How to Choose Your Cardio Activity

By Dan DeFigio

Which cardio exercise (or which cardio machine) is the best? They’re pretty much all the same. Cardiovascular exercise is the simplest kind of exercise. If you walk, jog, dance, or hike, you don’t need any special equipment, and you can exercise pretty much anywhere and at any time.

Cardio exercise generally requires no practice or special skills, and it provides an easy way to work up a good sweat, burn some extra calories, loosen your stiff muscles, and clear your head.

The purpose of cardiovascular exercise is to elevate your heart rate and respiration for a particular length of time. Cardio doesn’t tax your muscles enough to stimulate much muscular development, so asking which cardio gizmo works your legs more (or hips, or butt, or whatever body part you’re trying to target) is moot.

Your level of exertion — how high your heart rate gets and how hard you breathe — determines how many calories you burn. Whether you’re jogging, cycling, using the elliptical machine, jumping rope, or swimming, the benefits are determined by how hard you exercise, not by the kind of cardio you pick.

The best cardio to choose is one you enjoy — or at least one you don’t hate. You have hundreds of ways to exercise, so pick something you don’t dread. Mix it up so you don’t get bored.