Out of all the muscles in your body, the heart is the most important one. It beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pumping oxygen-rich blood to all your cells and whisking away all the waste products from your bloodstream. When your heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly. Given the heart’s life-giving workload, your cardiovascular fitness (CRF) is essential to your current and long-term health. Cardiovascular fitness measures how well your body takes in oxygen, and then delivers it to all your muscles and organs.
Are you taking care of your heart and incorporating in at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of heart-pumping aerobic physical activity per week?
Since, this month is “Heart Awareness” month it is the perfect time to focus on your cardiovascular fitness for the health of your heart and quality of life. So where do you start?
There are a wide variety of aerobic activities that start your heart pumping, so you need to find which are best for you. Finding the best option for you can be overwhelming and intimidating, but don’t overthink it and just start moving! With that being said, we are here to help. As a start, here are a few of the options we have here at Tri-City Wellness & Fitness Center that can get your heart-pumping!
This is one of the simplest pieces of cardio equipment that you can find in almost any gym. Treadmills are perfect for helping you reach your daily step goal, train for an upcoming race or rehab from a surgery.
- Start slowly. Begin by placing each foot on either side of the belt. Then turn on the machine, and only step on the belt after you ensure it is moving at the pace you desire and is safe for you (usually between 1-2 miles per hour).
- Don’t rely on the handrails. Hold onto the handrails when you are first turning on the treadmill and learning how the machine works. But once you feel balanced and comfortable try to let go and move more naturally, swinging your arms freely.
- Look straight ahead. Our feet follow our gaze, so if you focus on what is ahead of you, you will walk straight ahead instead of veering off to the side.
Challenge: Try walking for a set amount of time or miles, increase the incline or try one of the programmed workouts.
Ellipticals are low-impact pieces of cardio equipment that support fast calorie burn and muscle engagement. They are easy to use, but require correct body positioning for an effective and safe workout.
- Step on. Grasp the stationary handlebars, then place a foot on each pedal because the machine will immediately move.
- Align your feet. The pedals are large allowing extra space for comfort. Keep your feet parallel with the edges of the pedals.
- Straighten your back. Keep your spine straight and long, head upright and abdominals tucked in.
- Position your arms. Lightly grip the stationary handlebars for balance or the moving handlebars for an upper body workout as well. Soft bend in the elbows while your shoulders are back and down.
- Now pedal. To begin pedaling bend your knees slightly and push one foot forward and down while the other comes backwards and up. As you continue pedaling, your legs should move around in an oval shaped manner.
Challenge: Try increasing your time, resistance or incline, or one of the programmed workouts.
Biking is another excellent form of low-impact aerobic exercise, making it easier on your joints and approachable for all fitness levels. However, the wrong set-up can result in discomfort and injury.
- Seat Height. Stand next to your bike and adjust the height of the seat to the height of your hip bone. Next, climb on the bike and place your feet on your bike pedals and extend one foot to the bottom of your pedal stroke. If you have a slight bend in the knee with the heel on the pedal, your seat is at the right height for your legs. If the seat is too low it will put unwanted strain on your knees.
Challenge: Try riding at a faster RPM, going further or trying one of the programmed workouts.
Rowing is a low-impact form of aerobic training that utilizes all major muscle groups, including your legs, core, back and arms.
- Begin by sliding your feet into the foot plates and adjust the strap across the base of your big toe/ball of your foot, and pull straps snug. Lightly hold the handle at either end with an overhand grip. Shins should be vertical, lats engaged, shoulders relaxed and core braced.
- Then drive. Start by applying force through your legs to the machine to extend your legs. Pull the handle to the base of your sternum. Making sure your core muscles activate and stay tight.
Challenge: Row for time, row 8x for 400 meters, or row for a certain amount of calories.
Talk about feeling a burn in the muscles and the lungs! The StairMaster works your hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves if you have the proper technique.
- Adjust your stepper’s intensity level until you feel your heart rate go up and you break a sweat. If you are stepping so fast that your breathing is hard and you can only get out a few words at a time you are going too fast.
- Rest your hands. Try to only rest your hands or fingers lightly on the bar in front of you or at your sides.
- Stand tall. Step with an upright posture and a slight lean at the hips forward to keep your knees from locking out and your low back from overarching.
- Keep your entire foot on the step. And take even, moderately deep steps. Not short, quick hopping steps.
Challenge: Try increasing your time or number of steps, do intervals, or for a particular number of calories.
If you would like to schedule your complimentary Fitness Assessment or be matched up with the right nationally certified trainer to meet your needs, please contact our Fitness Manager at Travis.McRoberts@activewellness.com