Tag: cardiovascular fitness

Cardiovascular Training/Walk, Run or Jog

There is probably no better exercise for restoration of the body and mind than a good outside walk, run or jog. Being outside in the great outdoors with your heart pumping extra oxygenated blood throughout your body does wonderful things for physical and mental healing. It matters not if you are an avid runner, or just one who likes to go for brisk walks, the benefit is all the same. Cardiovascular training not only aids in lowering your risk for heart disease, it also reduces stress levels, increases energy, and improves sleep and digestion. It is a well established fact that regular cardiovascular training improves muscular function and strength and improvement in the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen.  As one’s ability to transport and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be performed with less fatigue than when your cardiovascular health is not optimal.

You do not need to be a marathon runner or an elite athlete to derive significant benefits from cardiovascular activity. You do not have to already be in “shape to begin.  Know that you should always consult your physician before starting any type of exercise.

Clearly, most people can derive significant benefits from integrating a half hour of moderate activity into their day. If you know you simply cannot or will not set aside a half hour of activity on a given day, then try to work more activities into the day by taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or try walking rather than driving a short distance to the store. Try to work several shorter periods of activity, such as 10 minutes, into your schedule. The most important thing is to get started.

Whether you walk, run or jog, cardiovascular training can offer numerous health benefits to people of all ages and fitness levels. It may also help prevent certain diseases and even prolong your life. Best of all, cardiovascular exercise is free, and quite easy to fit into your daily routine. All you need to start  is a good pair of shoes for the exercise you are going to do.

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise:

Cardio helps you burn calories.

Burning calories can help you maintain or lose weight. Your actual calorie burn will depend on several factors, including:

  • your speed
  • distance covered
  • terrain (you’ll burn more calories walking uphill than you’ll burn on a flat surface)
  • your weight
Cardio strengthens the heart.

Walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce your risk for coronary heart disease. And your risk may reduce even more when you increase the duration or distance you walk per day.

Cardio can help to lower your blood sugar.

It is well established that by taking a short walk after eating, you can lower your blood sugar.  Studies have found that taking a 15-minute walk three times a day (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner) improved blood sugar levels more than taking a 45-minute walk at another point during the day. Consider making a post-meal walk a regular part of your routine. It can also help you fit exercise in throughout the day.

Note: If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle, give yourself a half hour after eating before beginning any vigorous exercise.

Cardio can ease joint pain.

Walking can help protect the joints, including your knees and hips. That’s because it helps lubricate and strengthen the muscles that support the joints. Walking may also provide benefits for people living with arthritis, such as reducing pain. And walking 5 to 6 miles a week may also help prevent arthritis.

Cardio helps to improve your mood.

Walking can help your mental health. Studies show it can help reduce anxiety, depression, and a negative mood. It can also boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of social withdrawal. To experience these benefits, aim for 30 minutes of brisk walking or other moderate intensity exercise three days a week. You can also break it up into three 10-minute walks.

Walking can clear your head and help you think creatively, especially when walking outdoors. It is a most excellent way to open up a free flow of ideas and is a simple way to increase creativity and get physical activity at the same time.

What if the inclement weather does not permit outside cardiovascular exercise?

If weather keeps you from outside exercise, then you might consider buying a treadmill for home use. There are many on the market and are a great investment for your health and wellbeing. Using one will help you lose weight and burn fat, and you can get started at almost any level of fitness. Benefits of having a treadmill at home include:

  1. Cheaper than a gym membership for a year but will last longer.
  2. Available all year round 24/7 – whenever you have a spare 5 or 10 minutes.
  3. You’ll burn extra calories to help boost your weight loss.
  4. No need to get changed into gym wear. Just pop on your trainers, grab a bottle of water and go!
  5. Doesn’t matter what the weatherman says, you can walk regardless.
  6. Brilliant for de-stressing after work or when the kids are finally in bed.
  7. It is a great way to wake you up in the morning.
  8. You can listen to songs you love that no one else likes while you’re walking on the treadmill. Even your guilty pleasure songs that you don’t admit to anyone you like!
  9. You could listen to an audible book while burning some calories.
  10. You could even set up your laptop and catch up on an episode of your favourite TV program while you’re walking.
  11. Only got 3 minutes spare? You can walk on the treadmill.
  12. Many of them fold up so loads of space isn’t needed.
  13. You can use the incline on your treadmill to make the walk a little harder which will make you burn even more calories.
  14. It will help to tone up your bottom – walking uphill is great for the glutes
  15. Looking for some peace and quiet? Get on the treadmill
  16. Need to work through a problem? Work it out while you’re working out!

