- Introduction – Understanding the importance of cardiovascular health to stay fit
- Cardio for beginners – Ease into it
- Get your heart rate going – Move it! Move it!
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If you are serious about keeping fit and feeling great, inside and out, you must understand the importance of making cardio workouts part of your fitness routine. The cardiovascular system is a complex system that is comprised of the heart and blood vessels, and it’s primary function is to deliver blood and oxygen to the bones and muscles. Our muscles require oxygen to aid in breaking down glucose (sugar) that goes into the bloodstream and creates a high energy molecule called ATP, which is vital to cell functioning. If your muscles are not receiving the proper amount of oxygen they will produce lactic acid and your muscles will feel sore and achey. Our bones also require oxygen In order for the bone marrow to produce blood cells and to keep the bones in good health. Red blood cells are the foundation of the immune system. Our entire body, including all of its organs, require oxygen to survive.
By including cardio workouts into your fitness routine, you will be doing one of the most important things you can do for your body. Cardio exercise is any exercise that produces large muscle movement over an uninterrupted stretch of time and keeps your heart rate to at least 50 percent of its maximum level. The key to getting the maximum benefits is to make it a habit and be persistent. You probably already do some type of cardio exercise and may not even realize it. That’s how simple it is!
There are numerous benefits to gain from doing regular cardio workouts. It can benefit you mentally as well as physically. You can lose weight, increase stamina, build muscle, ease stress, improve sleep quality and mental clarity.
Exercising the cardiovascular system is the main component in any fitness routine, whether your goal is to burn fat, build muscle or just stay fit. In doing so, your body will receive more oxygen and your heart and muscles will strengthen, enabling you to withstand longer periods of activity without tiring easily.
Our brain produces a chemical called serotonin, which is referred to as the “feel good” chemical. It is responsible for regulating our moods and overall sense of well being. Lower serotonin levels can results in feelings of depression, anxiety and feeling sleepy. Not sleeping well can aggravate the symptoms, thus creating a mental fog. Cardio Exercise increases production of serotonin and helps to alleviate the symptoms.
The first thing you should do before starting your exercises is check your resting heart rate and figure your maximum heart rate and target heart rate. You can figure your resting heart rate by using a watch with a second hand, and count how many times your heart beats in 10 seconds. Multiply the number of beats by six and the result will be your resting heart rate. To figure your maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220. This will indicate the highest rate that your pulse can get. In order to see results with your exercises you will need to get your heart rate up between 60 and 80 percent. This is considered your target heart rate and is important to maintain and just as important not to exceed as to avoid injuries. You will need to check your heart rate periodically to make sure you are not overdoing it. If you haven’t been very active it may take time to build up your target heart rate. If you feel dizzy, light-headed, or if your heart seems to be beating too fast at any time, stop and rest. It’s always a good idea to consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.
Now that you know the importance and benefits of keeping a healthy cardiovascular system I will give some exercises to help you with your goals. Keep in mind that these should be done along with a healthy diet. You can also add other exercises to target specific areas. You should plan for at least 30 minutes of cardio five or six days a week for optimal results. If you are a beginner start slowly and build your pace as you get more comfortable. Always try to push yourself a little longer than you think you can. If you have never exercised or have simply led a sedentary lifestyle, don’t worry! You can start out slowly and work your way up. The following exercises can be done at a slower pace to begin with and you can add more time and speed as you progress.
equipment: a good pair of running shoes
time duration: 20 minutes
This exercise will be comprised of walking and muscle stretching:
You will begin by walking And warming up to a comfortable pace. Make sure to keep good posture. Keep your body elongated and your head up. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Keep your abs and butt muscles tightened as you walk, and walk in a natural stride. it’s ok to carry along a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated.
While your muscles are still warm from your walk do five minutes of stretching exercises to help prevent soreness and stiffness in your muscles. Stretching also speeds up the healing process in your muscles. Another benefit is that it helps keep your body limber and more flexible. Sretch the muscles as far as you can but don’t overdo it or do it to the point that it’s too painful. Stretching after any cardio workout is very important. Don’t skip this step.
