When you hear the word ‘exercise’, what do you think of? Do you think of walking, jogging or perhaps swimming? If you do, that’s because they are probably the most common and are great cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise options that you can choose to do.
Cardio or aerobic exercise is a ‘must’ in your fitness arsenal. The reason is it is direct and specific conditioning for the most important muscle in the body – the heart and its companion, the lungs. Another reason is that you don’t need special equipment or a gym membership in order to do it. It can be done indoors or out; alone or with a friend or a group of friends, and it burns body fat.
Cardiovscular Fitness: Find Your Target Heart Rate
In order to burn body fat, you have to get your heart rate up to the point in which your body will begin to burn fat. This point is called the target heart rate (THR) and be determined by knowing what your maximum heart rate is.
Okay, there’s a little math involve. But that’s okay because the formula is simple. Simply multiply your age by .0685 and then subtract the total from 205.8. The answer you get will be your maximum heart rate.
Why is knowing what your target heart rate should be important? So you can get the most from your cardiovascular exercise workout. What numbers should you be looking for?
- Ø A beginners target heart rate should be 50% of the maximum
- Ø An advanced target heart rate of up to 70% of the maximum
Keep in mind these percentages will vary from individual to individual and each one’s current fitness level.
I recommend to my clients who are just starting out to check their pulse regularly during cardiovascular conditioning. To assess your target heart rate, take your pulse at your wrist or side of your neck for 6 seconds and multiply that number by 10. If using your fingers to check your pulse isn’t for you, invest in a quality heart rate monitor so that you can see where your heart rate is at any given time. For those who exercise on a regular basis, they use the “talk test”. With this test, you pass when you can carry on a conversation without gasping for air while working out.
By the way, if you take your pulse manually, be sure to use your finger not the thumb. The index finger seems to be the easiest to apply. The thumb has a pulse and most probably will skew the result.
Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise
There are wonderful benefits to all types of exercises. However, aerobic workouts provide additional benefits and I see these results all the time. If I’m guessing correctly, I am sure that you want to experience these same results too.
To stimulate the heart to beat faster for a specific of time, the stronger it gets. Simply put, a strong hear encourages a healthy body.
No one wants to be down in the dumps and stressed out all of the time. Being in good spirits and not worrying about “stuff” is definitely better than the alternative, in my opinion. The sense of well being you feel from aerobic exercise is the result of endorphins being released by your body. Once you experience this wonderful feeling just from doing some basic cardio work, you’ll want to make sure you never miss a session.
I won’t sugar coat it. Pardon the pun. It’s going to take healthy eating and consistency in your exercise regimen to get rid of excess fat. Remember, when you perform aerobic exercises and lift weights your body can turn into a fat-burning machine. That alone can be a huge incentive to get motivated and stay motivated.
A stronger heart, stronger lungs and reducing fat are three great reasons to incorporate cardiovascular exercise into your daily routine.
Cardiovascular Fitness Basics and Training Tips
Your heart rate responds to changes in your activity – faster, slower, up, down. However, there are other factors that will affect your heart rate that you need to be aware of:
- If you are using a pacemaker or taking drugs to keep your heart rate steady.
- If you are taking medication that can raise or lower your heart rate such as cold medication, appetite suppressants, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure.
- If you have recently consumed caffeine. Caffeine is not only found in coffee and tea, but also sodas and some medications.
The general rule that has served me well is to judge your exercise by the effect. Pay attention to your breathing and comfort level. If you are breathing and talking easily during exercise, you probably are working below aerobic level. If you are breathing deeply but not gasping, you are in the aerobic range. If you are wheezing and unable to string more than 3 words together, mostly probably, you are in, what we call, an anaerobic state.
To get the most out of cardiovascular conditioning, you may find these tips helpful:
Set a Goal – Establish some kind of marker that, no matter how simple, that connects your aerobic routine with a purpose. Pushing yourself to improve is key to both enjoyment and adherence.
Select Your Exercise – The best exercise is the one you’ll do. It must fit into your general lifestyle.
Set Your Schedule – Slot your training time into your day and commit to it.