For many people, cardiovascular training can seem like a daunting task. With February being cardiac health month, now is the time to get your blood pumping. The general perception is that you have to spend a lot of time running long distances to reap the benefits of cardio exercise. In fact, there are plenty of ways to squeeze in an effective cardio workout – in as little as 20 minutes or less!
Types of Cardiovascular Training
Steady state training is a continuous, steady effort workout lasting about 30-90 minutes. This type of exercise involves a submaximal pace (roughly 70-80% of max heart rate), meaning you should be exercising at a challenging but manageable pace.
Interval training, on the other hand, involves alternating short periods of high intensity (2 minutes or less at 80-90% max heart rate) with periods of low intensity exercise or rest. High intensity periods should be difficult and make you feel breathless and ready for a break.
Benefits of Cardio Training
Aerobic training, regardless of the type, is a staple part of a healthy lifestyle. Workout fads and gimmicks will come and go, but cardiovascular training will always provide results.
Cardiovascular training can:
- Aid in the burning of fat
- Strengthen the muscles involved in respiration, to assist lung function.
- Increase the total number of red blood cells in the body, to enable greater oxygen facilitation throughout the body.
- Strengthen the heart muscle, which will improve resting heart rate and efficiency.
- Reduce stress and tension, and increase mental well-being.
- Increase circulation throughout all areas of the body.
Why You Should Try Interval Training
If you’re short on time, or if weight loss is a major goal, interval training can be particularly beneficial. You can burn the same number of calories as a long run or bike ride in a fraction of the time, as well as keep your metabolism boosted for over 24 hours after completing your exercise. With interval training, not only do you burn plenty of calories during your exercise, but you’ll keep burning extra calories long after! Shorter periods of exercise make you more likely to stick to your exercise program, and intense exercise also tends to be less boring. You can also perform interval training in a variety of different ways, including treadmill or outdoor running, biking, rowing, using the elliptical, body weight exercises, or resistance training. With a variety of options and programs to suit every skill and fitness level, interval training can be an enjoyable part of anyone’s exercise routine.
Tips to Get Started
- Start Light and Progress – With any exercise program, always start light and progress when you feel it is safe to do so. For example, start with 20 seconds of intense work, followed by 20 seconds of rest for 10 minutes. As you become more comfortable, increase the intensity and duration of the intense periods. Opt for longer rest periods (up to 3 minutes) if you’re new to cardio exercise.
- Mix it Up – Try something besides the treadmill! Mix it up between different cardio machines, bodyweight exercises and even resistance training.
- Listen To Your Body – Interval training is meant to be more intense than steady state training. Push yourself, but don’t overdo it! Take extra breaks when needed, finish early if you need to, and be sure to stay well hydrated!
Download the Horizon Lunch Break Workout circuit to get your workplace moving towards improved heart health!