SolveYourProblem Article Series: Weight Loss & Dieting
How Do I Really Lose Weight?


Cardiovascular & Aerobic Exercise For Best Results

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that gets your heart rate pumping above its natural rate. Despite any foreboding stigma the terms – aerobic, cardiovascular – may conjure in one’s mind, they don’t necessarily require engaging in particularly strenuous activity; a brisk walk can easily accomplish the task, as can playing with the kids or the dog. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator qualifies, as does using a push mower instead of a rider mower to cut the lawn.

A key note before we continue is that anyone with an unstable medical condition should be sure to get the O.K. from their doctor before starting any program of exercise, and get their doctor’s input as to what types of exercise would be appropriate. Further, anyone with a metabolic, pulmonary, or cardiac disease should initiate their exercise regimen in an environment that’s supervised by a medical professional.

The latest recommendation is that every person receive between 30-45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise 3-5 times each week.

For the best results with your choice of aerobic exercise program, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) lists several factors that ought to be taken into account:

  • Impact – Do the activities you’re considering include any jumping or other forms of bodily impact that risk hurting your joints? If so, certain exercises like cycling, rowing, swimming, in-line skating, and cross-country skiing make excellent substitutes.
  • Convenience – Certain exercises can only be done in certain environments (in- or out-of-doors, water or mountains, etc.). Others are seasonal. And still others require special equipment, large and expensive, that you either must buy and store or go to a gym to use. The best way to stick with an exercise program is to choose one that will be realistic for you to perform without a big hassle.
  • Skill – It’s easy to get discouraged engaging in a form exercise that requires a large degree of skill to perform. While finding exercises that appeal to your desire to learn new skills is certainly a great way to stay motivated, make sure not to pick exercises that fall so far outside your skill set that you’d get frustrated at your lack of ability and give up before you developed enough skill to enjoy doing it.
  • Social Factor – Not only is it often more fun and enjoyable to engage in aerobic exercise with other people, but certain cardiovascular exercises are safer when done in a group environment.

The hardest step to take is also the most important step to take is also the easiest step to take, and that’s to start. If one of your obstacles to exercise is that you have difficulty maintaining your desired stamina, if you get tired and run-down quicker and more easily than you’d like, the solution is simple. Just increase the distance or duration of your workout ever so slightly each time; walk just a little bit further, etc. The best way to build up your endurance is in slow and reasonable increments.

In order for aerobic or cardiovascular exercise to be beneficial, it must raise your heart rate above it’s natural pace, which by definition requires an element of exertion. However, no matter what the exercise, it should never be so strenuous that you can’t catch your breath and talk comfortably to another person while in the middle of it. The effort of the exercise should be present, and a reasonable amount of discomfort is acceptable, but never under any means should you feel pain.

If you feel pain during any form of cardiovascular exercise – stop! Stop right there. When you do go back to cardiovascular exercise at a later date (ie. the following day), start slower, lighter, easier, and stop sooner.

Finally, an essential component of effective cardiovascular exercise comes before and after the actual exercise. Not only does warming up before the exercise and cooling down afterwards help the body receive and integrate the benefits of the exercise, but they are necessary to preventing the body from experiencing serious strain and injury from the exercise.

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