Cardiovascular Exercise

Whether your goal is to lose weight, relieve stress, or just be healthier, cardiovascular exercises are undoubtedly the most important kind of exercise. These exercises are called cardiovascular because they exercise the heart and lungs, boosting oxygen transportation and consumption. This article will explore the many different kinds of cardiovascular exercises, both indoor and outdoor.

Indoor Cardio

Ideally we’d spend more time outside, particularly when exercising, but unfortunately we cannot always get outside. Luckily, then, there are many indoor options for cardiovascular exercises, many different machines which simulate activities you might find yourself doing outside where you have room to move around.

Elliptical Trainer: These are machines which simulate jogging or running by letting your knees bend and legs move back and forth without actually bringing your feet off the ground. Many people must use the elliptical trainer instead of jogging because the impact of running can cause problems for their knees. Since you never have to take your feet of the machine, there is no impact on your knees and you can experience a very comfortable, low impact running experience.

Exercise Bike: Just like the elliptical trainer, exercise bikes are great for people who cannot put too much stress on their legs. Most exercise bikes have adjustable resistance, so you can get a pretty strenuous workout while you’re sitting in one spot watching TV.

Rowing Machines: These machines are often overlooked but they provide a tremendous way to improve your cardiovascular strengthen as well as strengthen the muscles in your arms, legs, chest and abs. These machines simulate the movements involved in a rowing a boat, which is something many of us have no way of actually doing. If you’re doing cardiovascular exercise to lose weight, then the rowing machine should be of particular interest to you because it not only burns a lot of calories but the abdominal aspect of it will help you lose belly fat and tone your stomach simultaneously.

Stair Climbing: There are machines that stimulate climbing stairs, but if we’re talking about indoor activities, climbing real stairs also applies. The great thing about climbing stairs is how easily it can be incorporated into your daily routine. Many of us take countless elevator rides every single day, you can imagine how opting for the stairs can really add up to some significant calorie burning over the course of an entire day, week, or month. You don’t need to always take the stairs, but the more times you can fit a little bit of cardiovascular exercise into your day the better off you are.

This is probably the most important tip to cardiovascular exercise; we are surrounded by conveniences and luxuries that allow us to exercise less than we’d otherwise have to. By refusing some of these modern conveniences you can burn a lot of calories without actually having to take a chunk of time out of your day to exercise. This could mean getting off the bus a few stops early, taking the stairs, skipping the moving sidewalks at the airport, walking on the escalators, or hand-delivering a letter.

Outdoor Cardio

Swimming: We’ll start with swimming because this is undoubtedly the most well-rounded and effective cardio exercise. This could also qualify as an indoor activity, though it is often much more invigorating to swim out on a lake or ocean. Swimming for just twenty minutes a day can burn up to five hundred calories, and it exercises all kinds of muscles that you don’t normally use. Many people like to swim in the morning because it’s a great way to get some exercise in before you’re worn out from the day, and it really wakes you up and gets you focused on the day ahead.

Walking: It was already mentioned how getting off the bus a few stops early can be a good way to incorporate a little exercise. Walking is actually a deceptively good exercise, many people think you need to be running to be exercising but going for a brisk walk can burn significant calories. Therefore if you don’t have recourse to incorporate walking into your normal routine you should book off some time to go for a brisk walk through a park.  Either way, walking gives you that little bit of exercise that you need every day to maintain your cardiovascular health. Walking also provides a really valuable time to get away from the rigors of your day and have some time to yourself to think things over, or it could be a time to have a long conversation with a friend or family member.

Other obvious types of outdoor cardio involve running and cycling, though the same principles basically apply to these as to the indoor versions. For cycling it is important to keep your back straight and not to overly strain your legs, you may want to confirm with a fitness or cycling expert that you have your bike adjusted properly. Running is the classic cardio exercise, and doesn’t require much explanation except to note that running on hard surfaces such as concrete can be tough on the knees; running on grass has the benefit of being softer. You could also try running on sand, this provides a very challenging run and is relatively soft on the knees. One last thing about running is that you should avoid high traffic areas. Breathing in car exhaust as you’re running should definitely be avoided if possible as this can defeat the purpose of a nice outdoor run.

While cardiovascular exercises are vital to the maintenance of good health remember that weight training is also essential to physical fitness.  Opt for three cardio sessions a week and another two weight training days if possible.  If you’re pressed for time though you can always try to fit in a little cardio and weight training in the same session—just be sure not to overdo it.

Dale Miller is a health, sports, fitness and nutrition enthusiast.  He operates writes a blog at

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