Cardio workout routine should be a part of your workout plan. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, burns unwanted body fat, strengthens muscles and bones.
So which one is the best cardiovascular workout? Well, it depends on you! Even if a particular workout is very effective, but you don’t like that workout, it is not for you. You really need to find something you like. Or, you can change the environment so that you can enjoy working out this way.
Another important factor is the safely of the workout. Again, even if the workout is effective, but not safe, and if you get injured, you cannot workout again for a while, and you lose all the benefit you gained from the workout. Some workouts are safer than the others, but again, it depends on your body, too. You may also want to choose an activity that you can do by yourself, not depending on someone else. For example, soccer is a great cardio workout, but you need to depend on other team members and an opponent. You may not be able to do this when you have time. It is great idea to join a soccer club, but you must have other cardio workout routines.
Here is the list of the most popular cardio workout.
- Fast Walking: Fast walking is a very safe and quite effective cardio workout. Many people like fast walk, because they can go outside and enjoy the sun, wind, and scenery. You need to walk fast enough so that you can keep your heart rate at a target level. Although if you walk slowly, you still get some benefit, you may not get enough workout for your heart. The disadvantage is that, as with any other outdoor activities, it is harder to do it if the weather is not to your liking.
- Jogging/Running: Jogging and running are also popular cardio workouts with the same merits and demerits as those of fast walking. The difference between jogging and running is just the speed (division comes around 8 miles/hr). There are slight differences in physical movement between jogging and running, but the difference between them is not much comparing to that of walking. Jogging and running involve high impact movement, and may cause some joint problems, if you are not careful.
- Bicycling: bicycling is also popular because you can enjoy the outdoors, and less impact on your joints. It can be a very good cardio workout, though many people are riding more for joy than for cardio workout. This activity also comes with some very serious dangers such as falling and colliding. The helmet is a must for this workout.
- Swimming: Swimming is a very effective, and very safe cardio workout. The main problem is that you need to have an access to pool. Outdoor swimming is fine, but not many areas have 12 months access to the water. It is a full body workout, and, since you need to consciously regulate the breathing, it will develop your lungs better than the other workouts. There are a few other negative sides. You actually need to learn how to swim correctly first before you get a good workout. Some people don’t like the chlorinein the water, and in fact it is not good for the skin and, if it is too strong, to your lungs.
Group Classes: If you have an access to a gym, you may also consider group classes. People like group classes because they can make friends, and that keeps motivating them to attend the classes. There are many different classes offered and each health club has its own flavor of classes, but here are some examples.
- Aerobic Dance: This includes such as “cardio funk, ” “zumba,” and “step”. If you like to dance, you may like these classes. An instructor leads the class, and you follow her/his dance moves. It is challenging as you need to learn the movement at first, but once get it, it is fun. Some instructors change the routine every time, and challenge you.
- Spinning: Spinning is a workout on a specially designed bike in a group class. You don’t need to learn any specific routine, and you can do your own level, but still you follow the instructor’s call, and he/she will push you hard. For this class you may invest into special padded pants; otherwise you may get sore buttocks.
- Circuit Class: This is actually a combination of strength training and cardio workout. You will do several different strength exercises at a certain time interval without taking much break between so that you can keep your heart rate up, and at the same time you can build up your muscle strength. It is a great class, but it may be a bit tough for beginners.
- Water Aerobics:This is a workout done in a pool. Because the water supports your body weight, it is good for people who have joint problems. Still it gives you a very good workout. In fact, many top athletes use some sort of water aerobics while they are recovering from injuries so that they don’t lose their strength and cardio capacity.
Cardio Machine: Although I don’t recommend to buy it for home use, if you have an access to a health club, there are quite many choices of cardio machines. The advantages of these cardio machines are that you can use any time, in any weather, and do so reasonably safely. Many people like indoor cardio machines because they can be multi-tasking. You can read a book, watch TV, or even meditate! Personally, I recommend to concentrating on whatever you are doing, and not multi-tasking, but I know, you are busy… In any case, I strongly recommend changing the machine type regularly. Otherwise, you develop one muscle group. Once you get used to a machine, your body will be very efficient in its the movement, and you will get less cardio workout. By changing the machine regularly you can stimulate different muscles groups, and give your heart a good workout. Here are a few cardio machines you can find in a typical health club.
- Running Treadmill: You can walk or run on this tread mill. You can change speed and incline of the slope. Most machines have pre-set program and it will change the speed and angle accordingly. Some people say that it is less impact on your knees, but don’t believe it. The impact is the same as running outside on a pavement.
- Elliptical Machine: This is one of most popular machines in a health club. It gives you full benefit of running, without high impact on your joints. Some of them come with arm bars so that you can workout the upper body at the same time. One negative side is that, to make the movement safe, it restricts the body movement, develops only certain body muscles and does not stimulate body muscle coordination like running does. Still it gives you a great cardio workout.
- Stationary Bike: You should use a stationary bike as a secondary cardio workout. It got the lowest rating for cardio workout, especially the reclining stationary bike. Still it stimulates a different part of your leg muscles, and you should use it occasionally.
- Stepper: This machine used to be very popular because of less impact on your knees, but the spot was taken away by the elliptical machine. However, it still has a great advantage. Because it is not “fixed” as the elliptical machine, your body needs more movement coordination, and develops better sense of the balance, especially if you don’t hold the handles. Most people use it wrong and hang on the handle too tight, missing the whole benefit of the machine.
- Stair Climber: This machine simulates stepping up stairs forever! It is less restrictive in motion, and gives you a really good workout. If you are getting used to this machine, try without holding the handle. It gives you an amazing workout. I think, this machine is not popular because it is hard!
- Wave Machine This machine simulates skating, or rollerblading motion, and develops more of the outer side of leg muscles. The movement of this machine is rather free, and to use this one you may need some practice, but again, it will train your muscle coordination. I strongly recommend using this one without holding the handle for support.
- Rowing Machine: This machine simulates rowing of a boat. It is getting less and less popular, and most clubs have only one or two machines. If you like to use this machine, ask a gym staff about the correct use. If you use it incorrectly, you may strain your lower back.
Whatever you decide to do, the key is to workout regularly for rest of your life. You cannot just do it one week and get the benefit. It must be a part of your life. So find something you can enjoy!
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