What is the key to losing unwanted fat? No, it isn’t dieting. In fact, the key lies in burning off the fat by a combination of effective cardio exercises that raise your heart rate and metabolic rate, supplemented with a balanced diet that ensures your metabolism stays revved up and you lose weight at a balanced pace.
So the next question that arises is – What is the best cardio exercise? Scientists and researchers across the globe have done numerous studies, only to reveal that there really is no ‘One’ best cardio. Any cardio is good – after all the idea is to increase your heart rate, burn calories and stick to the exercise routine. So in all earnestness, the right cardio for you is the one that you actually like to do, or enjoy doing so that you stick to it. It could be simple walking, running, jogging, climbing stairs or swimming. There are a variety of cardio exercises, and some that even provide interval cardio training for more effectiveness. But this article will focus on 5 simple and effective cardio exercises that are not only for professional bodybuilders and athletes, but for anyone who wants to stay in shape.
1. Walking –
One of the most popular cardio exercises, walking has been used for ages for people of all fitness levels. Whether you are a pregnant woman looking for a safe workout, or an old man who wants a good exercise that doesn’t exert undue pressure on your knees and other joints; walking works for everyone. It is best to buy a pedometer to track your steps, and keep a close eye on the number of calories you have burnt.
However, don’t underestimate walking. If you are a fitness buff who thinks that walking is for amateurs, you would be surprised to know that many fitness experts believe that there is no better exercise than walking, simply because it offers a lot of versatility. To challenge your body you can increase your pace and brisk walk. If you want to challenge your body further, you can use ankle weights or a weight jacket to turn simple walking into a high-level endurance activity. For beginners, walking is the most suitable cardio workout as it is possible to increase the pace, distance and weight with time for better results that make sure you don’t hit a plateau. Walk for 40 to 60 minutes every day to see great results!
2. Running –
The most loved aerobic exercise of all time, running has some major advantages. It accelerates your heart rate fast, making you shed calories and get in shape a lot faster. However, if you are a beginner, it is best to buy special running shoes to make sure you offer your feet the best shock absorption.
While many people prefer to run on a treadmill, it isn’t a bad idea to run outdoors either. Begin by running on a soft surface – a lawn or an open ground rather than a cemented surface. Remember, the key to running lies in breathing right. You don’t have to start running 5 km from day one; what you need to do is run as much as possible and ensure that you exhale and inhale in an easy rhythm. Concentrate on your breathing and allow your body to build endurance as you increase the distance and speed. Running results in a lean, muscular body and is ideal for those looking to lose weight. However, if your goal is to bulk up and gain substantial muscle mass, you will have to complement running with weight training exercises.
3. Gym Machines – Rowing, Elliptical And Skiing Machine
Many fitness experts will tell you that rowing is one of the best cardio workouts, and we don’t disagree! Rowing helps you not just lose fat, but also build lean muscle simultaneously. Rowing exercises target all major muscle groups in the body – abdominal muscles, legs, arms and back. Rowing burns the maximum number of calories out of all cardio exercises.
The elliptical machine and the skiing machine are also great options. However, not everyone can do well with these machines, especially if they are beginners. While all these machines are a great aerobic workout, you will find the first few workouts too strenuous to actually enjoy them. As your muscle endurance and strength builds up, you will see the many advantages of these machines. However, remember that the skiing machine requires more than average co-ordination skills and will take some time to master. Try the ‘talk test’ on these machines to know which one is the best for your particular fitness level. The ‘talk test’ is nothing but being able to have a conversation while exercising at a moderate pace. If you find you can’t speak and are out of breath, reduce the difficulty level on the machine. The biggest advantages of these cardio exercises are that they are done by using indoor machines, which means they can be done through the year regardless of the weather conditions.
4. Swimming –
One of the best cardio exercises ever, swimming uses more upper body muscles as compared to lower body muscles. However, for those with joint aches, joint stress and any other problems, swimming is a much more effective exercise because the water supports weight and exerts lesser pressure on joints. It is possible to easily increase heart rate drastically by swimming; though for that very reason those with cardiac problems should consult with the doctor before starting swimming classes. You can either keep your goal as swimming as many laps as you can in 30 to 40 minutes, or keep your goal as the number of laps you can do per workout session.
5. Aerobics And Dance –
These two are very good cardio workouts for those who want to reduce weight and are not too keen on packing muscle mass. The aerobics or dance classes target on increasing your heart rate and metabolic rate, while also being great fun at the same time! We are sure you have noticed that dancers always have such a great body! The reason is that dancing though looks so glamorous, actually burns a lot of calories because of the wide range of motions involved. Aerobics is very similar, using different motions to target different muscle groups with the ultimate aim to reduce overall body fat and stay fighting fit.