get your heart rate up three to four times per week, you’ll see results before you know it. Whether you’re doing your cardio first thing in the morning, at lunch or after work, it doesn’t matter when you exercise as long as you are consistent.
Cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, refers to any kind of workout or fitness routine that increases your breathing and raises your heart rate. It could be anything from running on the treadmill to a high-intensity workout class at your gym.
If the thought of box jumps or burpees is too daunting for you, try starting with low-impact exercises like walking and cycling or incorporating it into your strength training. The point is to exercise consistently and enjoy the results!