Cardio. What thought goes through your mind when you hear that word? We all know that cardio is important for our overall health, yet many of us drag our feet at the thought of it. Today, I have four ways to jumpstart your cardio routine to get the biggest bang for your buck. I want to help you find ways to both enjoy cardio and reap the most benefits!
The Lowdown on Cardio
Aerobic exercise, aka “cardio”, is a crucial component to a healthy lifestyle for countless reasons. According to the CDC, the benefits of getting our heart pumping and our brow sweating, include:
- Control your weight. You’ve heard the phrase “calories in, calories out” right? Cardio exercise can help you maintain or lose weight, depending on your goals, by burning excess calories (calories out).
- Keeps your heart healthy. Just like strength training helps build and strengthen our muscles, cardio strengthens the most important muscle of all – our heart! Aerobic exercise also reduces our risk for a multitude of diseases, such as: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
- Strengthens your bones and muscles. We have heard time and time again that as we age, we lose bone density. Well guess what? Cardio helps negate this process by keeping our bones strong, which is also important for preventing hip fractures and helps manage the symptoms of arthritis. Time to think about the future, friends!
- Improves our overall mood and mental health. Have you ever noticed that when you are exercising regularly, your thoughts are clearer, you feel more optimistic, and you may even be sleeping better? This is because when we exercise, endorphins are released, or, as I like to call them, “the feel good hormones.” This is also the reason why many reference “the runner’s high.” Once we know what it feels like, we can actually begin to crave that feeling.
- Set ourselves up for success in old age. Here we go again thinking about the future! I know we would all like to think we are going to be invincible as we age and that we are going to live to 100, but truth is, most of us won’t. However, we can work to improve our quality of life for when we age by staying active now.
So how much cardio should we be doing to reap all of the benefits above? The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both). To make it easy to remember, think of it like this: 30 minutes of light to vigorous exercise 5 days a week. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Now, let’s look at some ways to make aerobic exercise something to look forward to! Who knows, maybe you will experience that “runner’s high” and find yourself craving more.
4 Ways to Jumpstart Your Cardio Routine
Find a fun aerobic class to join. Remember when I was out in LA and participated in a trampoline cardio class? It was so much fun, we almost forgot how hard we were working. Find a class in your area that sounds fun, will get your heart pumping and your body moving. This could be a dance cardio class, spin class, or a class that combines strength and cardio, such as a boot camp class!
Grab a friend! Exercising is oftentimes more fun when you have a friend to do it with. Knowing that someone is counting on you will also give you the accountability and encouragement you need to follow through with your exercise program. I love meeting up with friends for runs or walks around the neighborhood because it’s a great way to spend time together and get my cardio in!
Jump it out. Literally. Looking to kick your cardio up a notch into that high-intensity range? Let me introduce you to a childhood friend, the jump rope. I remember in elementary school, we would regularly jump rope for time and see who could last the longest. It was so much fun that we didn’t look at is as exercise; it was a game!
Cardio can be fun as an adult, too. Did you know that just 15 minutes of jump roping burns 170 calories?! Thanks to my friends at Lipton Publicity Inc. and TKO, I was able to take a trip down memory lane and sweat it out throwback style.
The minute I started jumping (for joy), I noticed a difference in my grown-up jump rope. The handles were easy to grab and hold on to, versus some ropes where I feel as if they are going to slip right out of my hands! The other difference was that it didn’t get tangled… once. This was revolutionary to me since many of my memories of jump roping ended up in me being frustrated due to the rope getting tangled and twisted. I appreciated the weight of the PVC rope and the metal ball bearing feature that allowed for a smooth ride (errr, jump).
Because I had so much fun switching up my cardio routine with the jump rope, I’ve put together a fun HIIT workout for you that will get your heart pumping in no time! Click the button below to get your free download.
Join a community sports league. When one of my best friends moved to a new city, she joined the community tennis league to get social and stay active. I thought that was a genius idea! You don’t have to be an athlete to join, either. Community sports leagues are just as much about meeting new people and having fun as it is about the game.
There are many different types of leagues you can join, too, such as beach volleyball, softball, tennis, soccer, basketball and I would even count running groups if that’s your thing.
Sometimes, stepping outside of our comfort zone and trying new things is all it takes to start enjoying exercising more. And remember, in order for cardio to be an effective workout, you must get your heart rate elevated and challenge yourself!
*Lipton Publicity and TKO kindly sent me a Soft Grip Jump Rope for review. All opinions are my own.