Learn More About Cardio Exercise
What it is: Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises are endurance activities that use your large muscle groups in rhythmic motion over a sustained period of time. Cardio workouts get your heart pumping and you’ll breathe harder than normal and may even feel a little short of breath. Cardio activities include:
- Brisk walking
- Aerobics classes
- Stair climbing
- Elliptical training
Why it’s good for you: Whatever your age, cardio can help to increase your lung capacity, strengthen your heart and muscles, and improve your stamina and endurance. Cardio workouts can also:
Help control weight by burning calories and regulating appetite.
- Lower blood pressure and control blood sugar.
- Reduce the risk of falls in older adults.
- Improve memory and thinking; even help prevent mental decline and manage symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
- Reduce joint pain and stiffness.
- Release tension, boost your mood, and help you to sleep better at night.
- Walking: an easy introduction to cardio exercise
- Walking briskly for just 22 minutes a day will help you to reach your minimum weekly goal of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise—and in the process, lower your risk of heart disease and obesity. Walking doesn’t require any special skills or training. Aside from a comfortable pair of shoes, you don’t need any specialized equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere. You just have to resolve to get up and go.
Look for creative ways to fit a brisk walk into your daily schedule. Ditch the car and walk to the grocery store, for example, or take a walk during your lunch hour, or walk while you’re talking on the phone.
Use a walk to clear your head. Use the time to take a break from the stressors of everyday life and give yourself some precious alone time. Fresh air and some time to think can work wonders for your mood.
Or make it a social event and walk with others. Invite friends, family members, or work colleagues to walk with you. Taking a walk can provide a great opportunity to catch up with an existing friend or strengthen the bond with a new one.
Enjoy time in nature. Walking in parks, on beaches, or along hiking trails or riverbanks can add to the mood boost you experience from exercising. Spending time in nature can release endorphins, the brain’s feel-good chemicals that improve mood and relieve stress.
Walk in a mall or on a treadmill. When the weather’s bad, you can walk briskly around a mall while window shopping or use a treadmill in a gym or health club and catch up on your favorite TV show or podcast.
Walk a dog. If you don’t own a dog, you can volunteer to walk homeless dogs for an animal shelter or rescue group. You’ll not only be helping yourself but also be helping to socialize and exercise the dogs, making them more adoptable.