When most people think of “cardio” they probably think of running. But for people who don’t like to run or cannot run, there’s some good news. Cardiovascular exercise includes any activity that strengthens your heart and improves the function of your cardiovascular system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise each week in order to help prevent cardiovascular disease. When you break it down, that amounts to 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week. Unless you really love to run, you’ll probably want to switch up exercises that you do in order to reach 150 minutes of cardio each week.
Additionally, cardio is not the only type of exercise that health experts recommend in order to receive optimal health benefits. The CDC also recommends that adults do muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).
What’s considered moderate to vigorous?
· Increased heart rate
· Increased breathing rate
· Increased sweating
· Muscle fatigue
These are all examples of what exercising at a moderate to vigorous level usually feels like. Some people also use perceived exertion and/or target heart rate ranges to determine if they are exercising at a moderate to vigorous level to receive the associated health benefits.
Alternatives to running
At the Gym
If you’re looking for some non-running alternatives while you’re at the gym, you might consider trying some of the other machines, such as the elliptical, stair stepper, and rowing machine. There are many ways you can switch it up, such as changing the intensity level or doing timed intervals.
If you’re looking for something outside, at home, or a little less traditional, you might enjoy hiking or biking. Ask a friend to join you or turn it into a family event. Many gyms and groups also do exercise in the park. Zumba, a Latin inspired dance fitness class, is in part so popular because of the social aspect of it. When you exercise with friends, it feels less like exercise and more like hanging out. Just make sure that you are focused on exercising and not talking the whole time.
No matter which exercise you choose, getting your blood pumping at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 150 minutes per week and also performing strength training exercises at least 2 days per week, can have a lasting, positive impact on your health. Adding some variety to your routine will not only decrease boredom and, therefore, increase the likelihood of you sticking with it, it will also diversify the specific muscle groups that you are working with. Trying different cardio routines can be a fun and exploratory experience, and the more fun you have, the more likely you will keep doing it.