We've asked the YMCA's fitness guru Cindy Boggs to revamp her twice-a-month column into a weekly tutorial on fitness. In Cindy Says Fitness Tips, she'll feature exercises to strengthen and to shape specific body parts.Today, she begins by focusing on cardiovascular activities that build heart and lung capacity. A strong heart and lungs are prerequisites for strength training, Boggs points out.In future Fitness Tips in January, Boggs will touch on upper body, lower body and abdominals.
PURPOSE: All cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise expends energy and, therefore, is helpful for conditioning your heart and lungs and managing weight. The more intense the exercise and/or the longer the duration of exercise, the greater the energy expended and the greater the impact on weight loss.
GOAL: Work efforts should elevate your heart rate to an appropriate training zone for your current fitness level. Cardio bouts should last an average of 20 to 30 minutes, but several 10-minute efforts throughout a day is a great way for beginners to improve their heart and lungs.
TOOLS: Heart rate monitor; running shoes or cross trainers. If you don't have a heart rate monitor, there are other ways to monitor your exercise intensity. The "talk test" measures how hard you're working during exercise. If you can speak comfortably but are somewhat winded, you're in the low to middle range of your target heart rate zone or between 4 and 5 on the perceived exertion scale. If you are gasping for air, you are working too hard.
REV IT UP OR TONE IT DOWN: You shouldn't be breathless during your workouts. However, if you're doing intervals or a short, high-intensity workout, being somewhat breathless is to be expected. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, you should slow down or stop exercising. If you don't feel winded at all, you can increase your intensity by going faster or add incline to your walk.
Light: Geared for beginners; sedentary for a while (walking)
Moderate: Geared for regular exercisers (jogging or jog-walk)
Intense: Geared for avid exercisers; to increase aerobic threshold (intervals)
Beginner: 10 to 30 minutes
Intermediate: 30 to 45 minutes
Advanced: 45 to 60 minutes
Two to four times a week. Try to do something on most days. Factor in strength training so that you are exercising at least four days each week.