Beginner tips for safe cardio exercising
What is cardio exercise? Also known as “aerobics,” some think cardio is only a form of exercise to lose weight. However, the ultimate goal of cardio exercise is to increase the heart rate and respiration. Your cardio-respiratory system processes and delivers oxygen to your body. This process and delivery system allows you to have the energy to complete a desired activity. When appropriate stress is placed on the cardio-respiratory system, important organs of your body are stimulated and strengthened (i.e., heart).
Because your cardio-respiratory system is improved by enhanced heart function and the use of oxygen through cardio exercise, it should be added to any workout routine. Following are just a few benefits to you body:
- Decreases the risk of death from heart attack and other diseases
- Increases performance for daily living
- Reduces resting heart rate and normalizes resting blood pressure
- Reduces stress levels and fatigue
- Tones muscles and burns fat
- Improves self confidence
Below are four tips to help exercising the most important systems in your body so you can know what to expect before starting.
Be prepared for cardio exercising
If you have been inactive or are just beginning to exercise, there are a few things you need to know before getting started.
Physician approval – Get approval from your physician, especially if you have any medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.
Start slowly – Far too often, exercise beginners are so excited to get started and delve right in only to burnout before the end of the first week. Besides, doing too much to begin will cause overly sore muscles. Depending on your endurance levels, you may want to begin with five minutes and increase as your endurance levels improve.
Dress appropriately – When doing any form of aerobics, body heat increases rapidly. You will want to dress appropriately. Layer your clothing so that you may remove layers when you get warm. Also, wear the appropriate safety gear. For example if you’re cycling or running you’ll need a helmet and running shoes. By dressing appropriately, you prevent injury.
Drink water or BCAAs – Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. If you are doing long and intense cardio workouts, you may want to also consider adding branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) to your water to preserve muscles.
Warm-up exercises are important
There are many types of cardio exercise you may choose from. Cardio equipment such as treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals and recumbent bikes are available at your local gym. You may even purchase equipment for home use as well. However, there is an array of exercises you may perform for aerobic conditioning.
Whatever type of cardio exercise you decide to try, you want to warm your muscles and gradually increase your heart rate for five to 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio prior to delving into your actual endurance routine. Warming up reduces your risk for injury, as well as aches and pains. Your body is properly prepared for exercise by increasing your circulation gradually, as cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact well which makes you more susceptible to injury. Besides, warm-ups also help you prepare mentally for the exercise to come.
How much cardio exercising is good for beginners
There are a few things when determining how much cardio to include per day or week:
- Intensity. Higher intensity levels won’t allow you to perform as long as low intensity levels, as your body will fatigue and energy levels will decrease. Therefore, intensity should be considered with length of exercise.
- Frequency. As discussed earlier, the cardio-respiratory system needs to be stressed for benefit. Training one to two days per week probably won’t provide that benefit. Studies have shown that 20 to 30 minutes of cardio every other day (three to five days per week) is optimal for beginners.
- Physical Limitations. You may need to determine how much cardio is good for you with your physician.
Gradually increase your cardio workouts to at least 30 minutes five to six days per week for best overall health. Though you may need to start off less, consistency will build cardio-respiratory strength quickly. You’ll be able to increase your time and frequency each week.
Stretching exercises will reduce muscle soreness
Stretching or flexibility exercises are important after a workout. You will want to perform your stretching exercises immediately after your exercise, as your muscles are warm. (Never stretch with cold muscles as you may cause injury.) Strengthen elongates soft tissues which relieves joint stress and decreases stiffness. It also improves function and neuromuscular efficiency.
Don’t be intimidated about cardio exercising. Once you get started, even if only for five minutes a few times per week, you will find how easy it is to incorporate it into your schedule.