Friday, September 22, 2017

Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is one of the key ingredients to any successful fitness program. A well balanced cardio program strengthens the heart muscle. It improves the heart's ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body, builds endurance, helps lose excess fat that hides muscle definition, and improves coordination and range of motion. You would think that these health benefits alone would be sufficient motivation. However, many are derailed by those ever present excuses: it takes too much time, the weather, "I'll do it tomorrow", and the list goes on. Excuses are just that, and when you take a closer look it's all about results versus expectations.  This is usually a direct result of biting off more than we can chew or we hit a plateau with our current cardio efforts, get discouraged, and quit. Case in point, how many treadmills do you think you would see at ten garage sales? My guess is at least seven.

So, how do we fix it and get back on track?

1. Set realistic Goals: These goals should be time dated with established benchmarks or checkpoints to monitor your progress. For example, if you are trying to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months establish checkpoints every 30 days. It might look like this:

Goal: Lose 20lbs by June

Total Pounds Jan Feb Mar Apr May June
Lost 3.5 7 10.5 14 17.5 21

At these checkpoints, reward yourself if you hit the mark.  If you didn't hit the mark, evaluate why and make the necessary changes to get back on track. This provides you with tangible results in digestable bites and keeps your fuel tank full.

2. Establish a Game Plan: Avoid those plateus created by redundancy. Evaluate your resources and mix it up.  There is the gym, parks, schools for running, jump rope, rowing, hiking, swimming, and cycling.  There are no real established time tables for cardio exercises. So, invest the time that best suits your needs, schedule, and established goals. As food for thought, my schedule includes 20 minute cardio sessions every other day either jumping rope, rowing, or spinning.  This fits well and compliments my weight training schdeule. For a little more insight on the positive impact of rowing, check out my post all about rowing HERE.

As you can see, there are plenty of avenues to help you find the cardio exercises that best fit your needs.  Just remember to set realistic expectations, establish an applicable plan, enjoy the challenge, and you will get better results.

Until next time, enjoy your workouts.