The key to cardiovascular exercise is keeping the heart pumping. Many times we only think of cardio as stepping on a treadmill or going for a run. In fact, cardiovascular exercise is any movement that gets your heart pumping and raises your heart rate.
Our bodies were made to move. That’s why the list of benefits of cardiovascular exercise is so extensive. The most popular benefit is weight loss — which is important not only for good health, but also to look good. Although appearance is important, cardio exercise also increases blood flow to your muscles, strengthens the heart and lungs, reduces stress and gives you more energy.
Since cardiovascular exercise is so important to a healthy lifestyle, you need to do it everyday. Doing the same boring exercise everyday can make it difficult to stay motivated, though, leaving you with an excuse to skip it. Here are some different exercises to add to your cardio routine to boost your motivation.
Something as simple as adding arm movements or hand weights to a basic walk will help raise your heart rate and increase coordination and muscle tone. Instead of a walk on flat ground, try an exercise machine, an incline or take a flight of stairs. The incline adds intensity and focus to an otherwise easy movement.
Jumping rope is another way to improve cardiovascular and respiratory endurance. This heart-oriented activity isn’t just for children. Make sure to choose a rope that’s the right length for you. Because jump ropes are portable, you can take them anywhere. That’s another excuse extinguished.
Climbing a mountain is no easy feat, but what if you did it on the ground? This exercise is called a mountain climber. Here’s how it works: Begin in a pushup position. Bring the left knee in towards the chest, touching it down on the floor. Jump up and switch your feet in the air, bringing the right foot in and the left foot back. Continue alternating the feet as fast as you can safely for 30 to 60 seconds. This may also be done putting your hands on a weight bench rather than the floor as an easier modification.
High-intensity exercises are the craze these days and can add yet another option for cardio exercise. A burpee is one of those ultimate conditioning exercises. It combines a squat, push up and jump all in one exercise. This whole body exercise can be performed by anyone at any fitness level. A push-up burpee is performed by beginning with a squat with hands on the ground. Kick your feet back into a plank and perform a push-up. Move your feet back under you and jump into the air. There are many variations to the burpee.
Such cardio machines as treadmills, ellipticals and bikes have kept up with technology. These “techie” features offer televisions, movies, music, Internet and games to entertain you as well as such workout information as calories, distance, time and heart rate.
Change the way you think about exercise. Instead of struggling with being active, try something new that challenges you. By adding additional movements to a simple exercise, you not only increase the workout benefits for your heart, but also remain motivated. Above all, make exercise fun and something you look forward to. And keep moving!