If you are considering the purchase of your first treadmill, you do not need to feel the need to break your bank with the most expensive model you can find. Yet, you also do not want to choose one that is cheaply made, they will not last any longer than their warranty, which is usually not that long. Our good friends at ConsumersAdvocate have an excellent, in depth review of treadmills you can read by clicking the link provided. This is a must read before making your purchase. In their article, they discuss price ranges, features, warranty and customer service for several good treadmills you can find at your local sporting goods outlet. Do yourself a favor and be armed with solid information before putting down your hard earned cash and this investment into your health and well being.

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Invest In Yourself, Exercise!

I cannot fathom the reasoning that goes into ones thought process when they state they do not do healthy. I have heard this enough over the years I actually wrote an article about it which I titled,  I Don’t Do Healthy and Other Dumb Quotes.

Honestly, I have a difficult time getting past such an absurd mindset. Yet I know it is not uncommon. The mind set delves further into the absurd when it is coming from who is obese and suffering from many self inflicted ailments that require constant medical attention. Not that I have, or will ask this, but sometimes it makes me wonder if they are really this dumb, or just want me to believe they are. After all,  who are they hurting with their obstinence?

Who they are hurting might just be you if you are the one who will be picking up all the shattered and broken pieces of their lives one day.

 Is it really too much effort to take care of yourself before your body decides to fight back with ailments and or disease?

It does not take rocket science to know and fully understand that exercise is good for our bodies. Even if you suffer from DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) for your first few days of an exercise regimen, your body is liking that it is being worked as it was meant to be. Too many lay about licking their wounds, wanting a doctor to just prescribe them something to stop the sickness, the aches and pains, and the early aging. Yet, you have the power within yourself to put a stop to most of this without ever stepping foot in a doctors office.

It is proven science that as we age, exercise will help mitigate the frailty and diseases that come from a sedentary lifestyle. The more fit your body, the longer you will live a quality life. If you want to live a life of laying about the house eating cookies and cakes while binge watching your favorite program on the television, then you will likely die younger than you need to, while being a miserable individual in your final years on earth. It really is as simple a concept as this, and no one can scientifically argue against the benefits of physical exercise.

Invest in yourself!

Make an inexpensive investment into your future that will pay big dividends for quality of life as you age. Begin investing when you are young, and before you get too far out of shape. Even if you are obese and out of shape, get your butt up off the couch and move it with a purpose. Once you begin getting into better shape, you will live a more active life that will make you feel and look younger. Exercise is going to make daily life functions much easier and simpler. There will not have to be any thinking about how hard it will be to climb the steps in your home. You will have an easier time carrying in your groceries. Best of all, you will be able to live a fuller life where you can actually enjoy doing outside activities with your grandchildren. And you will be able to do these things without gasping for air every few minutes or having to constantly sit down to rest.  By exercising at enough aerobic intensity to get your heart rate elevated, by strength training and stretching, you are going to improve your functional fitness, which is going to improve your life for you and your loved ones. You will no longer rain on your kids, or grandchildren’s parades anymore by sitting out every activity they might want you to be involved with them in.

Immediate payoff

Good exercise can and will give you a boost in energy. If you are lethargic in the afternoons, you can easily turn this around with a brisk walk and simple stretching. This will aid in getting your more blood pumping to your brain. At night, you will find that sleep will improve and come easier than it did when you were fat and out of shape. Your body will have true fatigue and your stress levels will have fallen as a result of a good bout of vigorous exercise. This is good since as we age, our periods of deep sleep will often shorten, which translates into less restful sleep.

Being as physical exercise essentially resets the brain, you will find that you have become a calmer individual than you might have been before. Exercise reduces our stress levels immensely. It helps to keep our blood pressure lower during stressful situations. If you are a couch potato, your blood pressure will rise quicker and higher than a normal weight, fit individual. This benefit is one of great quality as it allows you to remain better focused on the difficult tasks life often hands to us.

