Cardio workouts only work when you know how to make them part of your walk, jog, run or bike ride. Sustain routines incorporating only running, jogging, walking or bike riding do not build optimal health.

I live out in the country amongst hills. Runners and cyclists come out here to do their workouts. I observed that none of them carry any excess fat. In fact most of them are very slender without any noticeably bulging muscles on either their arms or their legs. Even their abs fail to show definition.

Think about marathon runners and racing cyclists. Now think about swimmers, gymnasts and sprinters. What do you notice about the difference in physique between the former and the latter groups?

Which group do you want to look like? Whose body shape do you want to emulate? Which group do you think of as being healthier?

Follow these three tips to optimize your mental and physical well being:

1. When you workout focus on your workout. Be 100% present with what you are doing. Avoid listening to music or even educational material. Use your mind to get the most out of your workout.

Breath into your muscles giving them all the oxygen they need to work full out for you. And pay attention to any sensations you observe now that your mind is on you and your many parts working to support you in the moment.

2. This may sound silly yet realize your body is you – not a separate thing from you. Most people talk about body parts like they belong to someone else. Instead of talking about not what your leg does talk about what you do with your leg.

See the difference? When you see your body as you, your physical reality, you treat it differently and I guarantee it will respond differently for you.

Love and appreciate your body and let it know how grateful you are for the way it responded during your exercise routine. That process will allow you tune into any muscle, tendon, ligament, etc., that may not be quite up to par. When you fail to notice little discomforts you often wind up with injuries.

3. Rather than walking, running, or biking for an hour or longer driving to keep your heartbeat range, break your routine into short period of steady activity alternating with brief spurts where you play full out, running, pedaling, race walking as fast and as hard as you can for 1-2 minutes.

You can also do your cardio using free weights so that you use more than just the usual muscles in your workout. In fact when you do the sprint-cardio workout or the weight bearing cardio you can cut down your exercise time to as little as twenty minutes – or even seven if you have the strength for the challenge of those routines.

The combo routines will get you stronger faster, building your lungs and heart in the process, than just the walk, run or biking. IT will also save you time.