When you strap on your shoes to hit the treadmill, you may not be looking forward to the gruelling hour of perspiration and panting that awaits. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You have cardio options that you’ve never even considered. And you may not have to push yourself as hard as you think. It all starts with knowing the true definition of cardio.
Many women think of cardio as being limited to running, swimming, power walking and cycling. But there are many more options besides these common exercises. The true definition of a cardiovascular exercise is any activity that improves the function of your cardiovascular system and strengthens your heart.
Ideally, you want to raise your heart rate to 100 beats per minute. So if you can feel your heart beating rapidly, you’re gulping in buckets of air and dripping sweat, you’re likely exercising hard enough.
Any exercise that elevates your heart rate and gets you sweating is great cardio. So while your treadmill routine fits the bill, there’s also a wide array of other movements and exercises that qualify as cardio. Some fun alternatives include hiking, dancing, bikram yoga, skiing and even hula hooping. And these are just a few of the options. There are also household chores! No more ordering the kids to shovel the snow out of the driveway; after a few minutes digging out the station wagon in your winter jacket, your heart will be pounding!
While shoveling snow may not be your idea of great fun, the point is that cardio doesn’t have to be a drag if you don’t let it. In fact, a major reason why many women quit their cardio exercises in the first place is because they aren’t fun. If you can find a way to bring enjoyment back to your workout, you’re much more likely to stick to it.
Another tip that will make your cardio exercise more enjoyable, and easier, is to limit it to 30 minutes. Yes, you can stop with the hour-long sweat sessions on the treadmill. In fact, depending on how hard you push yourself, doing a cardio exercise over 30 minutes can actually be damaging to your body. After this amount of time, your body can become catabolic. This means it starts consuming muscle for fuel, instead of stored fat or your last meal. To make matters worse, you won’t even be burning calories anymore.
So if you want to find a way keep your cardio routine going, find an exercise you’ll enjoy and limit it to 30 minutes. This will go a long way to keeping you in shape, helping you lose fat and making you smile.