When most of us think of doing cardio exercises, the treadmill, elliptical or stair climber come to mind. But come on, face it – that can be boring no matter how many bells and whistles are on the machine to help you pass the time. So why not have some fun while getting that heart rate up?
First of all let’s understand what “cardio” is. It’s a shortened term for cardiovascular – the circulatory system consisting of the heart and blood vessels in your body. Cardio exercise is ANY exercise (operative word being “any”) which raises your *heart rate. The recommended amount of cardio for healthy adults is 20 minutes or more, 3-5 times a week.
In order to keep our muscles in shape, we have to move them. Think how you feel after sitting in the car for a long drive or working at your desk for extended periods. You might be tired, stiff, or your back and shoulders ache. Well, your heart is a muscle. So working it by doing cardio exercise makes it stronger.
Some of the additional benefits of cardio exercise are:
- Increased bone density
- Weight loss
- Less stress
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Better sleep
- More energy
Those are some pretty inspiring reasons to get moving. So here are a few ideas to get you started. They might even take you back to your childhood and have the added benefit of making you feel younger!
Who doesn’t remember hula hooping? Well, not only is it good for getting your heart rate up but it helps strengthen your core and can help with back pain. You can even get them with massage balls in the hoop. However, you want a weighted hoop and not the ones you find in the toy department. That’s part of the reason you may have had a hard time keeping the hoop moving. Do a search on the internet and you can find suppliers and loads of videos. Half the fun will be choosing the colors for your personal hoop! I have two hoops in different sizes, weights and colors. Remember, the lighter the hoop, the more you have to work to keep it moving. Pick out your favorite music and just let it flow. So what if it falls, just pick it up and get moving again.
Being a dance instructor, I could do an entire article of the benefits and types of dance. But I’ll spare you the lecture. Instead, find a style that speaks to you. If you want to get your husband or significant other involved with you there is swing dancing, salsa or the sexy tango. Or if you don’t have a partner, sign up for some classes and you never know who you might meet!
Check out kids dance studios in your area for adult classes. Many offer tap or ballet classes just for adults. I had a group of adults who tap danced at my studio for 20 years! Not only were they there for exercise and fun but the friendships formed are still intact today.
Another awesome form of dance is belly dancing. It’s fun, sensual and one of the best forms of exercise. You don’t have to wear the bare midriff costumes. It’s the movement that counts.
And if nothing else – just put on your favorite music and dance around your house. I have been known to tap dance while vacuuming! Of course, my husband is not home when I do this and our dogs look at me like I’m crazy, but who cares?
I’m not talking about the large gymnastic trampolines – but if you have one and use it, that’s awesome. A rebounder is a mini trampoline. It’s about 3’ round and 9” high. Some even have a bar you can hold onto. So why is this so good for you? Well, you know when you jump it gets your heart rate up but it can hurt your back and knees. But rebounding is gentle on the body. It also stimulates the lymph system. This system carries nutrients to the cells and is dependent on movement to do this. So when the nourishment can’t get to the cells, it becomes stagnant. The vertical movement of rebounding, helps get the circulation moving through the lymph system. Make sure to start with only a couple of minutes at a time and gradually increase your time.
Note: if you do Pilates on the reformer, the jump board has the same benefits!
Walking is probably one of the most popular forms of exercise – especially as we get older. It’s easy on the body, great for socializing, and gets us outside. But in addition to walking around your neighborhood, get creative. Park your car at the far end of the lot instead of the spot closest to your destination. My husband is great for this. I even get extra cardio trying to keep up with him. Use the stairs whenever possible. Ditch the car for errands close to home and walk at a brisk pace. If you can, find a labyrinth. Not only will the physical exercise be good for you but it’s a great way to meditate.
I really don’t want to use the term chores, so I’ll call them activities. It’s a psychological thing – activities are fun, chores have to be done. Vacuuming, gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning all can contribute to cardio exercise if you do them at a brisk pace. It also helps to get them over with faster. Just keep reminding yourself of the good you are doing for you health.
So, all in all, there are lots of ways to get your cardio exercise without being bored. Don’t be afraid to try something new – you just might like it!
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