PURPOSE: Cardiovascular conditioning. Quite simply, aerobic and anaerobic training makes you healthier. It improves circulation and strengthens your heart, lungs and blood vessels. The heart is a muscle that needs regular conditioning. A well-conditioned heart can pump a large amount of blood with fewer beats than a weak heart. Exercise trains your heart to become more efficient as well as more resistant to stress, heart attack and other health problems. Furthermore, being physically fit lowers the risk of heart disease even in people who have other health problems such as high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
GOAL: Heart-smart exercise reduces your risk factors. Lessen your chance for heart disease by making your heart and lungs as strong as possible. Men, women, children and older adults receive the same benefits when working toward the goal of an efficient cardiovascular system.
TOOLS: Heart-rate monitor; running or cross-training shoes. If you don't have a heart-rate monitor, there are other ways to monitor your exercise intensity. One of those is the talk test. If you can speak comfortably but are somewhat winded, you're probably somewhere around the low to middle range of your target heart rate. If you are gasping for air, you are working too hard. Well-fitting, supportive shoes are a must to lessen the impact.
FORM AND SAFETY: To make the most of your cardio workouts, don't compromise your posture. Stand up straight. Pull shoulders back and down. Leaning on rails and handles is terrible technique and counterproductive. Stair steppers are filled with people who cheat their way through their workout with short, abbreviated steps - range of motion is important. Every cardio session should include three phases. Warm up for 5 or 10 minutes at an easy pace and gradually increase the speed and intensity. Your workout portion can last from 10 to 50 minutes, depending on your specific goals and current fitness level. You should be into your target heart rate zone. Allow 5 to 10 minutes to cool down in which you slowly decrease the workload of the cardiovascular system. Don't forget to stretch once you exit the machine.
Light: Beginners. Mild cardio such as gardening or walking.
Moderate: Regular exercisers. Walking about 2 miles in 30 minutes.
Intense: Endurance athletes. Interval training with bursts of speed.
Doing less will minimize health benefits.
Beginner: 10 to 30 minutes most days of the week
Intermediate: 30 to 45 minutes most days of the week
Advanced: 45 to 60 minutes most days of the week
Children: 60 minutes each day