Beginning Cardio Basics – Exercises To Burn Fat and Calories

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So, you’ve finally decided to get into shape by doing some cardiovascular exercise. Great job! Wait, don’t start running around the block yet. Cardio exercise is one of the best ways to get into shape, lose weight and improve your heart and lung health. Any exercise that increases your heart rate, respiration and causes you to sweat is cardiovascular exercise. Brisk walking, jogging, jumping rope, running and swimming are all great types of cardio exercise. You need to ease into the heavy sweating exercises if you have been sedentary or rarely exercise and make sure to see your doctor for a complete checkup first. Once you get the all clear from your doctor, talk to a fitness professional about the best exercises to help meet your goals.

Progression
Progression training is simply starting out slowly with light exercise and gradually increasing the time and intensity of your cardio workouts. Adults need about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day for good health and to stay fit. As a beginner, you should start by exercising in increments of 5 to 10 minutes a couple of times daily. Try doing some exercise for about 5 minutes in the morning, again in the afternoon and then finish your day with another 5 minutes of light exercise. When you can do 5 minutes of exercise without feeling fatigued, add 3 to 5 minutes to the time you workout until you can exercise continuously for 30 minutes. Go at a pace that is comfortable for you. Your body is working harder than it is accustomed to working, so give it some time to adjust and gradually work toward your maximum exercise time and intensity goals.

Warm-Up First
Before doing any kind of exercise, it is important that you warm-up with some light exercise. Warming up your muscles with low intensity exercise, such as walking or marching in place, will increase your heart rate, improve blood flow and prepare your muscles for exercise. Warming up will also loosen stiff joints. You don’t want to start exercising with stiff muscles and joints because you risk injury. Do some light warm-up exercise for 5 minutes or until your heart rate increases and you start to break a light sweat. Include some gentle stretching after your light warm-up exercise to help improve your range of motion and further reduce your risk of injury.

Types of Cardio Exercises:

Walking
cardio-walking-treadmillEven if you work at a desk and sit down all day, you have to walk sometimes. You walk to your car, you walk into your job and you walk to and from your desk. Walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways for beginners to start a cardio exercise program. Begin by walking more and driving less. Park your car a little farther from work so that it takes 5 to 10 minutes to walk from your car to your destination. Walk around the block a couple of times when you get home from work before you go inside your house. Consider using a treadmill at home or in a gym, so the weather is not a hindrance to your cardio workout. Move at a brisk pace to get the most benefit from your walking workout. Once you can walk at a brisk rate for 10 minutes, increase your walking time to 15 minutes. Gradually increase your walking time by 5 minutes until you can walk steadily at a brisk pace for 30 minutes.

Cycling
Cycling is another excellent cardio option for beginners. Riding a bicycle is a good way to get some cardio exercise and enjoy the outdoors. If nature is not your forte or the weather is bad, ride a stationary bike at home or in the gym. You are less likely to injure yourself on a stationary bike, and there’s no chance you will have to watch out for traffic and pedestrians. Stationary bikes also have an added advantage of adjustable resistance. You can adjust the resistance of the pedals to suit your level of fitness and the intensity of the workout. A recumbent stationary bike may be more comfortable if you are overweight or have joint problems. You recline on a comfortable seat when pedaling a recumbent bike, but you still get a good cardio workout. Again, beginners should start slowly and gradually increase the time and intensity of cycling.

Swimming
Swimming is not only a great cardio workout, but also very easy on your joints and muscles. The water supports the weight of your body, lessening the impact on your joints and muscles. Non-swimmers can also benefit from water exercise. Gyms and health clubs that have a swimming pool, and sometimes community pools, usually offer water aerobics exercises and classes for people of all fitness levels. If you opt for going it alone instead of in a group class, take your time and swim for 5 to 10 minutes when you first begin your workout. Non-swimmers can walk back and forth across the pool in water about chest deep to benefit from the added resistance of the water without stressing joints and muscles. Jog in place for 5 minutes or until you begin to feel fatigued. Don’t forget to work your upper body! Cup your hands when you swim to increase the resistance as you pull your body through the water. Increase the intensity and time you swim until you can swim at a steady pace for 30 minutes.

Conclusion
When you decided to start a cardio workout routine, you made the most important decision when it comes to exercise. The next step to beginning a successful cardio exercise program is to pace yourself. Don’t try to workout for an hour the first time. You’re just starting out and need to slowly improve your level of fitness and endurance. As you continue to do cardio exercises and eat a healthy diet, you should start to lose weight and feel stronger. If you do a type of exercise that you enjoy, you are more likely to stick with it. Set reasonable weight loss and fitness goals that allow you to proceed at a pace that is comfortable for you. Soon you will wonder why you didn’t start exercising a long time ago because it makes you feel so great.

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About Author

Robin Reichert

I'm an AFPA certified personal trainer, AFPA certified nutrition consultant, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I'm also an active member of the world's largest association for fitness and wellness professionals. See my profile page for more information!

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