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How to Choose a Cardiovascular Workout

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If getting fit is your goal this year, you can choose from a ton of cardiovascular workouts. Finding a cardio workout that you enjoy doing makes your workouts more enjoyable and more successful. You are then more likely to stick to it. Here are some great cardio workout choices, but feel free to come up with your own aerobic selections.

Your training heart rate range should fall somewhere between 60 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Multiply your maximum heart rate by .6 (60 percent) to find the lower end of your target heart rate zone. Then multiply your maximum heart rate by .85 to find the higher end of the zone.

You can check your heart rate during exercise by counting the beats of your pulse for ten seconds. Multiply the number of beats by 6. If it’s too low, you’ve got to work harder. If it’s too high, slow down

If you're a beginner or haven’t exercised in a while, it is safest to exercise near the lower range of your target heart rate. Always start and end your cardio workout in the lower end of the range to serve as an aerobic warm-up and cool-down.

  • Power walking: This exercise can be done anywhere and it puts very little pressure on the joints. Whether you use a treadmill, sneak out your front door, or cruise the shopping mall, strutting your stuff is a safe and effective cardio workout.

  • Riding a stationary bike: Using a stationary bike that has moveable handlebars can provide the added benefit of an upper-body workout. Take the time to imagine being in the country, the mountains, or even the beach. A ride on your bike can help you escape while delivering aerobic results.

    Adjust the seat so that when your legs are in the down position there is a slight bend in the knees. Use the handlebars for light support, but do not lean into them with all your weight. Keep your shoulders relaxed.

    As you pedal, keep your knees forward, and not out to the side, to avoid injury. Keeping your knees in a side, frog-like position can irritate the joints and eventually cause pain.

  • Shadow boxing: Jab, punch, right hook, left hook — it doesn’t matter if you don’t know Oscar De La Hoya from Oscar De La Renta or Oscar Mayer Weiner, just as long as your body is moving in large, rhythmic motions. Imagine you are beating down all your troubles. Shadow boxing can help you to manage your stress while you get all the benefits of a super cardio workout.

  • Dancing: Turn on the radio, CD, or MP3 player and just keep moving. Choose music that is upbeat and energizing.

    Use large movements to move your arms and legs. This can get the circulation going throughout your entire body and raise your heart rate.

  • Jumping rope: Pull out that jump rope and feel like a kid again as you burn calories and work your heart. If you find it too challenging to jump non-stop, take a ten-second break every ten seconds until your endurance improves. Be patient.

    Feel free to do this aerobic activity minus the rope if you are a beginner, haven’t exercised in a while, or are a klutz.

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  • Workout step or stairs: Going up and down stairs provides an excellent cardio workout. You can use a workout step that is available at any sporting goods store or the stairs at your home, office, park, or mall. The up and down motion is a great way to get the circulation going and work the heart. For best results, pump your arms during your workout.


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