Ever heard the saying that a “body at rest is likely to stay at rest?” Well, the opposite is true, too. Get your body moving, and you’re likely to stay moving, reaping a host of health benefits as well. Cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio,” is activity that uses the major muscle groups of your body and raises your heart rate for a sustained period of time. It includes everything from walking to swimming to dancing to household chores like sweeping and yard work.
Cardio burns calories and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. It can also help lower your blood pressure; raise your HDL, or good, cholesterol levels; and reduce your risk for heart disease and heart attacks.
Cardio is good for your mental health, too. Regular cardio activity reduces your risk for depression and may help you sleep better. It can also keep your brain sharp as you age.
Even if you have balance issues or use a walker or wheelchair, you can still get in some cardio with activities like aquatic exercise classes, hand-cranked exercise bicycles, and rowing machines.
Many Ways to Work in Cardio
You want to aim for at least two and a half hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity (like walking briskly) or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (like jogging), or a mix of both.
But you don’t need to stick to the same cardio activity to get those minutes under your belt. Think creatively and you can fit different types of cardio into your day. Try these tips:
- Get those steps.Going to the grocery store? Park at the farthest end of the parking lot and add a couple of minutes of walking to your day. After you enter the store, step up your pace and do an extra lap with your cart if you’re feeling ambitious.
- Grab some drumsticks.Try a cardio drumming class. This type of class lets you drum to music. This fun workout will get your heart rate up and can be modified for any fitness level.
- Dance it off.About 12 million people every week take Zumba, a high-energy dance class. No time for class? Cue up your favorite music and take a five-minute dance break.
- Get up from that couch. Do you, like many people, spend most of your day sitting? Instead of sitting in front of the TV all night, walk in place or do a set of slow, controlled squats while catching up on your favorite shows.
- Walk and talk.Meeting someone for coffee? Grab it to go and get a walk in. You’ll catch up while you sneak in a workout.
- Get wet.Swimming is a fun way to move your body. Water exercise classes are a great option if you have joint or mobility issues, too.
If you’ve been inactive or are planning on upping your activity level, talk with your doctor about the amount and type of exercise that’s right for you.
With so many options, you never have to be bored with cardio. You may find that it becomes one of your favorite parts of the day!
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