The perfect complement to strength training is cardio exercise. A regimen of regular cardio exercise improves the function of your lungs, heart, and blood vessels. Over time, it gives you greater endurance for heart-pumping tasks like running, dancing, and swimming. It also reduces your risk of a whole medical manual of health problems, from diabetes to depression. It might even help you dodge a coronary catastrophe.
Getting cardio exercise is cheap and easy. You don’t need special equipment or expert advice. You simply need to do something tiring (say, jumping up and down in one spot, or dancing around in your pajamas). Do it until you start breathing heavily, and then keep at it for at least 20 more minutes. This may not sound glamorous (in fact, if you pick the pajama option, it’s downright embarrassing), but the science is sound.
The best approach to cardio exercise is to follow a regular regimen three times a week. But—surprisingly—research shows that even a single session each week has a positive effect on heart health. This finding kicks the legs out of your last good excuse to stay on the sofa.
There are two basic types of cardio exercisers—those who like slow and steady activity (say, a brisk 1-hour walk), and those who prefer shorter bursts of higher intensity work (say, 20 minutes in a hard-driving aerobics class). Both approaches are effective, and both help you burn calories and strengthen your heart. The key is to pick the right duration for your activity. If you opt for a high-intensity workout, 20 or 30 minutes is enough. A more leisurely activity requires twice that time.
Types of Cardio Exercise
If you get tired of having your friends and family laugh at your impromptu jumping jacks, you can try a more traditional form of aerobic exercise. Here are some of the most popular:
• Running. Requiring nothing more than time and a decent pair of running shoes, running is the most straightforward way to get your heart pumping. It’s also a marvelously adaptable exercise you can tailor to any fitness level. To go easy on yourself, alternate between brisk walking and a light jog. For hard-core training, maintain a steady jog with bursts of flat-out sprinting.
Running isn’t for people with joint problems because the impact of your feet striking the ground can put excess stress on your knees and ankles. However, if your joints are currently pain-free don’t worry about running. Recent research suggests that healthy runners don’t suffer from a greater incidence of joint problems than other exercisers.
• Jumping rope. Like running, rope skipping is a highly portable way to get intense aerobic exercise wherever you go. You can’t slip an entire gym in your pocket, but there’s always room for a jump rope.
• Swimming. If you have a pool handy, you can use swimming as a fullbody, low-impact form of exercise. Because it’s so gentle on the joints, many people like to alternate swimming with other types of cardio exercise to create a weekly workout program.
• Bicycling. Like running, cycling is an activity you can do either indoors (on a machine) or outside (on the street). As a side benefit, the effort of keeping yourself balanced on two wheels strengthens the muscles throughout your body.
• Cross-country skiing. It’s one of the most intense forms of full-body aerobic exercise around. Cross-country skiing has obvious disadvantages— for instance, you need a snowy trail and a lot of equipment— and newbies will find it extremely challenging. But it makes an excellent excuse to book that Nordic vacation.
• Step aerobics. Any aerobic workout routine can deliver the goods, but step aerobics stands out from the late-night infomercial gimmicks. Two decades after its creation, the basic idea (performing choreographed movements using a raised platform) remains wildly popular. Done right, step aerobics has the perfect mix of low-impact exercise and intense effort. To get started, you can try an exercise DVD. Or better yet, join a class at your local fitness club or community center.
• Gym equipment. Purists might say that a treadmill gives you all the effort of running with none of the scenery, but exercise equipment is the perfect solution for many casual exercisers. And even if the convenience of treadmills, steppers, and elliptical trainers doesn’t seduce you, you just might fall for the shiny electronic gadgetry (such as programmed courses and integrated heart-rate monitoring). If not, there’s always the wall-mounted television.
The experts agree—the best way to choose a cardio exercise is to forget about calories per minute and pick something you enjoy doing and can easily integrate into your daily routine. This gives you the best chance of maintaining a regular routine—and regularity is far more important than the type of exercise you choose.
Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual