Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 610,000 Americans die of heart disease in the country each year. There are three major factors that put people at a higher risk for heart disease—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Many don’t realize that their lifestyle choices such as their diet and physical activity can influence these three risk factors. By making a lifestyle change such as going vegan, you can reduce your risks and improve your overall well-being.
Here, you will learn what cardio is, why you need it, and what exercises you can do from the comfort of your home to reduce your risk of heart disease.
“Many don’t realize that lifestyle
choices such as their diet and physical
activity can influence three key risk
factors for heart disease.”
What is Cardiovascular Exercise?
Many associate cardio workouts with running or aerobic exercise, but there’s more to it than that. Any form of exercise that raises your heart rate and makes you breathe heavier can be considered a cardio workout. Cardio exercise improves your heart and lungs, making your cardiovascular system stronger in the process. As a result, the cells in your muscles get more oxygen, enabling them to burn more fat when you’re exercising or resting.
Walking does benefit your cardiovascular system, but it can’t qualify as a cardio exercise. That’s because these workouts involve large muscle movement over an extended period of time, long enough to challenge your heart and lungs to make them stronger. However, walking is a safe and easy first step to a regular cardio routine. You should start out slow, especially when you haven’t been very active lately. Then, you can slowly progress to high-intensity workouts.
Top 5 Cardio Exercises You Can Do at Home:
How many times have you used work as an excuse to avoid the gym?
Making a lifestyle change isn’t easy, especially when it’s out of your comfort zone. If you can spare 30 minutes of your day, you can make every minute count with a quick cardio workout. Thankfully, cardio exercises don’t really need expensive gear or wide open spaces. All you need to do is to work up the courage to start.
Here are a few cardio exercises you can squeeze in your busy schedule:
1. Jumping jacks
Also called a star jump, a jumping jack burns 100 calories in 10 minutes. Best of all, you don’t need any equipment or special skills to do this exercise. You just need a pair of good shoes and a healthy heart. Start from a standing position with your arms and legs at the sides. As you jump up high, your legs should be apart and your arms should be over your head. You can add a minute or two of jumping jacks before or after a regular workout routine or a strength workout.
2. Jump rope
Skipping rope might have been a childhood pastime, but you can still do it today to burn about 220 calories in 20 minutes. You just need a jump rope and a pair of good shoes. Jumping over a rope is fairly easy to do. As long as you turn the rope using your wrists, not your arms, you won’t tire easily. Instead of jumping very high, you can jump just high enough to avoid the rope so you can do longer sessions. While you’re still starting out, you can do 10 to 30-seconds of jumps and alternate it with marching in place. As you progress, focus on extending your sessions and incorporating them with other cardio exercises like jumping jacks.
3. Squat jumps
Squat jumps may require no equipment, but strong joints and a healthy heart are necessary. A powerful plyometric exercise, squat jumps raise your heart rate, strengthen your lower body, and burn calories. The key to a fat-burning workout is proper execution. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Do a regular squat before engaging your core and jumping up explosively. Lower your back and bend your knees when you land. Like any plyometric exercise, you have to focus on landing softly to protect your joints.
4. Mountain climbers
A mountain climber is another equipment-free full-body exercise which you can incorporate into any cardio circuit. Aside from increasing your heart rate, it also strengthens your lower body, arms, and core. The move is quite simple. Starting from a traditional plank, you engage your core and bring your right knee forward, just under your chest. Then, return to a basic plank before bringing your other knee forward. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Eventually, it starts to feel like you’re running in a plank position.
Also known as squat thrusts, burpees are a total-body workout. They require no equipment, and you can do them anywhere. When done correctly, this exercise burns at least 100 calories in 10 minutes. Of course, you might not last 10 minutes on your first try, but you might if you keep on practicing. Burpees aren’t easy, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
To do a burpee the right way, do a basic squat, with your knees bent, and your hands planted flat on the floor. Next, move into a plank position. Thrust your feet back, and make sure you don’t arch your back or stick your butt out. Then, move your feet forward again, much like in your starting position, before lunging into the air with your arms over your head.
Putting It All Together
You can combine these each of these exercises into a complete home cardio workout; spending 2-4 minutes doing each exercise with 2-4 minute breaks thrown in two of three exercises when you are starting out. As you progress you can shorten your rest intervals and increase the time you spend doing each exercise. When you become more advanced you can also add in adjustable dumbbells or ankle weights which are great additions to home gyms.
A good workout doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time and money. Using these home cardio workouts, you can make exercise a daily habit. A cardio routine is essential for your body and mind, and it pairs well with any proper nutrition program or diet like paleo, vegan, and others.
Always consult your doctor before making drastic lifestyle changes, especially if you have serious health problems. Medical professionals will help you understand your limitations. They will set restrictions to your workout regimen if needed. If the doctor says you’re healthy enough to do high-intensity cardio, start small anyway. Make sure your workout routine is enjoyable to keep you motivated to exercise every day. Always monitor your heart rate and adjust the intensity of your cardio workout along the way.
About the Author:
Kevin Lee is the founder of www.ShapeJunkie.com Health and fitness have always been a passion for him; whether it’s being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and the love of fitness with others. You can follow ShapeJunkie on Pinterest as well.
What are your favorite cardio exercises?
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