Commit To Be Fit: Basic Cardio Plans


UPDATED: Thursday September 13, 2012 10:13 AM

Cardio activity helps you lose weight, get better sleep and improve your mood, according to the YMCA.

This type of activity can even help you combat chronic illness, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis, according to MayoClinic.com. If you're just starting out, you might wonder what types of exercises are best for beginners and how often to exercise. Creating a basic cardio plan will help you accomplish your fitness goals.

Cardio Frequency:  Select moderate activities when you're just starting your workout plan. With moderate activity, you need only two hours and 30 minutes of cardio activity weekly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about 30 minutes, five times a week. Also, don't forget to plan strength training sessions. You need a minimum of two sessions each week, targeting your major muscle groups such as the hips, legs, abs, arms, chest and back.

Moderate Activity:  Moderate activity allows you to burn calories and lose weight. One example is walking at 3.5 mph, which burns 277 calories an hour for a 160-lb. person, according to MayoClinic.com. Another option is water aerobics, which sheds 292 calories an hour. Or select low-impact aerobics, which burns 365 calories an hour. Discuss an appropriate activity level for your situation with your medical provider. She will assist with setting safe and healthy goals.

Interval Training:  An interval training approach allows you to build strength and shed weight quicker. Interval training allows you alternate moderate and intense activity. For example, start out with a light activity, like walking. After a few minutes, switch to something more strenuous, such as jumping rope or jogging. Continue to alternate between the two different types of cardio activity for your entire cardio session.

Circuit Training:  Another option for your cardio plan is circuit training. With circuit training, you alternate cardio activity with strength training exercises to burn 30 percent more calories, according to "Fitness" magazine. For example, beginners can start out with a moderate activity, like walking at a brisk pace. After a few minutes, select a strength training activity, such as lunges. Then rotate back to walking for a few minutes and select a new strength training exercise, like bicep curls. Continue this rotation for at least 30 minutes.

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