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Family Fitness

Go Cardio Crazy

Like the other muscles in your body, your heart gets stronger and remains healthier if you exercise it. In this Month of Action from the America on the Move organization, take steps (excuse the pun) to add more effective aerobic  exercise – also known as cardio – to your daily dose of movement.

Active people are nearly 50% less likely to get heart disease as people who are inactive. The reason? Heart-pumping, muscle-strengthening aerobic work. Even a brisk 30-minute walk every day can make a big difference in reducing your risk of heart disease. Other potential benefits of cardio exercise include:
  • Blood pressure control
  • Lower LDL and higher HDL cholesterol levels
  • Improved stress management
  • Improved ability to lose weight or maintain weight loss
  • Better sleep quality
Cardio (technically “cardiovascular”) exercises are only effective when you move fast enough to raise your heart rate beyond your resting rate, approaching your maximum heart rate, but never reaching it. Most people train within an aerobic zone that is 40% to 85% of their maximum heart rate, depending on their fitness level. There are several formulas for determining your maximum heart rate, then calculating your workout zones. One of the easiest ones to use is available at

Ideally, build your aerobic capacity, or endurance, so you are training as close as possible to 85% of your maximum heart rate. But build slowly if you’re new to cardio, out of shape, overweight or older than 60. The cardio level you begin at – 40%, 50%, 65% – isn’t as important as getting started and improving.
Here are a few ideal aerobic exercises to get, or keep, your heart in shape:
  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Speed walking
  • Swimming
  • Interval training – alternating all-out effort with low-to-medium effort
  • High-incline treadmill work
  • Rowing machines
  • Stationary bikes
  • Kettle ball workouts and fast-paced strength training
Remember, your target heart rate is an individual as your fingerprints. So focus on exerting yourself to the point of breathing hard yet being able to speak as you work out. Then build from there. It doesn’t take long to improve your aerobic  endurance, so stick with it!

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