I’m excited to tackle this Workout Wednesday with new energy. For me, getting back into my fitness routine has meant focusing on one of my lifelong addictions: cardio.
While I haven’t completely decided how today’s workout will break down, I do know there will be a combo of elliptical, recumbent bike and rowing machine training when I hit the gym after work. After my five-day hiatus, I started with a moderate 30 minutes and should have no problem hitting a full 60 minutes today. Adding a plank and push-up Tabata along with some SMR and stretching and no doubt I’ll sweat any work-related stress right out of my system. All of this will no doubt help me get back up to speed and ready to tackle another crazy Central Park workout.
So, today’s post is a reminder about the importance of cardiovascular exercise. In the simplest of terms, it’s crucial when it comes to reaching your goals of losing weight, reducing body fat or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of cardio activity include its ability to decrease:
- Daily fatigue
- Anxiety and stress
- Coronary artery disease
- Non-insulin dependent diabetes and
At the same time, cardio helps boost your:
- Sense of well-being
- Immune system
- Blood lipid profile and
- Overall physical performance at work and at play
While there are several levels to cardio training, for the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on some guidelines for beginners and anyone who may be getting back into a fitness routine after a hiatus. (As usual, I base these guidelines using the what I studied through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.) Your cardio activity should focus on maintaining a zone one heart rate which is approximately 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. Here’s what that means for you:
- To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220.
- Multiply your max heart rate by .65.
- Multiply your max heart rate by .75.
To use myself as an example:
- 220-37 = 183
- 183 X 0.65 = 119
- 183 X 0.75 = 137
- Laura’s Zone One Heart Rate = 119 – 137
If you’re working within the parameters of zone one for cardio, it’s likely you are also in stage one of your overall exercise program. (NASM refers to this as the stabilization level.) If you’ve never worked out before, you may want to try to reach your zone one heart rate for a maximum five to ten minutes and then spend another 20 minutes simply walking at a good pace, climbing the stairs in your home or getting really dirty in the yard by cleaning up the garden. Your goal should be to eventually maintain your zone one heart rate for at least 30 minutes. This can take some time. A “newbie” may need two months or longer to meet this demand, but remember: there’s no finish line here. You’ve made a commitment to exercise and start taking better care of yourself, so while you don’t want to just dial it in, make the journey work for you.
I hope this brief session of cardio 101 will help get your heart pumping safely and effectively so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!