The Best Cardio Exercises For Your Heart
What is the driving force behind our lives? Certainly, exercise is one of the things that come to mind. Not only does it allow us to lose weight and stay fit, but it also has numerous other health benefits. Cardio exercises and weight training are two major groups of exercises, which develop your body in different ways. The main focus of weight training is building strength, building muscle mass and shedding a few calories in the process. Cardio on the other hand is the preferred method if you wish to lose weight and build your endurance. Both types of exercises are very important and should be used in conjunction. However, this article’s main focus will be cardio exercises.
So, what exactly is cardio?
Cardiovascular training, otherwise referred to as aerobic training, is exercise that raises one’s heart rate and improves blood circulation. Some of the most common forms of cardiovascular exercise are power walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and many others.
These cardio exercises have numerous benefits. Here are just a few of them:
- Cardio is good for the heart. Cardio exercises increase the heart rate and make the heart stronger. A strong heart means less chance of heart-disease or other heart related problems.
- Fast calorie burn. Cardio is a great way to burn calories which reduces extra weight. Cardio exercise is especially great for burning abdominal fat, which can be very dangerous for one’s health.
- Improved metabolism. Metabolism is increased when exercising. This means that the body processes food faster and saves less of it as fat.
All types of cardio exercises are good for the body but lack of time to do them is the problem that many people have. Many people live hectic lives today and just don’t have the time to go on long jogs or bicycle rides. This is the reason why interval training has become so popular over the last few years. Interval training helps burn a lot of calories in a small amount of time, making this type of training extremely effective. Another benefit of interval training is that it lets the body rest just enough to keep it from getting exhausted. More specifically, it involves a series of intense exercise periods followed by rest periods. The intense exercises involve active anaerobic activity, while the resting period involves an activity that requires less action. Such a routine was proved to be very effective in producing results fast. The good news is that it can be applied to any cardio exercise. For example, one can alternate between sprinting and walking.
There are hundreds of effective cardio exercises and programs that involve interval training. Here are just a few of them:
The Tabata Workout 1 is a 4-minute high intensity interval training session! It involves 8 sets of exercises, made up of 4 different types of exercises. The idea is to do one intensive exercise for 20 seconds and then switch to a low-intensity exercise for 10 seconds. Then, it is on to the next set of exercises. Each set consists of 20 seconds of high intensity and 10 seconds of low intensity exercises or rest. After all four exercises have been performed and approximately 2 minutes have gone by, it is time to do them all over again, to complete the 4 minutes. For example, you can do one exercise for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. Then move on to the second exercise (20sec+10sec), and onto the third (20sec+10sec) and fourth (20sec+10sec) exercises. The great thing about Tabata training is that it can be done with any type of exercise. Just pick the exercises you like or the muscle groups you want to train and go with it. It is a great idea to choose exercises that involve different muscle groups. Also, the easiest thing to do is pick barbell exercises that are easy to transition between. 4 full minutes of these intensive exercises can burn quite a lot of calories and get your heart pumping.
The 7 minute scientific workout was developed by scientists and became an immediate success after it was published in the New York Times 2! Like the Tabata workout, this one is also very fast and intensive. It takes a total of 7 minutes! The great thing about this workout is that no equipment is necessary. It involves 12 different exercises and they can be done with a wall, a chair, and your own weight. Each of the twelve exercises is done intensively for 30 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest. The exercises are as follows:
30 sec of jumping jacks(+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of wall sits (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of push-ups (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of abdominal crunches (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of step-ups onto a chair (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of squats (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of tricep dips on a chair (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of the plank (+10 seconds of rest)à30 sec of running in place with high knees (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of lunges (+10 sec of rest)à30 sec of push-ups with rotation (+10 sec of rest)à30 seconds of the side plank.
Each of the exercises should be performed as fast and as intensively as possible. This exercise routine uses all of the major muscles in the body and rotates between them. The fast pace and the high intensity of each exercise raise the heart rate and helps burn more fat.
The Burpee is a full-body exercise that involves all of the major body muscles. It has 4 major steps which should be done at a fast pace. Each step is done on one count. Here are the steps:
- Drop into a squatting position with your hands touching the ground
- Keep your arms in place but kick the feet backwards.
- Bring the feet back to the squatting position.
- Jump upwards from that squatting position.
This Burpee routine has numerous benefits. First of all, it builds strength. Although it is relatively difficult to do, doing the Burpee builds muscle strength in the front deltoids, chest, thighs, arms, abs, and hamstrings. Secondly, the Burpee burns a lot of calories. It is extremely intensive and involves the entire body. This forces the body to burn almost twice as much fat as it does during a regular exercise routine. The Burpee also speeds up metabolism. Another great benefit is that Burpees build endurance. Last but not least, this exercise does not require any equipment and requires very little time.
Nordic walking. This type of exercise is similar to power walking but it is done with special walking sticks and is preferred by many people as a form of cardio exercise. Too much power walking and power running may actually hurt one's knees, joints, and spine. Nordic Walking is a healthy alternative because of the use of sticks. These sticks take some of the pressure off the knees and joints and also forces the muscles in the arms to work as well. Here are some benefits of Nordic walking:
- It involves 90% of all the muscles in the body (both in the upper and lower parts).
- It takes the pressure away from the knees and the spine.
- It’s a great way to burn fat. This type of walking burns 46% more calories than normal walking.
- It improves posture and helps deal with neck and shoulder problems.
- It strengthens the heart and the lungs. The pulse is 10-15 beats faster than it would be in normal walking.
- It improves one's coordination.
- It makes it easier to walk uphill.
There are thousands of cardio exercises to choose from, and most of them are beneficial. They burn fat, sculpt muscles, and improve metabolism. The only major thing to remember when selecting an exercise plan is that exercise should not exhaust the body. Hours of rigorous exercise will only do damage to the body. The best exercise is interval training which burns calories, builds muscle, and keeps the body healthy. However, it really doesn’t matter so much what type of exercise you do. What matters is how you do it!
1 “Tabata Training.com-The Home of Interval Training”. www.tabatatraining.com.
2 “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout”. New York Times Magazine. 12 May, 2013.