There are many different forms of cardio exercise that boost health such as walking, running, swimming and cycling. Physical activity is essential for overall health and it helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Not everyone finds physical activity enjoyable but most people can find a form of cardio exercise that they actually like. Not to mention, the benefits of living an active lifestyle are hard to beat.
With a little trial and error, you can find a cardio exercise for you so that you can stay active and healthy while feeling good. In this article, we will be looking at ways to increase cardio exercise and providing helpful tips to do so.
What is Cardio?
Cardio is a type of low-impact exercise that elevates the heart rate. Short for
“cardiovascular,” cardio workouts elevate oxygen flow and increase breathing to boost heart health. Cardio is usually considered a full-body workout that offers many health benefits. Popular examples of cardio include running, biking and swimming. But if you’re unsure where to start, you can always walk. Walking requires no special equipment and can be done no matter where you are. A brisk walk improves cardiovascular health, boosts mood, and enhances overall well-being.
Top Benefits of Cardio
- Helping with weight loss. Regular cardio exercise helps to lower your body fat, build muscle and lose weight.
- Lowering stress levels. Cardio is good for your mental health as well. Working out regularly can help you manage your stress better and feel more emotionally strong.
- Reducing your risk of heart disease. By boosting your heart function, cardio exercise helps to improve your cardiovascular health and keep your heart pumping strong.
- Improving sleep. When you workout regularly it can also help improve your sleep quality. Sleep is essential to overall health since it provides your body with time to rest, repair and detox.
- Promoting optimal lung function. The cardiovascular system is closely related to the respiratory system. By doing regular cardio workouts you’re also benefitting your lungs and ability to breathe properly.
How Many Minutes of Cardio Do You Need Per Day?
The guidelines for physical activity vary depending on your age. Experts recommend that adults aim for at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity workouts each week or any equivalent combination of the two.
You should also incorporate muscle-building activities like weight lifting two or more days out of the week for optimal benefits. Children under the age of 17 years old, postpartum women and adults with chronic diseases may benefit from lower amounts of physical activity but ultimately, moving more and sitting less is beneficial for just about everyone.
150 minutes per week may sound like a lot but this can always be broken up into shorter sessions. Even just doing cardio for 10 minutes at a time can count toward a weekly goal. What’s most important is daily consistency and regular effort.
14 Practical Cardio Workouts
You don’t even have to join a gym to incorporate cardio exercises into your routine. Although a gym is a great place to exercise, you can also practice cardio at home and outside at a local park. It is important to always warm up prior to exercising with some light movement and stretching. Find below some cardio workouts that can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Squats involve lowering the hips to the ground by bending at the knees and then straightening the legs to return to a standing position. This strength exercise helps to increase the heart rate and work the muscles of the glutes and thighs.
Jumping rope is an easy method to increase the heart rate and it is a great way to workout since it can be done virtually anywhere. This workout does require that you purchase equipment since you need a jump rope in order to do it but jump ropes are affordable and available at many different online and in-person retailers.
Jumping jacks are a convenient cardio home workout since they require no equipment. Start by standing with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees and jump. While jumping, spread your legs a little wider than your hips and stretch your arms overhead. Jump again as you return to the starting position.
Burpees are a heart-pumping, full-body workout. They help to build muscle so that your body can feel stronger. To do a burpee start in a standing position, drop down into a squat position then place your hands on the ground. Kick your legs back so that you’re in a plank position then bend into a push-up. Raise back up to a plank, jump your legs forward and stand back up. Burpees are sometimes compared to Moutain Climbers but they are slightly different.
HIIT workout (High-intensity interval training)
HIIT workouts are a type of interval training that incorporates multiple rounds of different movements to help increase the heart rate and build muscle. HIIT workouts are very versatile since they can incorporate many different types of exercises and they can easily be done in a short period of time.
Push-ups help to work the upper body muscles such as the chest, triceps and shoulders. In addition, push-ups also work other areas of the body and they can even improve your posture. They can help to increase your blood flow and help with weight loss.
Circuit training is similar to HIIT workouts since they both involve rotating through multiple types of workouts in timed intervals. The main difference is that HIIT workouts are done at maximum capacity while circuit training is not. Circuit training involves periods of exercise with little to no rest while HIIT workouts involve periods of rest between workouts.
Strength training involves workouts like weight lifting to help build muscle. There are many different types of strength training workouts like weight lifting, using resistance bands and climbing stairs.
Swimming is a cardio exercise that helps to build endurance and support cardiovascular health. Experts recommend swimming for 30 minutes at a time, three times per week to help boost overall health.
Running is a cardiovascular exercise that is great for mental health and helps to build strength in the leg muscles. It is best to run outside so that you can also benefit from the fresh air and sunlight but if you live in an area with extreme weather, you can run on a treadmill as well for similar benefits.
Working out with a kettlebell helps to increase the heart rate and burn calories. This exercise involves swinging a kettlebell (a small weight with a handle on top) back between the legs while bending at the knees. This workout helps to not only increase the heart rate to improve cardiovascular health but it also is a full-body workout involving the arm and leg muscles. Kettlebell swings can easily be performed at home or at a gym. This is also considered a low-impact workout which can be easier on the body.
Cycling is a cardio workout that most people can do. It is easy on the joints, effective and typically thought of as enjoyable. You can cycle on an actual outdoor bicycle or you can do a cycling class at a gym using a stationary bike.
Regular cycling can help improve muscle strength and flexibility, improve joint mobility, strengthen bones, improve weight loss and more. Cycling is a great way to get started with exercise if you don’t work out often. Many people find that certain workouts like running or lifting weights are intimidating to jump into when they’ve never worked out before. Riding a bike outside is not only enjoyable but incredibly beneficial for overall health and well-being.
Elliptical machines are a popular option at most gyms. These workout machines help to increase heart rate, burn fat and benefit overall health. An elliptical machine usually features two areas to place your feet and two handles. Your feet move back and forth as you move your arms as well in a sort of jogging motion. Ellipticals provide a low-impact workout with is safe and effective for many different types of people. Elliptical machines provide an upper and lower body workout and they help to burn calories and fat. And they can even improve your balance.
You may also hear of a rowing machine referred to as an ergometer or erg. This machine is intended to mimic the motions used in the sport of rowing, using upper and lower body muscles with each stroke. It also helps to increase your heart rate, strengthen muscles and improve endurance.
Cardio fitness is essential to living a healthy life. You don’t even need a gym membership to start doing cardio exercise since there are plenty of easy workouts that can be done in the comfort of your own home–some don’t even require equipment!
Cardio exercise helps to strengthen the heart, improve overall health, aid in weight loss and build muscles. If you’ve never worked out before, it is a good idea to talk with your doctor before doing any new exercise program. UCF Health is a trusted healthcare provider who can help guide you in working out regularly and maintaining a healthy heart. Schedule an appointment to learn more.