Love your Heart Too

By: Nadia Ellis

Is cardiovascular training part of your workout?

Many of us, especially weight-training enthusiasts know the benefits of building muscle. We all seem to focus on the superficial muscles (the ones we see) and ignore the one muscle that is responsible for keeping us alive. The heart muscle is hidden in the center of our chest and is pumping blood to our whole body to keep it working efficiently. If your heart is not exercised as regularly as the rest of your body it will only weaken and may not respond when you need it most. Strength training along with a cardio workout will only enhance your level of fitness and make you healthier.

Simple facts:
*Cardio Training is good for your heart
*Cardio helps you lose fat & maintain a healthy body weight.

Cardio programs are not just getting on a traditional piece of gym equipment. Actually a good cardio workout can be had without any special equipment whatsoever. The truth is that the key ingredient to a good program is dedication to doing it regularly so your heart is consistently exercised and strengthened along with your lungs.

You can strengthen, condition and enhance your heart by doing almost any activity you like that will begin to raise your heart rate. The idea is to always start with a warm up and then go beyond that for a few additional minutes. You will be able to measure your progress by your increased "cardio endurance". This simply means that you are able to maintain your cardio activity for an increased length of time as you continue to exercise. Soon you will feel the benefits of this "cardio endurance":

*More energy
*Happier
*Clear thinking
*Easier breathing
*General well-being
*less doctor's appointments
*lessen your risk to disease
*Live better & healthier

The amount of good a regular cardio routine will do for you is enormous. Remember, you don't have to go to a gym for an effective workout. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

*Walking
*Bike riding
*Dancing
*Moving in place
*Hiking
*Swimming
*Sitting in a chair and moving your arms and legs around

Just about any activity can work, the idea is to pick one right away so you can get started on the right track to better overall health & fitness.

So, how much cardio work do you need to do and how long will it take?

The general idea is to start with low-to-moderate activity. As you start feeling better your goal is to work your way up to a moderate-to-vigorous level that increases your breathing and heart rate. As you increase your heart rate your exercise will feel somewhat more difficult for you, however it should never be painful.

*A beginner should start with about 5 minutes per day/3 days per week just to get their body and heart used to moving again. You can begin to increase your time slightly after the 3rd day.
*Continue to add 5-10 minutes until you are able to maintain your activity for 30 minutes per session.
*To lose weight you would want to work your way up to 60 minute cardio sessions.

Cardio training should be made a part of your everyday life; if you commit to it and make it happen you will see and feel great results.

As always, before starting any exercise program please be sure to consult with your doctor.

Fitness
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