The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic training 5 times a week, or high-intensity cardio 3 times a week for optimal health. Cardio training benefits us by reducing the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer and strengthening the heart and lungs. It also reduces stress, gives us more energy and helps us sleep better. Lastly, it can help us with our weight loss goals. It's obvious that it is something with which everyone should be engaged.
The forms of cardio exercise available to us are as numerous as the benefits we derive from performing the exercise. The primary equipment necessary is generally a good pair of walking or running shoes and some comfortable workout clothing. Once you have these the next step is to choose which form of exercise you would most enjoy.
Walking is the most convenient and generally widely recommended exercise. It involves no costs, except those sustained for shoes and clothing (you were going to spend the money on that anyway), it can be done anywhere, at anytime of the day. About 15 minutes of walking burns 100 calories, so it's definitely a viable means to aid in weight loss efforts. The key here, as with all forms of cardio, is to get your heart rate up. You should be walking at a pace that causes you to expend effort, to sweat a little, but you do not need to walk so fast that you feel you will keel over.
If you are more ambitious, you can try running for your workout. It's vitally important to have a good pair of shoes when running. You should not wear a pair of shoes designed for basketball players or baseball players because this can cause havoc on the feet and knees over a period of time. Even the wrong pair of running shoes can these problems. With this in mind, when you go to buy a pair of shoes, ask the salesperson for assistance and walk around the store with the shoes on. Make sure your toes are not squeezed and that there is adequate arch support. After you have taken care of these factors, you can begin with your workouts. If you are just starting out and find that running continuously is too strenuous, alternate walking and running. If you are working out 3 times a week, the first week try running for a minute and walking for a minute. As time goes on you can increase the time you are running, until you are running for 30 minutes at a time.
Swimming is a fantastic workout. It's a total body workout and it's low impact. This is the recommended exercise for people who suffer from arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints of the body, causing sufferers great pain. High impact aerobics can aggravate that pain. Swimming burns an average of 400 calories per hours (more or less depending on weight and stroke used), so in addition to cardiovascular condition, it's also a great tool to use in any weight loss program.
Elliptical trainers are also very popular. They give a combination of upper and lower body workout. It is said that the trainer is a combination of running and riding a bike. There are different types of workouts that can be done as well. Cardio, Manual, Interval Training. This variety helps so you will not get bored with the same old routine. This low impact exercise can easily be done 5 times a week, with great results.
Like to dance? Have no fear. Zumba is another aerobic workout, where you can dance your way to fitness. You can join a gym and enroll in the classes, or buy a home DVD. DVDs are great in that they have progressive workouts, you can do it in the comfort of your home and you just pay one time for the DVD.
Every workout should begin and end with a good stretch. At the beginning of a workout it's important to prepare the for the work that is about to be done. It's equally important to end the exercise in the same way. Stretching helps keep muscles, tendons and ligaments pliable so injury can be avoided.