Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
You see it at the gym every day. Guys are sweating it out, pumping the iron for all they are worth. Muscles are massive and biceps are bulging. But what about the most important muscle in your body – the heart muscle?
Weight lifting isn’t going to do much to keep your ticker in shape, and it won’t be enough to keep your weight in check and that beer belly at bay. The best road to fitness is generally an exercise program that combines a few strength training sessions every week with a daily dose of cardio. It’s time to get savvy to what cardio training is all about.
Effective cardiovascular exercise will raise your heartbeat to 50-100% of your maximum heart rate potential. For those who have been living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, the number of beats should be lower, but for the bold and rugged who have been working out for some time, the number can be much higher.
While there are precise formulas that you can use to ensure that your heart is working exactly as hard as it should be, most of us will go by the simpler method of evaluating our physical state during a workout. This means that if your body temperature is up, the sweat is starting to appear and your breathing is increasing, you are probably in a good aerobic zone.
The Benefits of Cardio
Benefits of daily aerobic exercise are numerous, but the most important plus to this program is the health of your heart. When you work your heart every day, like the other muscles of your body, it will grow bigger and stronger. Blood will pump through your body more efficiently, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your body. Your risk of health conditions like heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease go way down with daily exercise like walking, running or swimming.
There is also the fat burning benefit that most of us relish when those jeans begin to feel a bit snug around the middle. Cardio exercise will burn the fat most efficiently, leading to a greater calorie burning and loss of excess pounds.
Are you worried about that beer belly that is starting to peek out over your belt? Spend some time walking every day and kiss those bulges goodbye. If you want to increase the results of your cardio workout when it comes to weight loss, combine the aerobic with the strength training for maximum fat burning.
How to get Started
The best thing about cardio exercise is that you can start anytime and anywhere. Of course, before beginning any new exercise program, it is best to check with your doctor to make sure you are finding a safe option for you. Try out a walking program by taking a brisk stroll through the neighborhood or sign up at the local fitness center to pay a daily visit to the treadmill.
The Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity recommends that people get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity workouts most days of the week. You can split this into three 10-minute segments, or do the whole shebang at once if you prefer. Combining this program with two or three days of strength training will result in a leaner, healthier you.