If you are new to doing cardio workouts or even aerobic exercise, you might not know where to begin. Or maybe you're more of a fan of strength training. When you think about it, the term “cardio” really entails a long list of things, including biking, running, swimming, dancing, playing sports, doing a HIIT workout--the list is endless!
So what is the best place to start? Well, if you have ever thought about beginning a cardio routine but are not sure where to begin, this beginner’s guide to cardio might be the article you need to read!
Why Are Cardio Workouts Important?
The benefits of cardio exercises have been written about in countless studies. Cardio workouts carry several health benefits, including:
- Supporting cardiac health
- Maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol
- Maintaining a normal blood pressure
- Encouraging proper weight loss
- Supporting healthy metabolic functioning
- Supporting mental health and functioning
- Easing feelings of stress and tension
- Relaxing your mood
- Increasing metabolism
What Are the Risks of Cardio Workouts?
As many benefits as cardio workouts have, it is important not to forget the risks that can be involved as well. These risks could come from pushing yourself too hard or too often or from a medical condition that prevents you from doing this type of workout. For example, if you have any sort of joint pain, do not push yourself. Find exercises that work for you that do not cause pain. If running on a treadmill hurts your knees, but an elliptical does not, do not force your body to endure the treadmill. Do the elliptical instead! Go swimming! Pick something that leaves you feeling good post-workout rather than hurt.
Additionally, low-impact cardio and moderate-intensity cardio workouts are recommended for three to six hours a week, which balances out 30-60 minutes every day. It is not about being perfect or being an athlete in your workouts unless, of course, that is your goal. Instead, it is about balance and your overall health. Pushing yourself past the point of 10-12 hours weekly can be detrimental to your body and should be avoided.
Your body needs and appreciates times of rest. On your days off, you can engage in simple activities such as yoga, stretching, or walking, all of which are giving your body a break from the cardio while at the same time relaxing the muscles and engaging in some mindfulness techniques.
Cheating your body from any rest days can result in exhaustion, injuries, and dehydration. Additionally, you need that extra rest time to accurately target the heart rate zone and maintain muscular endurance. Your heart muscle needs to be repaired.
What Do I Need to Do Pre- and Post-Cardio Workout?
There are a few steps you can take before and after cardio to maximize your results and maintain balance.
Drink Plenty of Water Before and After
It is extremely important to go into a workout already hydrated, but do not guzzle a ton of water directly before your workout. If you do this, you will likely feel it sloshing around in your stomach while you are trying to bike, jump rope, or whatever you chose to engage in that day. This could also lead to you throwing up whatever water you drank, which could contribute to you feeling extra dehydrated. Instead, you want to begin your exercise already hydrated by being consistent about drinking water each day.
In addition, make sure to replenish your body with fluids post-workout. This is especially important if your workout is high intensity or in a hot and humid environment and you lose a lot of fluid through sweat. While water is the best go-to drink, other sports drinks with electrolytes may have additional benefits to rehydrate you quickly.
Eat a Small Meal or Snack Pre and Post-Workout
While you might benefit from this before working out, some people do better waking up and working out on an empty stomach instead. Everyone’s bodies are different, and you might have to experiment to see what works best for you.
Just as with hydration, you do not want to eat a lot of food directly before exercise. If you find that your body works the best with some food inside of you before working out, give yourself 1-3 hours between eating and starting the workout.
Eating a variety of healthy carbs, proteins, and fats can be beneficial pre-workout, depending upon the type of exercise you are engaging in. For a high cardio workout, healthy carbs and protein sources, such as a banana with peanut butter or protein bar, might be perfect for fueling your body for its workout. Here’s information on what to eat before a workout.
Just as good nutrition is important before exercise, supplying your body with healthy nutrition post-workout is also important. Fuel your body with a nutrient-packed protein shake, eggs with vegetables, or maybe a whole grain peanut butter sandwich.
Engage in Dynamic Stretches Pre-Workout, and Static Stretches Post-Workout
Dynamic stretching involves an active motion in which the body moves during the stretch. For example, a lung with a twist would be beneficial before beginning a run, or arm swings might be beneficial before beginning a HIIT upper body workout. Taking time to stretch will give the body and muscles time to warm up and prepare for the exercise and reduce the chances of developing injuries during the workout due to cold and stiff muscles.
Static stretching is a form of stretching recommended post-workout to cool down the body and muscles. This type of stretching involves movements held for a certain amount of time and does not involve physical movement during the stretch. Some examples could include the seated butterfly stretch or the quadriceps stretch.
What Are Some Cardio Workouts I Could Do?
Try not to get stuck in a rut when you think about the type of cardio that excites you. It is easy to let yourself become limited and only think of running when you consider cardio options, but the possibilities are endless. Think about the things you enjoy doing- do you like playing sports like soccer or basketball? Do you enjoy dancing? Biking? HIIT?
It’s important to choose something--or several things--you enjoy doing because otherwise, you will not find the motivation to stick to it. Below is a list of possibilities for cardio workouts, but remember that the list does not end here. These are just some options to get your mind working so that you can choose your favorite workouts to stick to an exercise routine and enjoy the things you do.
- Running and jogging
- Stair stepper
- Rowing machine
- Jumping rope
- High-intensity interval training
Ski-Row Air and Ski-Row Air + PWR
For your cardio workouts, have you ever considered the Ski-Row Air or the Ski-Row Air + PWR? These machines are commercial-grade devices with dual rowers and ski trainers. Whether you want to row, ski, or do a combination of both, these machines will fit those needs.
The accessories include Bluetooth, heart rate connectivity, adjustable foot straps, seat-slider beams, and gas-assist cylinders. These features allow you to track your progress and listen to your favorite music via Bluetooth! The front-mounted transport wheels also allow for easy maneuvering, transport, and storage. At EnergyFit, we truly believe you will love these products. Go ahead and give them a try!
Summing It Up
If you are new to working out, we hope this article has helped you better understand the different cardio options you have. It does not always have to be the same laps in the pool, or the same 100 floors climbed on the stair stepper. You might find that your best cardio routine is fulfilled when you engage in running one day, dancing the next, rowing the day after that, and even a HIIT workout following that.
Whatever your workout entails, the benefits of cardio training are endless, including supporting cardiac health, high calorie burn, maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels, supporting metabolic functioning and mental health, and encouraging proper weight loss.
Be careful to fuel your body with the proper nutrients and fluids before and after your workouts, and make sure not to skip on the stretches. Remember to allow yourself times of rest to better give your all when it comes time for your cardio exercises. These workouts can be fun! With this simple guide, refer back to it for help, and do not let the cardio overwhelm you! You are capable of more than you know.