Facts about Cardio Exercises

Aerobic or cardio exercises work the most important muscle of your body. That is your heart. They also improve the function of your lungs and their capacity.

And, most of us don't like doing our cardio, but it's a necessary evil. Cardio not only improves heart function, it burns body fat. But, who has time for cardio? Which type of cardio burns the most calories and fat? How can I tell if my cardio program is working?

Well, to answer these questions... everyone has time for cardio, you just have to make it a priority. Thirty minutes of cardio for maintenance of body weight three times a week. Forty or more minutes of cardio six times a week for fat loss.

Which type of cardio exercises burn the most calories and fat? The kind that you'll do consistently. Seriously, I get tired of running outside or on the treadmill and that's when I do intervals, incline train, power walking, or any combo of these to get an effective cardio workout that's fast.

Now, how do I tell if my cardio is working for me? One of the ways to tell that a fitness program is working is to measure your chest when your lungs are completely empty. Then take a deep breath, filling them to capacity. Record the difference. As your fitness improves, you should see that number become higher, which indicates that your lung capacity is increasing and your workout, is working.

Many people focus too much attention on the scale. They might feel that they are making no process or they may stress over the two or three pound fluctuation that naturally occurs during the week. This is one of the reasons that you should weigh yourself no more than once a month.

Make a habit of taking your measurements, too. Record your waist size, your hip size and the circumference of your thighs. Seeing those numbers go down is all of the motivation that you need to keep going.

There are numerous types of cardio exercises. Anything that makes you breathe harder than you would at rest is working your cardiovascular system. Some activities burn more calories than others. In general, the faster or more intense the movement, the more calories you are burning. In addition, you burn more calories when you weigh more. That's why the first ten pounds will seem a lot easier to lose than the last.

Let's say that you currently weigh 190 pounds and for cardio exercises, you choose a stationary bike. The amount of effort that you put into it increases the number of calories burned. At a “moderate” effort, you will burn 604 calories per hour. If you walk on a treadmill, at a pace of two miles per hour, you will burn 215 calories. But, if you increase the incline of the treadmill to 15%, you will burn 570 calories per hour.

With a stationary bike, it is difficult to gauge energy expenditure. You may feel that you are working hard, when you are hardly working. With today's treadmills, it is easy to tell how hard you are working. These treadmills can be programmed to provide an "interval" workout. This means that the inclines and speed are varied electronically.

It allows you to start out with a warm up, typically of 5 minutes and then the exercise becomes more intense. In a 30-minute workout, you would also have a programmed five-minute "cool down". A cool down is important for allowing your heart rate to gradually return to normal. You should follow the cool down with a gentle stretching routine, while your muscles are still warm.

Working out on a treadmill is one of the best cardio exercises for a number of reasons. One is the ability to add weight for resistance. If you want the last 10 pounds to come off as easily as the first, invest in some leg weights or a back pack that you can add weight to. When you lose a pound, start carrying a pound. That way, you'll continue to burn the same number of calories, as time goes by.

Now as I mentioned before, I get bored with a regular treadmill workout every now and again and will do intervals, incline train, power walking, or a combo of these to mix up my cardio exercises and beat boredom. Here's a sample of some of my effective, time saving workouts:

  • Intervals are a personal favorite of mine because they get results and fast. Here's what you do, go all out for one minute then recover for two minutes and repeat this cycle until at least thirty minutes have passed. In other words, if your working out on your treadmill, run at top speed for a minute, then power walk recovering for two minutes.
  • Use an incline trainer like the one pictured to the right for a super fat blasting workout.
  • Power walking at a speed of 4.5 mph on a treadmill is a great fat burner. I like to combine this with an interval type workout in two fifteen minute segments as follows: Power walk at 4 to 4.5 mph for five minutes with no incline, then increase the incline to a 3 with speed of 3.7 to 4 mph for another five minutes, then increase the incline to a 5 with a speed of 3.7 mph for another five minutes, and then another five minutes with the incline now at 7 and speed reduced to 3.5 mph. Sounds easy, but this workout is a tough fat burner if you do it for 30 to 45 minutes.

So, the key to effective cardio exercises is to do them regularly and mix it up. Now that I've given you a sampling of what works, try it out and make sure to change your workout every six weeks to keep your body moving towards your goals and to beat boredom.

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