Exercise helps with chronic pain and helps relieve menopausal hot flashes. After a few short weeks with an exercise regimen you notice that your self esteem has improved as you achieve your new fitness goals, and of course, as you begin to feel healthier. you will find that an active life style will work wonders with your mood as it is known to release endorphins, or the feel good brain chemicals in your brain. Have you ever heard of runners high? I can tell you it is absolutely real, and it damn sure feels good.

Getting your heart healthy.

Any type of exercise is going to be better for your heart health than sitting on your couch all day doing nothing of substance. By getting your body moving with some intensity, you will strengthen your heart, which is absolutely going to make you feel better. Your heart will beat with less effort and your arterial walls will be more supple, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease. Moderate exercise that burns 1200 to 1600 calories per week will improve your cholesterol profile by raising your HDL (good cholesterol) and preventing the oxidation of your LDL (bad cholesterol) which if left unchecked, will cause your LDL to stick to the walls of your arteries.

This is a topic I love! The American Heart Association has come to the conclusion that lifting weights is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Strength training lowers your cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, and improves your overall cardiovascular fitness. Your glucose metabolism becomes more efficient, which lowers your risk of diabetes and your ratio of muscle to fat will be increased which means your metabolism will be more efficient at burning off body fat. The importance of having a low bod fat to lean muscle percentage is the fact lean muscle burns more calories than your body fat ever will, and it does this even when you are sitting down resting. When people ask me if I do much cardio, I always tell them that weight training done right, is cardio.

Greater lung capacity.

After the age of 25, there is a 1% decline in lung capacity that occurs every year unless you do something about it with aerobic activity. This lung capacity, known as your VO-2, will typically increase by 6 to 20% with aerobic conditioning, and can go as high as a 50% increase. When you can breath better, you live better. Only a fool would argue this. As your lung capacity improves, oxygen enters your lungs more efficiently and the carbon dioxide waste, leaves more rapidly. By increasing your lung volume, you are increasing the quality of your life. You will be able to function without getting winded so easily.

Benefits, head to toes.

You do not need any expensive gym memberships or high tech fitness gadgets to get yourself into good physical condition. All you need is your doctors clearance and a will to get yourself active. By simply walking 30 minutes per day, you will begin reaping many benefits to your body and soul.  From arthritis to weight gain, good vigorous exercise will help mitigate many medical issues in your life. The investment in a pair of sneakers and a comfortable outfit to exercise in is far cheaper than unnecessary medical bills brought about by an unhealthy diet and sedentary life. Strong muscles in your thighs will help reduce the risk of arthritis in your knees. Women can reduce their risk of diabetes by half.

It is a well established fact that exercise boosts your body’s immune system function. And you do not have to work out every day to enjoy the many health benefits. I have read of a study where it was found that people who exercised moderately for 30 minutes, only 6 times per month outlived those with a sedentary lifestyle by a 43% margin. When it comes to quality of life and longevity, staying physically fit is the best investment you can make in yourself.

Invest into your own future wisely. You will have no regrets.

12 Week Beginners Walking Program

Before you begin, let’s find out how fit you are.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you will know that I love to get out and walk, or hike on wooded trails. Walking is one of the best restorative exercises that almost everyone can do. Best of all, walking does not require any expensive gym memberships or any fancy equipment, including fitness trackers. Walking is something you have done all of your life with the exception of maybe fitness walking, so there is not a whole lot for you to learn in order to get the most benefit out of this beneficial, cheap and easy exercise.

First things first, if you are obviously out of shape and specifically, if you have any health problems, please get clearance from your physician before beginning any exercise program.

If you are physically cleared, you are going to need to know exactly where you stand in regards to being physically fit. This is a must, please do not overlook this step. You are going to need to know your recovery heart rate, or how fast your heart rate returns to it’s normal rate after you engage in vigorous exercise. This is going to let you know how efficient your heart operates. This test is easy to perform and does not require you to go out and buy any kind of expensive fitness tracker. Before you go out and spend a $100 US or more on a fitness tracker, you might want to see if you are even going to stick with a program first, and then buy one at a later date. All you need for this initial test is someone to keep time for you, however, you can do it for yourself too.

