Running, jogging, sprinting, spinning, fast walking, aerobics, swimming, cycling - these are just some of the activities that fall under the umbrella of cardiovascular exercise.
asically, cardiovascular exercise is any activity that raises your heart rate and of all the types of exercise, cardio is probably the most common. It's easy to do, can be done anywhere and it's generally free or affordable. But it's easy to get wrong.
Cardio is all about intensity and you have to work hard to get the benefits. It's all very well to go for a nice relaxing walk as a leisure activity, and it is definitely better for you than sitting on the couch, but if you want to achieve weight loss or increase fitness, you have to make an effort.
There are two ways to approach this, depending on your fitness level. You can use high intensity intervals - there was a great piece on this in Health & Living yesterday so check it out on independent.ie. High intensity intervals are for the already fairly fit and involve spurts of activity at maximum endurance followed by short periods of rest. HIIT is incredibly beneficial but it's not for everyone.
The other way is to perform to your talk test. This means that when you are exercising, you are out of breath but just about able to hold a conversation or count to 10.
When you use either of these cardio methods, you will get endorphin release (the happy hormone), stress release, cardiac benefits, visceral fat burning and physical changes to your body.
If you don't push yourself, you are wasting your time. The beauty of the HIIT and the talk test is that the fitter you get, the harder you have to work to hit maximum endurance or the point where you are out of breath but able to count to 10. If you are honest with yourself and keep pushing your limits, you will never plateau.
Another key component to cardiovascular work is changing your exercise routine as often as you can. So change your: activity, speed, route, profile, gait or time.
Doing the same thing over and over again won't get you results.
At the very start of this plan, I asked you to do three hours a week of exercise. Now in week three, you have three exercises. Try and do five sets of the three on at least one of your resistance workouts.
Use HIIT or the talk test for all your cardio workouts. Take rest days when you need them and always, always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise programme. Well done on keeping up so far - you are doing great. Good luck!
Exercise of the week: table press-up
What you need: Table, bench or a wall
Frequency: Perform the exercise for one minute, take a break and repeat x4
WEEK three food:
Breakfast: This week, have oats or eggs for breakfast. It is important to break your fast so never, ever skip breakfast. Water and lemon before breakfast is a great start to the day.
5 ways to increase cardio
1 get off the bus or train one stop early
This is one of the simplest ways to get exercise in. On the way into work, or on the way home, why not get off a stop early or even a few stops and walk the rest of the way? Try reaching the talk test point and it will count towards your three hours.
2 Have one car-free day at the weekend
Save fuel and get fit at the same time! Pick one day at the weekend where you hang up the car keys and walk everywhere.
3 use the stairs
Enforce the lift/elevator ban. From now on use your legs. We have stairs all around us, yet when there is a lift, people rarely use them. Walking up the stairs works all the muscles in your legs and over time will give you a great shape. When you are fitter, I will show you more ways you can use stairs to work out but for now, just start using them!
4 walk to lunch
During your lunch break, why not pick somewhere that is 20 minutes walk away to eat. Pick up your food and the walk the 20 mins back. It's a simple tip that can actually make a big difference to you.
5 exercise early
Exercise is the best way to start the day so try and do it first thing. You will feel good all day and be less likely to make unhealthy choices.
Week 3 summary
lCheck your weight, waist measurement and your fitness levels to measure your progress.
Up your efforts on cardio and try and do the three exercises you have learned during one resistance workout. Always work to your ability and take breaks where necessary.
Eat oats or eggs for breakfast, have greens with at least two meals and swap your white food for brown.
Exercises at a glance
Tuesday: Resistance - Table press-up, side leg raises, static ski squat - five sets of one minute for each
Wednesday: Fitness test
Thursday: Resistance - Table press-up and one other exercise if you can
Friday: Cardio (running, walking or tennis, etc)
Saturday: As Thursday
Simply bend the elbows, lower your chest to the table and then straighten your arms to start position
Start with your hands on the table, wider than shoulder width. Keep your bum in the air and back flat