Cardiovascular Training
With a large percentage of Americans overweight, it's clear that many of us are not following the latest exercise
guidelines that prescribe an hour of exercise a day. In fact, there was no doubt a collective groan when people
realized they would now have to find an hour each day to do something they can't seem to find 5 minutes for.
How important are these guidelines and what can you do to make them fit into your life?

Before we talk about how much
Cardio you should do, you should at least know why it's so important.
Cardiovascular Training
simply means that you're involved in an activity that raises your heart rate to a level
where you're working, but can still talk (aka, in your Target Heart Rate Zone). Here's why
Cardio is so important:

  • It's one way to burn calories and help you lose weight,
  • It makes your heart strong so that it doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood,
  • It increases your lung capacity,
  • It helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes,
  • It makes you feel good,
  • It helps you sleep better,
  • It helps reduce stress,
  • I could go on all day, but you get the point,

Bottom line: You need
Cardio if you want to get your weight under control and get your stress to a tolerable

Each week I get questions about

  • How often we should do it?
  • How hard we should work?
  • Why we need it in the first place?

Many of us are confused about what to do because there are conflicting opinions about how much
Cardio we
really need. The guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine suggest 30 minutes of this
intensity exercise so many days a week, or vigorous
Cardio this many minutes a day, at this many days a week.
For weight loss, you might need even more (up to so many minutes) depending on your diet and other activities.
It's tough keeping all these rules straight and, the good news is that you don't have to...

Cardio isn't just for weight loss. Our Bodies Are Made to Move.

If you have a sedentary job, think about how your body feels at end of the day. Do you have tight muscles, an
aching back, feel exhausted even though you haven't done anything physical? Maybe your shoulders burn from
tension and your head hurts from staring at a computer screen for too long. Now, think about how your body
feels after a workout. Your muscles are warm and flexible, the blood is pumping through your body, providing
oxygen and energy. You feel energized, confident, proud of yourself and ready to take on the world. It's much
different, isn't it? Our bodies are made to move - - not sit around all day and yet, that's exactly what we're doing.

Next, take a moment to remember all the
BENEFITS of Cardio Exercise:

  • Weight loss,
  • Stronger heart and lungs,
  • Increased bone density,
  • Reduced stress,
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer,
  • Temporary relief from depression and anxiety,
  • More confidence about how you feel and how you look,
  • Better sleep,
  • More energy,
  • Setting a good example for your kids to stay active as they get older.

Notice that Weight Loss
, while a big focus for many people, is only one benefit of Cardio. Despite that, weight
loss is often our only goal and not just for health, but to look good. While there's nothing wrong with wanting to
look good, having that as our only goal can make exercise harder. Why? Because losing weight takes time...
what happens if you don't see results on your timetable? Where will your motivation go if the scale doesn't
cooperate? Open your mind to other reasons to exercise--you might just find new ways to make exercising

Cardio for Better Quality of Life

Appearance is important
That's why I take a shower every day, make sure my clothes match and check that I don't have anything green
stuck in my teeth. But I worry that we've gotten so obsessed with how we look that we no longer care about how
we feel. If you look at the benefits listed above, all of them translate into feeling good now and in the future.
Despite that, we still seem more entranced with getting six-pack abs than feeling good, both physically and

Have we forgotten that being active can make our lives better? Moving around increases blood flow to our
muscles, strengthens the heart and lungs and teaches the heart to work more efficiently. Not only that, when
you exercise you set a good example for your kids to do the same, which could mean a better future for them.

If all this is true, why isn't that enough to get us moving? Why do so many of us struggle with being active? Part
of it might be how we think about ourselves, our bodies and exercise. Read on to learn how to Change the Way
You Think.

We all get emotionally attached to certain ideas. A few years ago I would've laughed at the idea of enjoying my
workouts. Every workout I did had to be as hard as possible for as long as possible. But over the years I've
learned that exercise can actually feel good--no, not lounging-on-the-beach-sipping-margaritas good, but the
kind where I feel strong, confident and able to tackle anything. So, if you're only focused on weight loss, how
can you change that? How can you start looking forward to exercise?

Unfortunately, I didn't learn to appreciate my body until I got an injury. When I was forced to stop exercising, I
suddenly missed it. Try to learn to appreciate your body now, while it's in good working order. Just taking a few
moments during your workouts to imagine what it would be like if you couldn't do what you wanted can help
remind you how amazing your body is--no matter how it looks.

It takes time to change how you think about things. Part of making exercise part of your life might involve
opening your mind to different possibilities. Just for a moment, imagine what it would be like to exercise because
it feels good--not just because it helps you look good. Imagine how much more motivating it would be to exercise
because you want to, not just because you have to.

It really is possible to make exercise an enjoyable part of your life...

You just have to work at it!               
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