When it comes to its heart-healthy, fat-burning benefits, it’s hard to beat cardiovascular exercise. Sharrell Brown, M.S., ACSM-HFS, an exercise physiologist at Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center, put together three customizable cardio sessions you can try depending on how much time you have.
The American College of Sports Medicine’s exercise guidelines for adults recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio five to seven days per week or 20 to 60 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio three days per week. If you want to lose weight, you need to exercise more than these guidelines suggest (30 to 60 minutes of cardio per day), as well as incorporate proper nutrition and strength training, says Brown. Whatever your goals are, these workouts can help you meet them.
Have an hour?
Try this steady walking/running routine in a park or on the treadmill. The speed for walkers should be at least 3.0 mph and at the highest, 4.5 mph (depending on your leg length). Keep the speed consistent. If you are on a treadmill, an incline of 2 percent would simulate outdoor terrain. For runners, the speed should be at least 4.5, depending on leg length and aerobic comfort. Try to sustain this speed for at least 30 minutes and work up to one hour.
Have 30 minutes?
Try this quick running, walking or jump rope routine, with burst of higher intensity. When doing a quick session, participants should start at a moderate pace (3.8 mph if walking, 4.5 mph if jogging/running, 85-105 rpm if on elliptical, for example). After a three-minute warm-up, increase your speed and your incline. If you are jumping rope, add a burst of intensity every two minutes with burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, bicycle crunches or walking lunges. Continue for 15 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how much time you have.
“There are many variations of interval training, which can be done with any exercise,” she says. “One example is HIIT (high intensity interval training).” Try one of the following regimens, which can be done indoors, outdoors or on an elliptical:
Tabata method: Warm up for three to five minutes. Then spend 20 seconds at a very high intensity (increase your speed or incline), then recover at a slower pace for 10 seconds. Continue for eight cycles, then rest for three to five minutes and start again.
Gibala method: Warm up for three to five minutes. Then exercise for 60 seconds at a high intensity, followed by 75 seconds of rest. Repeat for eight to 12 cycles.
For best results, mix and match these cardio workouts. “The body needs variety,” says Brown. “If we continue to do the same thing every day, the body adapts to it. Changing your exercise program periodically keeps the body adapting to different challenges and spurring it to keep changing in your favor.”
Check out more ways to get moving.