Starting a Cardio Program

Resistance training is an important part of your fitness training. It builds lean muscle that give your body the tone and shape you love. It also improved your metabolism along with a slew of other great benefits. Where I have observed problems when beginning a fitness program is not the resistance training, but the adherence to a cardio program. I know plenty of people say the hate it. They hate to sweat, they think its boring, you name it. So often I watch people come into the gym and spend 30-45 minutes on a decent weight training routine but never do a second of cardio and wonder aloud why they aren’t seeing any definition. The fact is, you need to get that fire stoked with cardio to burn the calories and burning more calories than you consume is what leads to loss of fat. As an added benefit, by working your heart you are doing one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of many cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and diabetes. How’s that for a good reason to start liking sweat, or at least tolerating it. For an average healthy adult, you should be engaging in your chosen aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes) per week, which is just 30 minutes per day. That can be 15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening. Easy right?!

I’m convinced that for many people it may not be that they don’t like any sort of aerobic exercise, it is because they haven’t found one that suits them. So what I’ve done is compiled a list of basic workout formate with their pros, cons, equipment and some tips on getting started. I hope you find one that fits!

 Walking

Pros: Easy to start, accessible, low impact, studies show that regular brisk walking can have the same benefits as jogging

Cons: Well, the only one I can come up with is perhaps if you don’t have access to a safe place to walk. However I don’t think that is something many people will run into.

Equipment: Nothing but a good pair of walking shoes needed. Please don’t wear your casual shoes. I recommend finding a comfortable pair of shoes that are made for light workouts or walking specifically that have proper arch support.

Getting Started: Start easy. Especially if you have been inactive. Try starting with short sessions, 10 to 15 minutes, 5 days per week. Then gradually increase you time as you feel comfortable. Try to reach for at least 30 minutes 3 days per week of brisk walking. 5 days per week is ultimately the goal.

 Running/Jogging

Pros: Easy to start, accessible, efficient workout

Cons: Same as above

Equipment: A good pair of shoes. This is your most important purchase and can make or break your experience. When you buy shoes I recommend going to an athletic store or, if you have one nearby, a store specifically for runners. The prices shouldn’t be much higher, if at all, so don’t worry. You will find a wide variety of shoes and expert advise, which is worth the extra buck or two. Go try shoes at the end of the day when your feet are slightly swelled. Your feet naturally swell slightly during the day and when running. Make sure to bring the socks you plan of wearing when you run to ensure a good fit. Have your feet measured and try a few shoes. Don’t just go for the first pair or the one that looks the best.

Getting Started: Start slow. A common mistake for beginners is to go too fast push too hard and become fatigued, frustrated and quit. It will take some time to find your pace but it’s best to start very slowly at first, its OK! Walk if you have to. Again, its OK! Try to track your runs based on time rather than miles. Running is very individualized and you’ll have to experiment to find your starting point. You may have to start by walking more than jogging. Over time, your pace will improve and you’ll find yourself running farther and enjoying it more. You can’t beat a workout that burns an estimated 200 calories in just 20 minutes.

 Cycling

Pros: Low impact, Great way to commute to work if you have a bicycle safe route – save gas!!,

Cons: Can be costly depending on equipment

Equipment: Bike – doesn’t matter what kind, as long as it is in safe, working condition. Helmet. The equipment from that point depends on your riding preference, road bike, mountain bike or casual.

Getting Started: If you haven’t been on a bike for a while it’s best to find a traffic free place to get comfortable again. Once you are comfortable get out there. There are so many options from riding clubs to using your bike for commuting. There are many wonderful bike rides in cities, suburbs and rural areas alike, there is bound to be one near you. If you will be riding in an area with vehicle traffic, be sure to understand how to keep yourself safe on the road. Always ride with traffic, obey traffic laws, wear reflective clothing, always wear your helmet, and watch for turning traffic.

 Swimming

Pros: Low impact, good for pregnant women, those with arthritis and older adults, great full body workout

Cons: Chlorine may be irritating, finding a pool or other place to swim may be either expensive or difficult.

Equipment: Bathing suit, goggles, kick board (optional)

Getting Started: Think about taking a swim lesson. Even if you know how to swim it is important to have proper technique to gain the most benefit.

 Cardio machines/gym example: stationary bikes, elliptical, stair climber

Pros: Low impact, easily accessible, since your workout is indoors you can continue your workout throughout the winter and hot summer months comfortably. You can read or watch T.V.

Cons: Can be monotonous, machines tend to be one size fits all so machines may be too big for some (primarily elliptical)

Equipment: Gym membership or home equipment

Getting Started: Again, as with all cardio workouts, start slow. Machines will track your time, calories, distance or METS which can be a bonus. It can also be a con as you will tend to be counting down the minutes till you’re done.

 Videos example: P90-X, Insanity

Pros: Privacy of your own home. Can be done late at night or very early in the evening when you may not want to go out for a walk or run. Like machine workouts, you can continue your workout throughout the winter since you are indoors.

Cons: Easy to skip or put off. Can become monotonous after a time.

Equipment: Varies. Some require specific equipment like resistance bands or weights

Getting Started: Couldn’t be easier, order the video and follow the directions. If you are someone who feels uncomfortable in public or at a gym this is a good option.

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