When it comes to getting in shape there are lots of different exercises you can do and a whole array of areas you can work on, but one of the most fundamental and effective aspects of any good workout is your cardio element. A cardio exercise is one that works your heart and lungs. Here are 8 of the best and most effective cardio activities for getting you into shape.
Running is great cardio and it’s perfect for any fitness level. You don’t need to buy anything to be able to do it, you don’t need to bring anything with you, you can do it wherever you go, you can run for as long or as far as you like, you can control the pace and the difficulty of the terrain you choose to run on, and you can increase the difficulty as you get fitter.
Cycling is a fantastic sport for many reasons. It’s an excellent cardio workout as well as being great for your lower body muscles. It can be very high-intensity (depending on how hard you want to push yourself) yet remain very low impact, making it perfect for anybody recovering from an injury or with problematic joints. Plus, it can double as a mode of transport, meaning you can swap the daily peak-hour commute for a cardio session.
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Swimming is another really effective cardio activity that will help build your fitness quickly. It also builds muscle and it’s really low impact, putting very little strain on joints and taking the weight off legs, knees and back, making it ideal for people who have difficulty doing land-based exercises.
Whether you’re rowing for real or just using a rowing machine, rowing is a fantastic exercise that boosts your cardio fitness and builds muscle in several key areas on the body. It’s a high-intensity workout that burns a lot of calories. On a machine, you can generally adjust the resistance to suit your ability. If rowing for real it can be a great team sport, which can help you push your limits and keep you motivated.
Skipping, or jumping rope, is known for its effectiveness at burning calories and raising the heart rate. It’s great because not only is it a highly effective cardio workout but it’s portable and takes up very little room, meaning you can take your rope with you and work out just about anywhere.
If you’re concerned about packing on the pounds on your cosy winter holiday, combat those holiday calories by opting for cross-country skiing as your snow sport of choice. It works your upper and lower body together to produce maximum calorie burn and a high-intensity cardio workout. There’s also a gym machine that simulates this sport which can be just as effective.
Either up and down your own flight of stairs or making-believe on the stair-machine at the gym, stair climbing is a really effective cardio activity that gets the heart racing and produces wonderful toning results for the legs and ‘glutes’. Swapping the elevator for the stairs at work or at the shops is a great way to incorporate a mini-workout into everyday life.
Oh yes, the dreaded burpee. It’s the move that PTs just love to torture us with, but for good reason: they’re incredible cardio. You can do them pretty much anywhere and incorporate a few sets throughout your usual workout routine. If you’re unfamiliar with the burpee, here’s how: squat on the ground with your hands on the floor, kick your legs behind you so you’re in the push-up position, then jump back into the original squat position. Increase the number of reps as you get more comfortable and wish to increase your workout intensity.
For more info on leading a healthier lifestyle visit your nearest GP, healthcare centre or Medicare Local, who specialise in promoting healthier communities, including family and aboriginal health.