Cardio-The First Of The Holy Trinity Of Fitness

VigorHere Is Where You Lose Weight-

When you think about fitness, you usually think of cardio first. To lose weight you have to get your heart rate up and nothing does that like cardio, hence they call it “cardio”. Designed to make you take your maximum physical exertion, it should ideally take you from resting to max and within that range over the course of the workout. Just staying at your highest possible rate for an entire hour is not good. Your body thrives on change and difference. I highly recommend that you buy a chest strap and put it on to monitor your heart rate; not only do you not want to go into your danger zone but you want to make sure that you are working hard enough to have your cardio do some good.


I workout at the gym BUT you can get a great workout at home, you just need the discipline. Working at  home can involve walking in your neighborhood, just make sure the pace is brisk enough. Hilly areas are great for getting your ticker to ramp up and bringing along some fast tempo music always helps. There are quite a few radio programs and albums on iTunes designed just for workouts and power walking. You can’t always walk as weather has a habit of getting in the way.

When it’s raining, too cold, or icy out there, you can get a few DVDs and use them at home. Check out the selection at Target or anyplace which sells athletic equipment, of course Google will help out here. You can find DVDs to suit you in any intensity from a killer “shred” to a gentler healing guided workout. Try an “interval” or “circuit” workouts where you combine one minute of your best exertion with one minute of rest, this burns tons of calories and strengthens your heart. Most of us need more of a push though, and so the calisthenics sort of a disc will do you more good in the long run but start off slowly if you haven’t been working out. Of course, do ask your doctor before starting on a fitness regimen, she/he will probably be delighted you finally got the message and will be part of your cheering section.

Keeping your enthusiasm with home workouts isn’t easy but one thing I have found which spurs me on in a private non-competitive way is to keep a diary of your efforts, and signing up for the app LoseIt is just about perfect for me. You log your daily activity there and it makes up charts for you, calculates your calorie burn, and there is a nifty forum for suggestions as to what you can try which is new. I thought this would be a hassle, it turns out to be one of the most simple motivating routines ever…just looking at your accomplishments will make you want to continue.

In A Gym-

Gyms are famous for their cardio arrays. Mostly classes at set times, they are a lot of fun and draw on your basic instincts to move with the herd. There are dance based workouts which will have you flying and laughing with the right instructor: Zumba is probably the most popular, and Latin Heat which is similar. More traditional cardio classes include: Step (considered “vintage” but still VERY effective), “Bootcamps” (hybrid strength and mad cardio), Spinning (group lead on a stationary bike, your rump needs time to adjust to the seat but enthusiasts adore it), and for the very enthusiastic there is Kickboxing/Cardio where you will perform burpees until you are exhausted.

In class, there is no slacking off and we have to admit that you can find yourself slacking at home unless you get out of the house and away from the icebox. Group fitness workouts provide another invaluable feature: enthusiasm. You never see anyone just stop and walk out in the middle of a group class. Just the exhilaration of being with others  while working your heart out satisfies a very primitive need. Maybe we are hardwired to hunt in packs and group fitness brings us back to those palmy days of our ancestors (minus the saber toothed pursuers).

Cardio Machines In The Gym-

Machines are not just for strength training, they are great for cardio as well. Try out the humble treadmill and don’t forget you can change it to an incline and burn even more calories. Ellipticals really burn up fat though some people have a hard time getting the knack of using them, you have to learn how to shift your weight and which way you like to have it go (frontwards or backwards). Stationary bikes can burn a lot or a little. If you sit on your rump and pedal in a leisurely style, it won’t do too much for you. Pedal like you are chasing Lance Armstrong and it will rack them up. Finally, I would like to put in a good word for a machine I have eyed but not used until recently, the Stair Climber. I was amazed at how high my heart rate was on it! It didn’t feel strenuous either, amazingly enough. I was bopping along at 155 bpm an not feeling out of breath at all. Go figure. I like that, I think you will do.

With all machinery, make sure you keep your attention on the machine. You can trip, fall, and get hurt unless you are aware of the moving parts and consequences of it all. I like to listen to books being read when I am on a machine, less possibility of injury for me, just a thought.

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