1. Begin walking at a comfortable pace and continue at that pace for five minutes.
2. After five minutes, pick up the pace some so that you are moving a little faster and working a little harder. You should be at a pace where you are still able to talk at the same time. Stay at this pace for five minutes.
3. Then you should begin to slow your pace for another five minutes of walking.
4. Stretch your quadriceps by holding your right hand to a wall, bend your left knee and bring the heel of your foot towards your butt. Grab your left foot with your left hand and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
5. Stretch your hamstrings by lying flat on your back with your knees up and both feet planted firmly to the floor. Draw your left knee towards your chest, and extend your leg straight up into the air. Use your hands to hold onto the back of your calf and slowly draw the leg towards your chest and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other leg.
6. To stretch your lower legs, stand with one leg in front of the other and press both hands, straight out, against wall. Slowly move your back leg further away from the wall, making sure to keep it straight, until you can feel the stretch In the back of your leg, and press the heel of your foot firmly to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
7. To stretch your groins, sit on the floor Indian style with your back straight. Move both of your feet in towards your body and place the soles of your feet together. Rest your hands on your ankles and ease your knees towards the ground til you feel the stretch in your inside your thighs and groin. Hold for 30 seconds. Raise your knees back up and then ease them back towards the floor and hold for another 30 seconds.
8. To stretch your lower back and abs, begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Place one hand behind your head. Keeping your abs tight, lower your upper body in a side bend to the opposite side of the hand behind your head. When you feel the stretch In your lower back, hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Continue to do this routine every day for a week. On the second week add 5 minutes to each of your 3 walking paces and continue to do your stretches. By the third week you should be able to bring your pace up to jogging and add another 5 minutes to your second walking pace. By this time you will be getting 35 minutes of cardio workout and you can add more reps to your stretches, as long as you are comfortable doing them. You will have your stamina and endurance built up. Then you can move on to the next routine.
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equipment: a good pair of running shoes
time duration: 30 minutes
This routine will be comprised of jumping jacks, squat thrusts, plyo jacks and running in place:
To do jumping jacks stand with your feet together and arms down by your sides. Keep your back straight, chin up and maintain good posture. Slightly bend your knees and jump into the air. As your jumping open your legs to shoulder width and bring your arms, slightly bent, over your head and touch your hands together. Go back to the standing position. That is one jumping jack.
To do a squat thrust stand with your feet hip width apart and squat down to the floor, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. With your hands still on the floor jump with your feet behind you, landing in a push up position. Quickly jump back to the squat, then stand. This is one squat thrust.
To do plyo jacks stand with feet together. Lower into a squat, bringing your arms out in front of you. Jump your feet out, staying in squat position and circle your arms up and over your head. Jump back to start position, circling your arms back down. This is one plyo jack.
To run in place begin by moving your legs in a running motion while staying in place. Lift each knee all the way to hip level. Steadily pump your arms back and forth as you lift each leg. Form a steady pace as if you were actually running.
1: Do 15- 20 jumping jacks
2: Do 10- 15 squat thrusts
3: Do 15- 20 plyo jacks
4: Rest for 30 seconds and drink water if needed
5: Do 15- 20 jumping jacks
6: Do 10-15 squat thrusts
7: Do 15- 20 plyo thrusts
8: Rest for 30 seconds and drink water if needed
9: Run in place for 10- 15 minutes.
You can do this routine for one week and on the second week add 5 reps to each set of exercises and slightly pick up the pace while running in place. On the third week add 5 more reps to each set and another 5 minutes to running in place. You should also combine your walking routine by the third week. I reccomend doing the walking at another part of the day. Make sure to get your pace up to a brisk walk or a slight jog. Don’t forget to do your stretches and add more reps if you are comfortable with it.
If you get to the point that you feel like adding more or switching things up, jumproping is a great way to burn fat and it works the entire body. By keeping up this routine you will begin to notice Your body is more flexible, breathing is easier and your overall stamina will be improved. You will be able to dance the night away and likely be the last one standing on the dance floor!