Do you get easily out of breath after walking up a single flight of stairs? Do you experience pain in your knees and ankles after running only a couple hundred meters? Do you often get chest discomforts and feel lightheaded even if you are not doing anything strenuous?
If your answer is YES to all three questions, then you need to get off the couch, turn your TV off, close your laptop, put your phone down, and start moving! You need to start doing cardio exercises for a healthier mind, heart, and body.
Why should you do cardio exercise?
For our bodies to develop strong and healthy muscles, we have to constantly use and move them. If you do cardio exercise, you raise your heart rate, and work one of the most important muscles in the human body — the heart. The more you do cardio, the stronger your heart gets. Your cardiovascular system becomes better at regulating blood and oxygen to the different parts of the body.
How do you prepare for your cardio routine?
It is quite difficult to change habits. It will take a lot of time and effort. It will not happen in the blink of an eye. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, where the most exercise you get in a day is your walk from the couch to the fridge or the bathroom, starting an active and healthy lifestyle seems to be unattainable. How do you even push yourself? Where do you begin?
Understand and accept the fact that there needs to be a lifestyle change.
If you are overweight and out-of-shape, you have to acknowledge that. You are not healthy because you are doing something that contributes to it. Do you eat fastfood multiple times a day? Does it only take you one sitting to finish a large bag of potato chips? How many cans of soda do you consume daily?
You have to make a total overhaul of your diet. You can start slow by doing away with the softdrinks, and drinking only water. In a few weeks, you will notice how removing even just one unhealthy food item from your meals and replacing it with a healthy option leads to a significant change already. If you eliminate fastfoods and junk foods too, and swap them with fruits and vegetables, you will be shedding those extra pounds off and feeling a lot healthier in a shorter period of time.
Choose activities that you enjoy.
For a lot of people, exercising is not fun at all. The thought of going to the gym, being surrounded by workout machines and equipment, and being around sweaty people is so dull and boring. If you think this as well, then why not just do your own thing? You can exercise someplace else, you can workout with no gym equipment at all, and you can exercise on your own, with no one else around, at home.
If you have a pet dog, then walk him or her a couple of blocks a day. If you have a bike, use it to go to the supermarket or commute to work. If you do not mind stairs, then stop taking the elevators and walk up and down those steps as much as possible.
Tell yourself that taking the first step is the hardest.
It is okay to have a tough time jumping into anything new. It can be scary and anxiety-inducing because even though you want it all to work out, you have no clue what will come your way or if you can handle them. You really have to give your all if you are serious about changing your lifestyle, losing weight, and starting a cardio routine.
Because you are a beginner, no one expects you to complete a three-hour cardio training on day 1. That is simply unsustainable and absurd. Do not be pressured and feel that you have to perform well right away. Doing 10 to 15 minutes of running or biking on your first week of exercising is totally fine. Just get off your butt!
Reach out to people that you love and trust.
Embarking on a journey like this will introduce you to lots of obstacles. Along the way, there will be tears and laughter, ups and downs. You will feel like you can do everything and come out victorious one day, then feel like the most useless and pathetic human being the next. It will be a rollercoaster ride, so hold on tight.
With a support group made up of close friends and family that you know will always be there for you, you can take one step at a time, and receive encouragement and find motivation that should help keep you going.
What are the best cardio workouts?
Running is probably the most highly recommended cardio exercise to anyone who wants to start a cardio routine. It is free and does not require any workout equipment. All you need is a good quality pair of running shoes, and you are all set. If you are a beginner, you can start by running at a slow pace around your block for 15 to 30 minutes a day. Then, after every week or so, increase your pace and cover more distance. Doing so allows you to burn more calories, and takes your workout to the next level.
Cycling is another beginner-friendly cardio exercise that workout newbies should try. With a bicycle, you can work not only your heart, but also your legs and thighs, as you pedal. You can start by exploring your neighborhood, and then moving on to hills and other areas with incline for a more challenging course.
Swimming is also an excellent cardio workout that impacts the entire body. When you do laps, your arm, back, core, thigh, and leg muscles are used. You can try different strokes to get to as many muscle groups as possible. Over time, increase your pace to keep your heart and lungs working harder.