Health & Fitness: Smart Cardio Tips

The best, most well-rounded workouts will have your heart pumping. Get the most out of exercising by involving your entire body, not just targeted muscle groups.

The larger goal is right there in the name, which is an abbreviation for cardiovascular. As large muscles in your arms, torso and legs move faster, your pulse and breathing increases, maximizing the health benefits as you get stronger.


Those who are new to cardio should start slowly. Build a low- or moderate-intensity routine that can be performed without overheating for a long period of time. Even at the beginner’s stage, you’ll be strengthening your muscles and heart, burning calories and controlling your appetite, reducing general soreness and some arthritis symptoms, addressing heart disease and high-blood pressure concerns and increasing your endurance and stamina. Some of the best options include walking, swimming, bicycling, golfing, dancing and water-based exercises. Keep in mind that intense cardio activity need not last a long time. Studies have shown that interval workouts as short as 5-10 minutes are better at increasing your aerobic capacity than some forms of endurance training. If you’re starting, or beginning again after injury, consult your doctor since they may have targeted advice on how to protect yourself from re-injury.


As you move further along on your wellness journey, step up to more involving cardio activities like kayaking, martial arts or skating. You’ll also want to create new cardio challenges, whether that’s increasing the incline, or taking advantage of the stop-and go nature of interval workouts. Just remember to begin every time with a series of needed stretches and then a warmup. Ease into these activities with a few minutes of lighter exercises to rev up your body before getting into the more difficult portions of your routine. For instance, you should walk before you run. Stretching helps prevent injury.


Cooling down after your workout is almost as important as stretching before. You want to create a safe offramp so your heart rate and breathing can return safely to normal. Those who are jogging or running shouldn’t just come to an abrupt stop. It’s better to take another lap or two to allow your cardiovascular system to readjust. Bring bottled water along so that you can properly hydrate before your routine, while you’re exercising, and then during this needed final period.