Five Steps to Cardio Success

Is cardio fitness as easy as running a mile? Are you "in shape" when you can walk two miles in less than 30 minutes? How do you know when you are a success with cardio fitness?

One of the first things to keep in mind is that cardio workouts are only successful when they are "effective". This is something that seems a bit vague but is best translated with another simple word - fatigue.

When the body experiences a mild sense of fatigue after a workout, it usually means that it has been effective. For example, you could jog in place gently for 15 minutes. This might allow you to take enough steps to equal a single mile, but if you are not the least bit tired after doing this, it could mean that you didn't challenge the body enough to gain any cardio benefits.

So, let's understand what it takes to perform cardio workouts that lead to fatigue and success:

  1. You must warm up - While you could just start running at your maximum level and keep going for a few miles, you would not get the benefits of a good warm up. By warming up we do not mean stretching. You should only stretch once the muscles have been engaged - or during the cooling down period. Warm up means a good transitional period between being sedentary and at full capacity.

  2. Know capacity - Understanding the heart rate is often a key way of getting the most out of your cardio routines. You want to always experience at least 15 to 30 minutes of intensity that demands you work at 65% to 85%.

  3. Can we talk? - The best place to maintain your cardio level is at a place where you CAN talk, but you would rather not. In other words, you are winded but not gasping and whooping for breath.

  4. Benefits from cooling down - Never, as in NEVER, stop dead in your workouts. This causes you to experience a forced cooling down. Instead use the final five to seven minutes to gently head back to a sedentary state.

  5. Stretch - Use another five or ten minutes to stretch the body from head to toe. This ensures full circulation and only mild soreness if you have pushed it a bit too hard.

Using these five tips will help you to succeed at all cardio workouts - no matter how short and simple or long and demanding.

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