Cardio/Aerobic Exercise

Looking for a way to burn calories and fat, improve your health and cardiovascular system, and just have fun? Then it's time to get active with some cardiovascular and aerobic exercise!

What is Cardio?
Cardiovascular exercise or aerobic exercise is movement that stimulates the circulatory and respiratory functions of the body and increases oxygen intake. Popular types of cardio exercise include cycling, jogging, swimming, and martial arts. Aerobic exercise has many benefits, such as burning fat, strengthening the heart and lungs, building bone mass and increasing muscle tone. To achieve fitness, many health professionals advise people to commit to at least 30 minutes a day at a minimum of three times a week.

What Kind of Aerobic Exercise?
Some people think aerobic exercise means running on a treadmill. While some people enjoy this, treadmill running is not everyone�s cup of tea. Luckily, there are all sorts of aerobic activities to choose from such as water aerobics, step aerobics or cardio kickboxing. Many gyms offer free aerobic classes to their members; if you have a gym membership, find out what classes are available to you. Trying a variety of classes will help you find your niche when it comes to cardio exercise.

While you may be tempted to dive right in to exercising, it may be a good idea to start off slowly, even if you used to be very active. Although it can take a while to build up your cardiovascular health, it doesn�t take the long to weaken it. If you have been inactive for a long time or you have a sports injury, you might want to try something a bit less strenuous, but equally enjoyable, like walking, playing tennis or golf, or swimming.

The best cardio exercise for you is one in which you can meet your target heart rate. A target heart rate is 50% to 70% of your heart�s maximum rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

Target Heart Rate Chart

Age Target Heart Rate(50-70%) Average Maximum Heart Rate (100%)
20-25 100-146 beats/min 195-200 beats/min
30-35 95-138 beats/min 185-190 beats/min
40-45 90-131 beats/min 175-180 beats/min
50-55 85-123 beats/min 165-170 beats/min
60-65 80-116 beats/min 155-160 beats/min

Cardio Safety
Before beginning your cardio or fitness routine, you should take certain safety precautions to guard against injury and other health risks.

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after activity. You should drink 4-6 ounces of water every 20 minutes.
  • Wear loose clothing to aid in your circulation and allow you to feel comfortable throughout your workout.
  • Wait at least one hour after a large meal before you exercise.
  • If exercising outdoors, take caution in hot or cold weather. You should not exercise outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on hot summer days. In cold weather, you should have the proper clothing.
  • Don�t forget to stretch after your workout to prevent stiffness.
  • Stop your workout if you feel dizzy or if you have pain.

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