How can I improve my cardio fitness ability?
Your cardio fitness, or cardiovascular fitness, is the degree to which your heart and lungs can supply your muscles with oxygen-rich blood. It is also the ability of the muscles and tissues to utilize oxygen to create movement from energy.
Endurance, or anaerobic training improves the way your heart, lungs and muscles work together and makes them more efficient. This is why people who are very fit seem to be able to run, cycle or swim fast, or for extended periods, without getting tired or short of breath.
The opposite is true, too (unfortunately). Not exercising enough (or at all) results in diminished cardiovascular capability as the body forgets how to use oxygen in an efficient way. If you've ever found yourself out of breath when having to run to catch a train or bus, then you'll know what an awful feeling this is. The muscles ache, your head pounds and your lungs are screaming for air - it's a stark reminder of what we've started to leave behind through inactivity!
Of course, not getting enough exercise has many impacts on our general health other than not being able to catch a train before it departs and feeling silly. Not getting enough exercise affects one's weight, usually causing it to increase as fat builds up around muscles that are not being used as they were designed.
Resistance to illness, be it the common cold, flu or cancer, is also diminished if one does not follow a regular fitness plan. Lack of exercise is also usually combined with other related lifestyle factors such as smoking and excessive drinking, which also increase the risk of cancers and heart diseases.
Of course, there are also the mental and spiritual aspects of being out of shape to take into account, too. It's a statistical fact that those who do not exercise regularly and follow a poor diet are much more prone to depression, insomnia, mood swings and a lack of concentration when performing even basic tasks.
So what to do about it?
The good news: it's never too late to start improving your cardiovascular capability. It doesn't matter if you are 18 or 80, it can be done. The only difference will be the intensity of your cardio workouts, which should always be tailored to your own personal situation (age, weight, general fitness level and physical conditions).
The first thing to do is get checked out by a professional. A doctor or physician will be only too happy to give you a full physical to determine your current condition. From this assessment, you can decide on what sort of exercise program you will embark on to improve your cardiovascular ability.
Choose your cardio variety
Cardio exercise might sound like a boring concept if you've led the life of a couch potato, but you couldn't be more wrong! It's an exciting pastime with tons of benefits, including feeling better, looking better, meeting people and improved focus, sleep and moods.
Don't worry if the weather isn't good where you live or it's the middle of the winter - cardio exercise comes in both indoor and outdoor forms.
For indoor, consider the following:
- Elliptical training
- Stair or step climbing
- Exercise biking
- Skipping rope
- Treadmill running
For outdoors, where you can really get some fresh oxygen into the bloodstream, you have the choice of:
- Running (short distance running, medium distance running and long distance running)
- Nordic walking
- Free running
Now, doesn't that list sound a lot more fun than sat in front of the TV? Most people really love the way cardio exercise makes them feel, once they get over the initial hump and get into it.
Wherever you live, there are sure to be free clubs, classes, groups and associations nearby where you can try out the exercises and activities you like the sound of, to see if they are right for you. Of course, some activities you might like to try out yourself first to build up some confidence before you start using a local sports or fitness community to help you reach your goal.
One such activity is running, often a solo activity, although many runners prefer to run in groups for company. It takes a while to adjust your body to running, however, and build up the endurance necessary to be able to run comfortably with a group (there's nothing more embarrassing than struggling to talk because you're so out of breath trying to keep up with a group of more experienced runners).
With running, you also need to ensure that your body can take the impact, especially if months of inactivity have resulted in some surplus weight. Again, check with your physician and don't be afraid of low impact cardio, such as swimming or cycling, if he or she advises against running.
There are plenty of cardio workout exercises and routines you can try from home, without any equipment : if you have any stairs or steps where you live then put them to good use with some stair or step exercise routines, which will really help to increase the strength of your leg muscles as well as your cardio ability.
If you have a partner, then learning to dance is a great way to spend a few hours together and it brings massive health benefits - not least of which is increased cardiovascular shape.
An aerobic workout to good, loud aerobic music also brings great motivation and cardio benefits (if not exactly improving relations with neighbours).
Whatever your chosen form of cardio exercise, make sure you give your body a chance to settle into it with frequent, short workouts or intervals that train your body to get stronger without over exerting it. Once the benefits of the exercise start working, you'll feel better for approaching it tentatively.
Cardio exercise, especially high intensity interval cardio such as running, requires that many different parts of your body work together in harmony, for you to be able to maintain a consistent pace of an extended distance. If any part of your body - heart and lungs, heart, back or even your ankles or calves - isn't yet ready for distance running, then you'll have a bad time and may even injure yourself.
Ease yourself into the new cardio endurance program you have selected, and don't over do it as you'll risk a setback due to injury - which can be a real blow to the confidence. Walking is also a great way to get in shape - and is much more forgiving on your joints than sprinting!
Just keep up the daily workout and you'll soon burn calories, lose fat and start to look - and feel - great! Cardio exercise is fantastic for both brain and brawn and you'll soon start feeling more healthy than you ever have before.
Cardio Fitness on Tradebit
Improving your cardiovascular ability is not something you would normally associate with digital downloads, but you'd be surprised at the number of products and tools we have on this site that will educate, inform and inspire you to get in shape. From video downloads to eBooks and music downloads to workout to, there's lots of information and advice here to inspire you to get up off the couch.
It doesn't matter if you want to run, cycle, walk, swim or skip - there is a right technique for everything, and learning the proper way to do something always gives the best possible results when it comes to fitness and losing weight, and the lowest risk of injury.
Whatever your goals, get into shape and see the weight loss for yourself, with the help of our free tips and cardio fitness workout guide downloads on Tradebit! Contact us if you have any issues with the downloads you purchase here on Tradebit: [email protected]
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