Next, dress out in comfortable clothing with a good fitting pair of shoes and find either a stair or something sturdy like a stool which you can step onto and off of for a period of 3 minutes.  Begin by stepping onto the step or stool first with your right foot, then up with your left foot. Step down with your right foot, then with your left, and repeat this with an even pace for 3 minutes. Once you have completed your 3 minutes, rest for 30 seconds before taking your pulse rate.

How to take your pulse: Find your heartbeat by placing your index and middle fingers on either your carotid artery (on your neck in one of the grooves along side our windpipe) or your radial artery (on your wrist near your thumb). Using a watch, count the number of beats in a 15 second period. Then multiply this number by four to determine your heart rate per minute.

Compare your pulse rate with the below figures:


Age 30 – 39  Very Fit  <78  Fit 78-99  Avg. 100-109  Unfit  >109

Age 40-49    Very Fit  <80  Fit 80-100  Avg. 101-112 Unfit >112

Age 50-59    Very Fit  <86  Fit 86-105  Avg. 106-115 Unfit >115

Age 60-69   Very Fit  <90  Fit 90-108   Avg. 109-118 Unfit >118


Age 30-39   Very Fit  <84  Fit 84-105  Avg. 106-122 Unfit >122

Age 40-49   Very Fit  <88  Fit 88-108  Avg. 109-118 Unfit >118

Age 50-59   Very Fit  <92  Fit 92-113  Avg. 114-123 Unfit >123

Age 60-69   Very Fit  <95  Fit 95-117  Avg. 118-127 Unfit >127

This walking program is geared towards helping the unfit and the person of average fitness towards gaining a life of physical fitness. If you have any history, symptoms, or major risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, diabetes, or severe obesity, do not take this test or begin any exercise program without your doctors approval!

How vigorous is your workout?

The best way for you to gauge the intensity of your workout is to check your heart rate.Your target heart rate is the pulse you are aiming for when you work out. The safe but effective range is between 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate – the rate you should never exceed. To calculate your maximum rate, subtract your age from 220. If you are 45 years old, your maximum rate is 175 (220-45=175) beats per minute. Your target range is 88 to 149 beats per minute. (.50 or .85 x 175) . The American Heart Association suggests you aim for the following target heart rates:

Age    Target Heart Rate / Maximum Heart Rate

30      95 to 142 bpm              190 bpm

35      93 to 138 bpm             185 bpm

40      90 to 135 bpm             180 bpm

45      85 to 131 bpm             175 bpm

50      85 to 127 bpm             170 bpm

55      83 to 123 bpm             165 bpm

60     80 to 120 bpm              160 bpm

65     78 to 116 bpm              155 bpm

70     75 to 113 bpm              150 bpm

12 Week Walking Program

Week 1

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up with 5 minutes slow walking
  • Walk 10 minutes at 50 to 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down with 5 minutes slow walking

Week 2

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up, 5 minutes
  • 15 minutes at 50 to 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 3

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up, 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 50 to 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 4

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up, 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 60% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 5

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 60 to 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 6

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 20 minutes at 60 to 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 7

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 25 minutes at 60 to 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 8

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 25 minutes at 70% maximum hear rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 9

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 30 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 10

  • 5 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 35 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down 5 minutes

Week 11

  • 3 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 35 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down 5 minutes
  • 2 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 30 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate, including 5 minutes of hills or stairs
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Week 12

  • 3 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 35 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate
  • Cool down, 5 minutes
  • 2 times per week
  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • 30 minutes at 70% maximum heart rate, including 10 minutes of hills or stairs
  • Cool down, 5 minutes

Watch your form!

You already know how to walk, it’s a no brainer to know that one foot goes in front of the next. But, how is your posture when you are out walking? Many people will slump over when they walk which can end up giving them problems with muscle strains, pains in the neck, lower back and hips. As you walk, hold your chest up and tuck in your gut which is helping to support your back. Every few minutes, evaluate your posture as you are walking and straighten up as needed.

Have fun, find a beautiful place to walk and get yourself fit!