Most of us know that cardio exercise is beneficial to the body. It helps burn calories and lose weight, and keeps the heart and the lungs healthy, while also providing you with energy. Cardio may also help prevent and/or manage certain types of cancer, protect you from diabetes and help you avoid metabolic syndrome. Still, while we know that cardio is the best thing we can do for our health, it does not make it any easier for us to start. Particularly, when it’s been a long time since we’ve done some form of cardio. So, how can you get started? This step-by-step guide will help you take the leap and get back into cardio.
Getting Started With Cardio
1. Choose an activity that you enjoy: The best form of exercise for you is something that you would most definitely enjoy. Walking is a great place to start and no equipment is needed. Cycling, swimming, aerobics, rowing and dancing are other forms of cardio which you may find to be more enjoyable. Bear in mind that any activity may feel difficult, so don’t rule something out if you find it to be challenging the first time.
2. Set up a simple schedule: When you’re just starting out it’s hard to know how much exercise your body can handle. Aim for three days of exercise per week if you’re just starting out. This will allow you to get a feel for how your body responds to exercise and how it feels to stick to a workout schedule.
Begin your routine with a 5-10 minute warm up of light cardio and gradually increase your heart rate. Increase your pace and intensity to slightly harder than comfortable and go for as long as you comfortably can. End each workout with a cool down of light cardio. At this moment you can stretch and relax, keeping your muscles flexible.
3. Don’t worry about distance or pace: For the first few weeks, focus on showing up and building time. Once you’ve accomplished this you can then focus on speed and distance. A good time to do so is after 4 to 6 weeks. At this time, you can change your routine by adding another day of exercise, increasing your pace or intensity, and adding a new activity.
Tips for Better Workouts
1. Good shoes are a must!
2. Start slow: Overdoing it can lead to injuries. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable and slowly push your limits for each workout.
3. Try new activities: With routine, your body gets used to your work out schedule. And doing the same thing can lead to boredom and injuries. Once you’ve perfected an activity, challenge yourself with something new.
4. Stay hydrated and eat well: Prior to exercise, make sure that your body is well hydrated and you’ve eaten a substantial meal.
5. Take the time to rest: If you’re feeling sore or tired, give yourself some time off. Bear in mind that every day is different. You’ll have more energy on some days than others.
How Hard Should You Work?
When doing cardio it’s important that you monitor your intensity. You can do this in the following ways:
1. Monitor how you feel throughout your workout: Ranking your workout on a scale of 1 to 10. For a moderate workout aim to be at about a level of 5 or 6 – a level that would make you feel that you’ve exercised, but not out of your comfort zone.
2. The talk test: In this simple exercise, if you can talk easily during exercise then you can probably push a little harder. If you can talk in short sentences then you are exercising at a moderate pace. If you’re feeling breathless, you’re out of your comfort zone.