Are you including cardio into your workout?
While certain people may require different amounts and types of cardiovascular activity, everyone should engage in a cardio workout plan each week. There are many methods for training which all have their advantages.
  • You can do an interval program on the treadmill (even make it multi-directional by adding in side steps and walking backwards when taught the correct way)
  • You can hit a number of different cardio machines that work different body parts but keep your heart rate up
  • If you are not into machines you can also attend a good solid Boot camp class, Martial Arts session, Step Class, or Zumba for a change of pace!  Music and other people is a great motivator.
  • If you train at a moderate intensity your body will recover quickly and your heart rate will return to normal within a short period of time
  • If you train at a high intensity level your body tends not to burn as much fat during the exercise but, your body will take longer to recover
  • You will burn and process waste and your heart rate will remain elevated for hours after you complete your exercise and you will burn more calories through out the day! Your metabolism will be running faster.
You should learn what works for you and what you truly enjoy so that you will continue to perform your cardio workout plan and reap benefits of good health.

Depending on your goals and body type, different amounts of cardio may be required. A lean “hard-gainer” trying to add mass may benefit from only one or two cardiovascular sessions per week.

What is your body type? How does it affect your goals and choice of a cardiovascular activity?

When your goal for cardio is general health, you have a few decisions to make about what type of cardio you will perform. Many people enjoy taking long runs, hikes, or even walking with a buddy through the neighborhood.  All of these activities are great but are you being challenged and enjoying yourself? Enjoying cardio is important, so if you find an enjoyable method of cardio, there is no reason why you should discard it. The same decision should influence your choice for timing. It is suggested by many that the best time to perform cardio is first thing in the morning and/or on an empty stomach to see maximal benefit. I disagree. If you have trouble waking up or putting a full effort into morning cardio, and will get a much more vigorous workout in the evening, then why not do it then? You want to feel your best when engaging in your cardio program and  when you know you will hold yourself accountable and will stick with it 100%. 

Consider a situation where you burn 300 calories during exercise. You have a choice: you might burn those calories walking at a brisk pace and reading a book, and it will take you 1 hour. Or, you might burn those calories performing sprints around the track or lifting kettlebells during a strength program followed by periods of moderate walking or jump roping, and you will burn those calories in 20 minutes.  The 20-minute cardio elevated your heart rate and took you into an anaerobic zone where your body accumulated an “oxygen debt” - a need for oxygen and fat burning to help flush waste from your system and recover from the intense exercise.  During a 24-hour window, you will burn MORE than 200 calories, and therefore be closer to your fat loss goal. 
Cardio is an important component to any workout no matter what your fitness goals are.  Find what works for you, something that you enjoy, and start working that heart!

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