Crossroads Fitness Blog
Get moving with cardio exercises
It’s no secret: To keep healthy, we must move every day. Movement strengthens our muscles — including our heart. Did you know the heart is the only muscle that never stops working?
Learning what cardiovascular exercise is and why it’s important is the first step. From there, you can explore ways of getting cardio exercise in the gym and some tips on making your experience enjoyable and beneficial.
Simply put, cardio exercise increases your heart rate. When you run or walk up and down stairs, you’re performing cardio exercise. The stronger your cardiovascular system becomes, the more capillaries you have delivering oxygen to the cells in your muscles, where these cells burn more fat.
A strong cardiovascular system means more than just weight loss, though. Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and lungs, reduce the risk of heart disease, increase bone density, lower stress and improve sleep. Most important, cardio makes your body more efficient in day-to-day living.
Cardio exercise should be personalized to fit you. Begin by finding your target heart rate. This will give you a starting point to make sure your workouts are not only beneficial, but also safe. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. To find your target heart rate, multiply your maximum heart rate by 55 percent and 85 percent. This range is most beneficial.
If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, buy one. A monitor tracks your heart rate throughout your workout. A monitor records the amount of time you exercised in your zone and how many calories you burned.
Cardio exercise can be performed inside and outside. It’s a personal preference and both have advantages. Cardio equipment in a health club is designed specifically for exercise. Each machine is designed to imitate your body’s natural movements. Understanding what each machine does will help you decide which one works best for your body and meeting your goals. Ideally, it will be a combination of machines.
Start with the treadmill. It simulates walking or running. This machine has both incline and speed adjustments. By increasing the incline of the bed of the treadmill, you feel as though you’re walking uphill. This will also increase your heart rate. Use the handles for balance only, not support. When you use the treadmill without holding on, you engage your core muscles to stay balanced.
An elliptical machine provides a non-impact form of exercise. This cardio machine offers a good alternative for people with joint or back issues. This machine can provide upper and lower body strengthening and conditioning. You can set the resistance for a harder workout as well as the cross ramp for an increased incline.
The recumbent bike constitutes another beneficial cardio machine. It works the gluteal muscles. This bike allows you to change the level of resistance.
Still other cardio machines include the Stairmaster that simulates climbing stairs and Adaptive Motion Trainer machine that can vary from stepping to running. The rowing machine offers a great cardio intensity workout as well.
Cardio exercise is just one of the four cornerstones of exercise, but one of the most important. There are many ways to increase your heart rate. Choose one that best suits your body and fitness goals. By choosing exercises you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to stick with them.
The benefits of cardio exercise far exceed just weight loss.