It’s time to boost your cardiovascular fitness.
The good thing is that increasing your cardiovascular fitness involves doing actual cardio that we always talk about when we need to lose weight. I’m not talking about a leisurely walk to the end of the sidewalk. If that’s all you can do, then it’s a great start. But if after the walk you don’t feel like you put in real effort, it doesn’t count. You have to really feel the effort. You should be able to feel your heartbeat raise and be slightly out of breath. It should be one of those experiences that push you past your comfort zone to make you stronger. If it doesn’t, then you can’t call it cardio.
It only counts if your heart is pumpin’.
Your heart is a muscle, just like your biceps and glutes are a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets. The stronger it gets, the more efficient it becomes at getting blood to where it needs to go. This may not seem so important, but if your blood can’t get to your brain or extremities, things will shut down. That’s why we need to make sure we keep it in shape.
Strengthening your heart, like I said earlier, involves cardio, like running, biking, swimming, or circuit training. Anything that gets your heart pumping and the sweat dripping counts as cardio. That means that you don’t have to run if you hate it. Prefer to lift weights? Then take your usual routine, lower the weight, and put a time limit on it. See how fast you can move through your routine without stopping. Find activities you don’t mind doing and speed them up. Jumping, squatting, push ups. As long as you don’t slow down, your heart rate will increase.
The first step is finding something that you’ll really enjoy. Maybe it’s some crazy CrossFit style boot camp class, or maybe it’s a Zumba class where you can dance your cares away. It could be jumping on your bike and riding miles and miles, or climbing on the treadmill for a 15 minute interval walk/jog.
As I mentioned above, if you don’t like the traditional cardio route, don’t do it. Find something you do enjoy.
However, as much as you may hate it at first, I challenge you to give it a try. You’d be surprised how rewarding running your fastest mile can feel.
You’ve gotta start somewhere.
When I first started working out at the gym, I loaded my iPod up with movies and would walk on the treadmill at an incline while watching them. I’d bring a book I was really into and read it while I was on the stationary bike. These aren’t ideal conditions, of course, but it was enough to get me moving. Eventually, I stopped paying attention to the book or movies, and I wanted to see just how hard I could work in the limited time I had working out.
Find what works for you and go from there. Don’t over think it. Just find something that works and go with it.
Circuit training is also included as cardio. I briefly mentioned this earlier but I didn’t give it a name.
If you truly hate any of the traditional methods of getting your cardio in, look no farther than circuit training. This is when you set up different stations and you move through them as quickly as possible. This increases both your muscular endurance as well as your cardiovascular health, since it gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat. Try a circuit of different body weight exercises, like push ups, crunches, triceps dips, and jumping jacks. Set the timer for a minute at each station with thirty seconds of rest in-between each exercise. Go through it five or six times. I promise you that your heart will be moving quick.
If you look at a lot of the social media dedicated to weight loss, you’ll see a lot of Non Scale Victories (#nsv, #nonscalevictory). These are all things dedicated to being proud of accomplishments outside of the scale. While increasing your cardio abilities, it’ll be easier to find non scale victories of your own.
Plus, having a stronger heart also increases your metabolism. This means that you more efficiently use energy throughout the day. To put it simply: you burn more calories even when you’re doing nothing more than sitting at the computer. Basically, if you want to lose weight, work your heart. It helps your entire body work better.
I used to tell myself that when I lost weight I’d care about my heart. Little did I know that my heart makes all the difference in weight loss.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Take what you know, and go with it.
What’s your plan? What type of cardio do you enjoy doing? Any goals?