More than casual walk needed to benefit heart, include aerobic exercises
If you can't feel your heartbeat during a workout, then you're not working hard enough to reap cardio benefits. You need to rev it up a bit.
Weight workout, Pilates and yoga are all great ways to tone and stretch your muscles. A morning stroll is good for clearing the mind and getting some exercise.
But if your goal is also to get the heart in shape, you need to add some aerobic exercises. Yes, it means you'll sweat, breathe harder and feel the stress, but that's the only way you'll achieve the cardiovascular gains your heart needs.
A more strenuous workout will automatically increase the heart rate, which will improve your circulation, increase the supply of oxygen and help nutrients circulate throughout the body.
The best measure of this is maximum heart rate. A simple rule to start with is: 220 minus your age. Aim for 60 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate for a good aerobic benefiting work- out.
You can measure this as you go by taking your heart rate for 15 seconds and multiplying by four or wear a heart monitor, which will constantly monitor your heart rate.
Working your cardiovascular system is not easy, but it can be fun. Look at it as a sign that the body is achieving an intensity that will improve your level of fitness.
Whether it's 20 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes on the exercise bike or 20 minutes on the rowing machine before or after your normal exercise workout, your heart will reap the benefits.
Aerobic exercise conditions our hearts, and arteries and respiratory systems. It increases stamina and general fitness. It promotes cleansing the blood by stimulating circulation and perspiration. It gives a sense of strength and well-being, in part by releasing endorphins, the opiate-like molecules in the brain that can make us high, happy and more tolerant of discomfort.
It increases the flow of oxygen to all organs, enabling them to work more efficiently. It burns calories. It strengthens the immune system. It reduces stress. It lowers serum cholesterol. It tones the nervous system. It's the type of exercise most people need to concentrate on first.
You should do something aerobic every single day. Aim for at least 30 minutes of consistent aerobic exercise five days a week.
Walk - Walk a mile in 15 to 16 minutes, adding some uphill or walking to fast beat music on a treadmill.
Dance - Sign up for a dance class. Aim for at least 30 to 45 minutes of fairly constant dancing.
Jump rope - Start out easy, single jumping and then work up to double skips, single foot and criss-cross jumping. This is a good one to intersperse with other workouts such as weights, Pilates or yoga.
Par the course - Exercise par-courses are available in most parks. The beauty of these is that they give you the opportunity to do exercises and jog between stations. This type of circuit training will allow you work your abs, do pull-ups, step-ups, push-ups and jog.
Debbie Foerstner is certified as a fitness instructor by the American Council on Exercise. She can be reached at email@example.com.