Cardio exercise is important for a healthy heart and weight loss.
How to Begin
- Choose an activity that you enjoy. The best exercise for you is the one you’ll actually do, not the one you think you should do. Walking is a great place to start since it doesn’t require special equipment and you can do it anywhere, but you can try any activity that involves some type of continuous movement like cycling, swimming, running, aerobics, rowing, stairclimbing, etc.
- Start with 2 or 3 days of your chosen activity a week with a rest day between workouts.
- Begin with a 5-10 minute warm up of light cardio to gradually increase heart rate.
- Increase your pace and intensity to slightly harder than comfortable (about a Level 5 or 6 on the perceved exercion scale or you can use target heart rate to monitor intensity) and go as long as you comfortably can. Begin where you ARE, not where you want to be. You may only be able to exercise for a few minutes at a time, but that will change quickly if you’re consistent.
- End each workout with a cool down of light cardio and stretch the muscles you’ve worked to relax and keep your muscles flexible.
- Each week, increase your workout time by a few minutes until you can work continuously for 30 minutes a session.
- Don’t worry about distance or pace. For the first few weeks, focus on showing up for your workouts and building time. You have plenty of time to work on your speed and distance.
- After 4-6 weeks, change your routine by adding another day of exercise, increasing your pace/intensity, adding a new activity and/or increasing the amount of time you exercise.
Tips for Better Workouts
- Make sure you have quality shoes for your chosen activity.
- Start slowly. Doing too much too soon can lead to injuries and misery.
- Try new activities. Doing the same thing can lead to plateaus, and boredom.
- Be ready for exercise by feeding your body regularly throughout the day and by staying hydrated.
- If you’re sore or tired, give yourself extra recovery days if needed.
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