It’s time to start counting down to the summer of cardio fitness this year! What does summer cardio fitness mean to you? It can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me the summer of cardio fitness means now that the days are longer there are no excuses for getting in some great cardio workouts so you can burn fat and get lean!
Now this doesn’t mean that strength training, weight training, resistance training (or whatever you call it), isn’t important, because it really is! But for this article I’d like to touch upon the importance of cardio and help you understand that there is a “perfect” form of cardio just waiting for you to get started with, or to get back on track with to help you reach your fitness goals.
For some of you, please don’t let your dislike, discomfort or fear of getting started stop you from success! This is your life and your health so although I sometimes make light of fitness, it’s very important for you to embrace fitness and give your body 100% love, health and wellness!
I’m going to touch on three aspects of cardio fitness which include the mode (type of exercise), frequency (how many times a week), and duration (how many minutes per workout). After reading this it will be time to lace up your favorite shoes, put on your “get it done” workout outfit and get going!
CARDIO FITNESS MODES
For the sake of time, I’m going to include the following under the header “Aerobics”. This can/does include straight aerobics, step, Zumba, African, CIZE, TurboKick, Jazzercise, low-impact, dance (all forms), etc. Aerobics rocks and whichever form you choose to do, it’s always fun and only gets better!
One of the great things about aerobics is the large genre that you can choose from. Don’t just stick to one type of class or DVD workout, there’s a whole world of aerobic workouts to choose from and the more types you try, the harder you’ll work to hit those different moves, which means the greater your results will be! Not sure which types of aerobics workout is best for you? I personally love the website Collage Video, where you can get a 2-5 minute preview of any workout (try before you buy). You can’t always choose a great workout DVD by its cover, so watching the previews is a great way to understand what the workout is all about before buying it.
Spinning or Cycling
Spinning in a class, or cycling (with friends, in a group or on a team) is a fun way to get out, get some fresh air and log in a ton of high energy, high endurance miles! Spinning is led by a Group X instructor, spinning instructor or a cyclist instructor who will take you through a great workout that will have you dripping in sweat and moving your body to a heart thumping beat! Outdoor cycling can take you on some great scenic routes in your area, and whether you cycle alone, with friends or in a group team, you will put in some serious miles and have fun while doing so!
Running or Jogging
The only thing that needs to be said about these two forms of cardio is to always wear a quality pair of running shoes along with comfortable clothing (chaffing is horrible). Be aware of your surroundings and in some areas (like San Diego), you can actually get fined for wearing your headphones in both ears! Make sure that you can hear oncoming traffic, other pedestrians and animals just to be on the safe side.
Walking is an awesome form of cardio exercise and virtually anyone can do it! Want to kick up your cardio while walking? Try walking faster and walking further while listening to some great tunes on your iPod to increase your results!
Hiking is a great way to improve your cardio endurance and to get in a great lower body and core workout while taking in some awesome views of the outdoors! While it’s best to hike with a friend or in a group, please note the following to be on the safe side:
- Let people know where you’re hiking.
- If you’re new to the area, do your research.
- Take and wear plenty of sunblock.
- Make sure you have plenty of water.
- Bring several small snacks.
- Make sure you have your phone fully charged.
- Wear appropriate shoes.
- Make sure you read all signs (rattlesnakes, terrain, bathrooms, etc).
- Have fun and enjoy the view!
Swimming can be an awesome workout for all levels of fitness. Swimming is also especially great for those that have joint problems, arthritis or have problems with “weight-bearing” workouts. One of the best things about swimming is that you can go at your own pace. Challenge yourself by checking out the aqua aerobics classes at your local gym, YMCA or sports center where a certified aqua instructor will show you some effective moves. You will meet new people and have a great workout! You can also go swimming in the ocean or in a lake in your local area.
Cardio kickboxing is a high intensity workout that targets your entire body! Before I say anything more, I would strongly suggest that you take a few classes from a fitness professional if cardio kickboxing is new to you. This is not to say that you can’t find awesome kickboxing DVDs online, but unlike a DVD, your instructor can make positive corrections, improve your form as well as show you any modifications based upon your specific body. Of course, if you don’t have access to take a class in your local area then purchasing, renting or borrowing a kickboxing DVD is great! Just pay strict attention to the instructor’s cueing and modifications so you can get the most out of the workout.
Cardio can be done every day, but for those of you who are just starting out or getting back on track after some time off just make sure to take it easy when first starting out. Go slow until you find your groove and then go for it! Cardio can be done 4-6 days a week and with daylight savings in full effect, you can keep your workout shoes in your car and hit the pavement after work!
The duration for your cardio workouts depends on the amount of time you have and what exactly you want to do. You should try to shoot for a total of 30-45 minutes a day which can be broken up in many ways:
- 45 minutes of straight cardio.
- 15 minutes, three times a day (45 minutes total).
- 20 minute workouts, two times a day.
- Or any way you want to break it up, as long as you get it in!
I hope the exercise ideas in this article have given you some ideas of different activities to include in your fitness routine to help you start burning calories so you can lose body fat, tone up and get beach body ready this summer!