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Whether it’s jogging, dancing, sprinting, cycling, or climbing stairs, it’s all about cardio exercise. But other than a sweaty t-shirt, what do get from your workout? Are you exercising for the right amount of time or often enough to gain the full health benefits of cardiovascular fitness? In this week’s article find out why you should pick up cardio and stick to it!

Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise that increases the work of the heart and lungs, so anything from walking, jogging, and running are common forms of cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise. Some of the physical benefits of cardio exercise include reduced risk of heart disease, improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower risk of osteoporosis, weight loss, improved muscle mass and many more. According to the official recommendations adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week, and to improve cardiovascular endurance, the ideal is 20 to 60 minutes on three to five days per week.

Now that you know the benefits of cardio exercise, where should your fitness plan begin?

Make the most of your workout

There are a few tips to help you make the most of your cardio exercise workout. First of all, you should sustain your workout for 20-30 minutes three to four times per week. In addition, you need to make sure you are exercising the right way to burn calories and fat. The best way to find out if you are burning fat is to take your pulse halfway into your cardio workout for six seconds, then add a zero to that number. The number you get is your heart rate per minute.

Next you can calculate your zone. Take the number 220, then minus your age and then calculate 70% of that number for your target beats per minute. The number you get is your zone. If your heart rate halfway through your workout is over that 70% mark, it is a good idea to reduce the pace and if under, try to pick up the pace. However, math doesn’t come easy to all of us so another great way to find out your zone is to get a pulse monitor.

If you’re looking for ripped abs and toned arms, interval training will help get you there especially when combined with weights. Interval training consistently jump-starts your metabolism. By switching the intensity of your cardio workout, you push the muscle and let it relax over and over and this gives you maximum results. A good idea is to do weights during your recovery time, in order to get the benefits of both cardio exercise and weight training. So along with your cardio you can add a weight-training workout at least two times a week at 20-minute sessions. Cardio will burn the fat, and it’s the weight training that gives you the toned look you aspire for the summer!

Best Fat Burner?

Which cardio exercise will have the best results in burning fat? Running is the best option for calorie burning, whether it’s outside or on a treadmill, it’s the best exercise because you’re burning calories and you’re strengthening your legs and heart. Beginners should start with 20 minutes and work their way up. Interestingly, it takes about 20 minutes for your body to get going, and then your body starts to work at another level. Therefore, ideally you want to run for about 30 or 45 minutes at a moderate pace.

Split Up Your Workout

While it may not be the fastest way to a body built for the beach, splitting up your cardio exercise still has its benefits. In order to achieve the best results, and also in order to maintain a healthy heart, it is best to not split up your cardio workouts. You need the consistency of 20 minutes or more of an elevated pulse to ensure great results. However, something is better than nothing. If all the time you have is 10 minutes or even five minutes, it is better than sitting still; you will still be garnished benefits and lose weight.

Make things interesting

It’s true that cardio exercise can get boring after awhile. A good way to make it interesting again is to vary the mode, vary the place you train, the workout itself, the intensity and duration, the time of day etc. Aim to do different types of cardio exercises during the course of a week. And remember that too much repetition will fatigue muscles and you will plateau, which will slow your results down. By adding variety to your workouts you give muscle groups a chance to recover on their days off and you can maintain a steady progress.

Before starting a new exercise program, it is important to have a discussion with a health professional about types and levels of activity and any restrictions you may face. Keep in mind that in order to see improvements and make the most of your workout, motivation and consistency is the key! And of course regular exercise goes hand in hand with a healthy and balanced diet.

By Kleio Bathrellou
Associate Nutritionist & Certified Sports Nutritionist

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