Walking, running, jogging, cycling, aerobics, dancing and dancing in sync with the kinect [Xbox 360] all fall under the umbrella of cardiovascular [cardio] exercises. Basically, a cardio exercise is one that elevates your heart rate, gets your heart to pump blood harder and helps your lungs to take in more oxygen. It also burns fat.
Why must you do cardio?
Besides burning fat, a cardio workout improves blood circulation, keeps you looking lean and releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which help you feel more optimistic. Besides this, it improves oxygen supply to your skin making your skin glow. It also helps improve your digestive system and keeps your blood sugar and lipid levels in check.
If you are bored of walking every day, try tennis, squash, swimming and disco dancing twice a week to make it fun.
Is there an age limit?
No. You can start at any age and also do these exercises at any time of the day. If you are just starting out, though, make sure you do not try to achieve too much in one day. Start with 20 – 30 minutes of cardio to build fitness and increase it to 45 – 50 minutes to lose weight.
The problem with cardio
The only problem with starting a cardio routine is the ability to stay motivated. Most people start with great enthusiasm and eventually quit because they are bored. While all of us know that this exercise will keep us fit, staying on track becomes a problem.
How to start and keep going
- Have patience. Like I said before, don’t try to achieve too much in one day. Start with a 20-minute brisk walk or cycling on day one and gradually increase the time to 45 minutes over the week.
- Wear the right shoes. Uncomfortable shoes cause a lot of pain in your shin, which will prevent you from continuing your noble intentions. So, right in the beginning, invest in a pair of good walking shoes. If you have flat feet, insert an arch support in your shoes.
- Select a timing that is convenient. This will help you stick to your goal and prevent yourself from making excuses.
- Get yourself a walking partner. Finding a person who is a little more motivated than you, will do the trick. Or simply carry your iPod loaded with fast-paced numbers with you.
- Track your daily progress in terms of distance covered and time taken in a diary or in your phone. This will make you work towards a more concrete goal.
Dos and don’ts to bear in mind:
- Always warm up before starting your routine. You can do that by walking or cycling slowly for the first 3 – 5 minutes and then increasing your speed over a period of time. Don’t start by suddenly running/jogging at a high speed as this puts pressure on the heart. People who are above 40, who are unfit, and have never exercised before, diabetics, or who have a heart condition, need to take special care.
- Cool down by reducing your speed gradually. Never halt suddenly as it can cause injuries and muscle soreness. After coming to a halt, stretch your quadriceps [thigh muscles], hamstrings and calves.
- If your routine is interrupted and you have to restart after several days, treat the first two days like you are starting from scratch. Let your stamina build before you pressurise your body into compliance.
- If, at any point, you feel uncomfortable, dizzy or nauseous, stop and wait for the feeling to pass—it could be because you are pushing yourself too hard or if you have had too many liquids or have eaten just before starting. Never exercise immediately after a meal; it is best to keep a gap of one and a half hours.