When people think of exercise, a cardiovascular workout is usually what comes to mind. It involves any movement that raises your heart rate and keeps it there for an extended period of time. Activities that fall in this category include walking, jogging, running, cycling, hiking, dancing, aerobics, swimming, stair-climbing, cross-country skiing, and rowing.
Whew!! I'm getting sweaty just reading that list! I'm not a fan of aerobics but it's something that I know I need to do. Why? Because it helps you lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. It lowers your cholesterol, blood pressure, and pulse. It prevents diseases such as diabetes and cancer. It even lifts your mood and cuts down on stress. Those are some powerful reasons to get moving!
So where do you begin? Pick an activity from the list above that you actually enjoy. Then start out slowly by doing the activity for as long as you feel comfortable. For some of you that may be 5 or 10 minutes. That's perfectly fine! As your body adjusts you will be able to increase your workout time until you are moving for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. This is the recommended amount of time to reap the benefits. If your goal is to lose weight then you will want to amp that time up even more...to 45 - 60 minutes per day.
As always, safety should be your top concern. Be sure you warm up for at least 5 minutes before you start your activity. A good warm-up is to walk or do your chosen activity at a very gentle pace. This will raise your heart rate slowly and allow the muscles time to heat up. (FYI - once you have completed your workout it's also a good idea to cool down and even stretch. Your muscles will love the added attention).
If you experience any of the following issues stop your activity immediately:
Pain, especially in the chest, shoulder, neck or arm
Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
Joints are tender
See your doctor if this occurs. Also consult your doctor before starting a cardio workout if you have any chronic medical conditions.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get moving!!
Swimming is a wonderful exercise. It protects your joints and helps you to escape from the stress of life.