Most movements can be considered cardio, even if you don’t realize you’re working out. Walking your dog, riding your bike, or chasing your kids can raise your heart rate. When exercises increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping, it’s an aerobic exercise or cardio workout.
Cardio often involves repetitive and rhythmic movements that use large muscle groups. Adults need at least two and a half hours of cardio each week to maintain a healthy fitness level. When you’re active, making the most of the opportunity can improve your health and make exercising more beneficial.
If you have any health conditions, take the time to talk to your doctor before implementing any new activity. With their okay, start slowly and don’t do more than you’re comfortable with. You should also begin slowly if you haven’t worked out in a while to prevent injury.
Once you start working out, it’ll help if you keep learning all you can. Many people don’t know what makes a good workout or how to improve it. With this knowledge, you’ll be on your way to reaching your fitness goals and living a healthy life.
The Benefits of Cardio Workouts
Cardio exercises are beneficial for many reasons. They increase your heart for a prolonged time, improve the functioning of your respiratory system, and expand your blood vessels.
Cardio exercise improves your body’s cardiovascular, respiratory, and circulatory systems. When the systems work correctly, it improves your overall well-being. It affects the rest of your body, allowing everything to work as it should.
When your respiratory system works harder, it makes you breathe deeply and quickly. Your expanding blood vessels carry more oxygen to muscles. Plus, your body releases endorphins as you exercise, which work as natural painkillers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 150 minutes of moderate to intense cardio each week can help maintain and lower weight. It also helps boost your mood and lowers your risk of heart disease. Some research even shows that those who regularly exercise live longer than others.
How to Increase Your Cardio Workouts
While you know cardio workouts are important to your fitness routine, you might not know how to make the most out of them. With all the benefits of cardio, you’ll want to ensure you’re doing it correctly. It’ll make it more effective, fun, and consistent.
1. Warmup and Cool Down
You might think a warmup only prolongs your exercise, but there’s much more to it. It increases your mobility, reduces your risk of injury, and prepares your body for working out. If you want to increase your workout, give yourself a chance by stretching and warming up.
It’s also essential to cool down at the end of your workout. Cooling down helps your body recover quicker as it progressively slows down instead of abruptly stopping.
2. Choose the Right Time
You’ll be more motivated to work out at specific times during the day. If you tend to skip cardio after doing the other parts of your workout routine, try doing it first. Getting it out of the way can ensure you get to your cardio routine before getting tired or wanting to finish.
Likewise, if you tend to skip your entire workout, change the time of day you do it. Choose a time when you’re motivated and enjoy working out, if possible. Increasing your cardio workout requires doing it when you’re going to try your hardest.
3. Monitor Your Heart Rate During Your Cardio Workout
Monitoring your heart rate allows you to track when you’re doing a good workout routine. Knowing how hard you’re working helps you increase the intensity if necessary. It also promotes a good rhythm throughout the exercise.
Without a heart rate monitor, you’ll have no idea how beneficial your workout is. You might be going through the motions without ever getting your blood pumping.
Monitoring allows you to see the changes and adjust right away. You can see how hard you should be working, getting a good feel for a beneficial workout. Plus, you’ll know if you’re working too hard and need a break.
4. Plan and Track Your Workouts
Have a plan for what you’ll do during your workout before you begin. Don’t get on a treadmill or start walking around a track without knowing what’s coming next. When you have a plan, it promotes consistency and routine.
Becoming consistent with your workouts is the best way to see results. You can’t exercise occasionally and expect to see an improvement in your health and appearance.
To further improve consistency and routine, keep track of your work. Track how far you ran or walked and which tempo you used in the process.
When you document your progress, it helps you figure out what does and doesn’t work. It also aids with planning future workouts, adjusting your routine, and staying motivated.
Five Cardio Exercises to Try
Many of the things you do throughout the day can count as cardio. However, making it a regular part of your cardio workout can improve the effect. These exercises are beneficial to get your heart pumping during your routine. You can do these exercises at home without equipment, so there’s no excuse not to get started.
1. Arm Circles
You can do arm circles while standing or sitting, making them ideal when you don’t have much space. If you can’t get up from your chair but want to get some movement in, arm circles are the way to go.
- Put your arms out to your sides.
- Rotate your arms in a circular motion, starting clockwise.
- Switch directions and rotate counterclockwise.
While it seems like this exercise doesn’t require much movement, it works out many muscles in your upper body. It’s similar to the motion involved in a butterfly or backstroke movement while swimming. If you have limited mobility, you can do smaller circles.
2. Squat Jump Exercises
This exercise is an intermediate exercise that increases the intensity of your workout. It gets your body moving and heart pumping, making it the perfect cardio workout. When you do a squat jump, it works your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
- Start by standing with your arms at your sides and feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees until you’re in a squatting position.
- Jump in the air and straighten your body by extending your hips.
- Land, and repeat.
You can adjust the intensity of this exercise by changing your arm movements. Try a few motions until you find the one you enjoy most. Make sure it targets the area you want to work out.
3. Lateral Shuffles
This exercise involves a shuffling motion, requiring you to move your body side-to-side. It will likely remind you of a move in sports like tennis, soccer, basketball, and football. The lateral shuffle boosts your metabolism, increases blood flow, and burns calories.
- Move to the edge of the room.
- Squat slightly with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Bring both hands in front of your chest, keeping your palms together.
- Move your body to the right by shuffling your feet.
- Bring your heels together before beginning the next shuffle.
- Shuffle four times to the right, reverse, and do it again to the left.
- Keep your core engaged and chest lifted.
- Try increasing your speed or squatting lower to intensify the workout.
4. Standing Trunk Rotation
This exercise works your abdominal muscles to improve core strength, stability, flexibility, and mobility. It also strengthens the cardiovascular system.
- Start with your feet hip-width apart, elbows bent, and hands together at the midline of your body.
- Engage your abdominal muscles and exhale as you rotate your body without arching your lower back.
- Only move the top of your body, ensuring your head, chest, and torso move simultaneously.
- Hold your body in that position for a few seconds before rotating in the opposite direction.
- Increase the intensity by holding a heavy weight or extending your arms to shoulder height.
5. Supine Snow Angel
This exercise requires lying down, so you’ll need some extra space to do it correctly. It targets your abdominal muscles, chest, and shoulders.
- Start by lying on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground.
- Place your lower back on the floor by tucking your pelvis.
- Raise your arms from the shoulders and bend your elbows so that your hands are toward your ears.
- Then, move your bands toward your head and bring them together.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for as long as you want.
Other Cardio Workouts to Consider
Aside from exercise routines, you can incorporate cardio workouts into your daily life. Since finding ways to enjoy fitness is essential, consider some of these exercises:
- running or jogging
- power walking
- jump rope
- playing sports
- jumping on a trampoline
Final Thoughts on How to Increase Your Cardio Workouts (and 5 Exercises to Try)
Cardio workouts and exercising are essential to maintaining a healthy body. Fitness doesn’t have to be a chore because there are plenty of fun ways to incorporate it. Use these tips to make the most of your cardio workouts. If you are unsure about your fitness level, check with your family doctor before you start.
Once you try these exercises and tips, you can look for other cardio workouts to try. You might not like some of the routines, and that’s okay. You’re sure to find some you enjoy, and you can even do it with people you enjoy spending time with.