Keep it Simple: Cardio

Being from New York, or anywhere that enjoys four seasons, there is nothing better then those first few spring like days that come at the end of February, the days start getting a little longer, the sun feels warmer on your face, it is a reminder that summer is just around the corner…WOO HOO!
I recently was posed a question on cardiovascular routines, a popular topic to talk about, especially around this time of year. Questions like how many times a week I should do cardio, to what are the most effective cardio machines. But before we answer those questions, it is important to understand what cardiovascular exercise means, and why it is so important to your overall health and wellness.
The health benefits of cardio vascular exercise are far reaching, and have been well documented. If you were to question the average Joe/Jane on the street, I don’t think you would have a difficult time getting them to agree that cardio is good for your overall health and wellness. Now, getting them to start a routine and being consistent with it is a whole different ball game. As long as I’ve been in the fitness industry the trick has always been how to get people consistent with an exercise program so they achieve their desired goals. I always joke with people that instead of working as a trainer, I would start a pick up service. Send a collector around to take people out of their office or home or wherever they may be and bring them to the gym. With the idea being, well you are here, you might as well workout…what else are you going to do at a gym? I say that tongue and cheek, however, understanding that not everybody is a gym person. Some people prefer the outdoors, running, cycling, hiking, or brisk walks are all good choices. Perhaps you are a home exerciser. I think that the answer to what the best cardio routine is, find what best suits your personality, what you can see yourself doing three times a week…and do it!
Fact: If you increase your heart rate over an extended period of time, for beginners that may be 15-20 mins, for more advanced 30 mins 3x per week, you are doing a world of good for your body. To optimize your workouts stay with in you target heart rate zone.
It is also important to note that cardiovascular exercise alone does not a complete fitness routine make. A well rounded fitness program includes not just Aerobic respiration, but equally if not more important is anaerobic respiration, which is with out the use of oxygen, and includes resistance training or training to increase muscular strength and endurance. This form actually burns more calories than aerobic respiration. By breaking down the muscle tissue your body has to use stored energy in order repair the broken down muscle, this process takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours; so your body is burning calories at an elevated rate that entire time. Aerobics generally burns a great deal higher caloric output, but the process ends anywhere from a few hours after, to with in the 24 hour period depending on the person. When coupled together, including a range of motion/stretching program, you have a complete fitness program to incorporate into your current lifestyle.
Now, if the goal of your program is weight loss then that has almost everything to do with diet, and there is no getting around that…sorry.;)