I don’t know about you, but I’m always happy when January has come and gone. Thirty-one days feels more like 100 as the winter blues encourage us to socialize a little less, hibernate a little more and threaten to put the brakes on our healthy resolutions. So, here’s to making it to the first Motivation Monday of the shortest month of the year and to finding new reasons to get moving.
If you’re still looking for a kick in the you-know-what to make healthier decisions in the days and weeks ahead, then American Heart Month arrived at just the right time. There’s simply no time like today to take stock of how well you’re taking care of your ticker. That includes evaluating how much cardiovascular exercise you’re incorporating into your routine.
I’ve always been amazed at how people react to just hearing the word cardio, which is short for cardiovascular exercise. People like me can’t get enough, while others simply dread it. However, since cardiovascular exercise is defined as any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation, that doesn’t mean you have to take a brisk walk to nowhere on a treadmill or pedal non-moving miles on a stationary bike for an hour.
Tabatas, other high-intensity training methods and even weight training done with little rest in between sets are all great ways to get that much-needed cardio boost for your heart and the rest of your body. I’m not saying you have to run out to a boot camp class or sign up for a half-marathon during today’s lunch break. I’m talking about 30 minutes of activity five days a week. Still overwhelmed? Try this: break those 30-minutes down into two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions.
If you still need a good reason to find the right kind of cardio for your mindset, here are three:
- Burn, baby burn: The bottom line is cardio burns calories. If you’re looking to lose weight, the Law of Thermodynamics dictates you have to burn more calories than you take in. So, adding some cardio to your routine is a great way to burn calories, and ultimately shed some pounds. Similarly, cardio increases the rate of your metabolism which helps you not only with weight loss, but weight maintenance, too.
- A Tip-Top Ticker: Your heart is a muscle, so just like the others in your body, it gets stronger by doing work. When you don’t work a muscle, it weakens over time. So getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis will keep it in shape. Medical conditions aside, when people get winded from walking up one flight of stairs or doing other simple activities, it can be a sign that the heart muscle is simply being neglected.
- Feel-Good Vibes Guaranteed: Cardio helps your body release the feel-good hormones called endorphins. These hormones help fight symptoms of depression and fatigue and can stay with you long after the sweat dries from your workout wear.
If you’ve never exercised before, there’s no time like American Heart Month to get moving. Schedule brisk morning or evening walks around the neighborhood or get a fitness game for the kids’ video console. If you’re thinking of joining a gym, sign up with a workout buddy for support. Try different group exercise classes until you find one you like so you’ll look forward to sweating it out a couple of times a week. Treat yourself to a couple of personal training sessions so you learn to safely navigate your way through a fitness routine. This is your health we’re talking about. Remember – YOU have the final word on any decision that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!