Heart-to-Heart: Cardio Exercise

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Let’s be real. There aren’t many things that are more important than your heart. In fact, your heart should be your top priority! It’s the hearts job to distribute oxygen-rich blood to every organ of your body, so you keep breathing, blinking, moving and shaking!

Cardio exercise is any type of exercise that makes your heart and lungs work harder. Not only does cardio exercise help you lose fat and increase muscle mass, but it also enhances heart function, decreases the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, and improves blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. That’s a win-win-win-win, y’all!

The best part about cardio exercise is the variety of ways to practice it. Aerobics, jumping rope, yoga, Pilates, weight lifting, biking, dancing, elliptical and hiking are just a few ways to make your heart stronger, healthier and happier. And who doesn’t want a happy heart?

It’s all about your strategy. Don’t be intimidated by exercise – the more you do it, the easier will get. Educating yourself on the best ways to get what you want is the first step to making it happen. Here are some of my guidelines for a kick-ass-totally-worth-it cardio routine:

Don’t cut it short. I recommend cardio exercise at least four times a week for 30 minutes – at minimum! Even pushing for an extra five minutes during your workout makes a big difference. For example, jumping rope for five minutes burns 49 calories! However, jumping rope for 10 minutes early in the day and then another 10 minutes later in the day will not get you the results as soon as you want. It takes longer for your pulse to elevate. So, go hard and aim for a lengthened workout routine.

Add weights to your routine. Since cardio exercise burns calories and fat, tone your muscles by adding weights to your workout. This will make your body leaner. In my Cardio Fusion class, I incorporate high-intensity dance routines (Hip-Hop, Jazz-Funk, Ballet, etc.) with hand weights, steps and mat work. Be ready to sweat! Sculpting muscle tone while burning fat is hard work, but the results are envy-worthy.

Try interval training. During your workout, alternate high intensity activity with low intensity activity. For example, dance hard for three minutes and then stretch for one minute. Working in intervals jump-starts your metabolism, as your muscles are consistently pushed and relaxed throughout your routine. You’ll burn more calories, build endurance, and interval training has been proven extremely effective at reducing belly fat.

Mix it up. Don’t make exercising a boring thing! Participate in different types of cardio throughout the week. Maybe take a yoga class on Monday and take a dance class on Wednesday. Friday night Salsa, anyone? But seriously – too much of the same thing will exhaust your muscles and your results will be hindered. Adding variety to your weekly routine gives your muscles a chance to recover, and prevents you from getting repetitive stress injuries. Build endurance and don’t be afraid try new things.

 

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