How to start a cardio exercise routine?

You’ve started on a fitness routine and you want to expand on it. You are ready.

So let’s start with your cardiovascular component. Cardio is the foundation of all your fitness activities, in fact all your activities of daily living. To be brief, this component of fitness involves your heart and lungs, helps to promote better circulation, burns off calories, lower your blood pressure and generally make you feel good.

What is Cardio?

Cardiovascular activity is any activity that you do continuously to increase your heart rate to a higher level than it usually is. This can be any daily activity, such as walking, sweeping, cleaning, climbing stairs (many storeys) etc. In fitness, one would think of activities like running, hiking, swimming, cycling, aerobic dance classes etc. But it can by any activity that you continuously do for more than 15 or 20 repetitions and that increases your heart rate.

At what rate should your heart be pumping differs depending on your age, gender, general physical fitness etc. Provided you are apparently healthy, two better gauges, in my opinion, are:

  1. How you feel
  2. Your state of breathlessness

How you feel is exactly that. If you feel lousy, maybe you need to slow down. Slow down, mind, not stop. Stopping after a period of exercising is not advisable either for your heart, lungs and body.

Your state of breathlessness is another easy gauge. If you can cheerfully talk, laugh and sing, you might want to amp up your intensity a little. When you reach a stage when you can’t string a proper sentence without catching a breath, you’re there.

What kind of cardio?

Well, this is the fun part. This is totally up to you. You can go for brisk walks, jogs or run. You can swim, cycle, hike. You can join a gym and try the various cardio machines there are – steppers, elliptical trainers, treadmill, to name just a few – or join a cardio class, from studio cycling to Zumba! classes. Even yoga offers a degree of cardio, just try doing the traditional 108 sun salutations!

One thing about fitness which is always exciting is that at the end of the day it is all up to you and your body. So converse a little with your body, start a dialogue, and see where the relationship takes you!

Have fun!