Kick It Up With Cardio Exercise
Before you jump on that Stairmaster or start pounding the pavement, make sure you have a cardio exercise plan that will give you the most bang for your muscle burn.
Whether it's pounding the pavement, logging miles on the bike,
or climbing those stairs that seem to go nowhere, it's all about cardio
exercise. But other than a sweaty t-shirt, what do you have to show for your
workout? A slimmer stomach? Killer quads? Are you exercising for the right
amount of time to reap the full health benefits of cardiovascular fitness, or
Exercise experts, including fitness maven Denise Austin, answer
cardio questions for WebMD, so you can make the most of your muscle burn.
Cardio Exercise: The Heart of the Matter
"Cardiovascular exercise is any type of exercise that
increases the work of the heart and lungs," says Tommy Boone, PhD, a
founding member of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists.
"Walking, jogging, and running are common forms of cardiovascular, or
From running and walking, to swimming, elliptical
cross-training, biking, Stairmaster, and rowing -- to name a few -- the
physical benefits of cardio exercise abound, explains says Len Kravitz, PhD,
senior exercise physiologist for IDEA Health and Fitness Association. They
- Reduced risk of heart
- Improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Improved heart function
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Improved muscle mass
"The American College of Sports Medicine and the CDC
recommend, for health, that adults should accumulate 30 minutes of
moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week," says
Kravitz, who is also a coordinator of exercise science at the University of New
Mexico. "And to improve cardiovascular endurance, they recommend 20 to 60
minutes on three to five days per week."
Now that you know the benefits of cardio exercise, where should
your heart-pumping fitness plan begin?
Getting Into the Zone
To help you make the most of your cardio exercise workout --
help your heart, increase muscle, and lose fat -- Denise Austin, fitness
expert, author of seven books, including Shrink Your Female Fat Zones,
and star of 50 fitness videos, gives WebMD some tips.
"To reap all the benefits of a cardio workout, you should
sustain your workout for 20 minutes or more -- I do 30 minutes myself -- on a
schedule of about three to four times per week," says Austin.