The Fitness Guide

Rosie Gomez's Guide to Getting Fit!


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How Smart Cardio Can Help You Meet Your Weight-Loss Goals

feet on scaleFor many people who are working to achieve fitness goals, cardio workouts inspire intense love/hate relationships. Cardio workouts can be time consuming and monotonous, and after the initial weight loss you may be frustrated when you quickly hit a plateau.

Fitness experts keep saying that cardio is an integral part of a workout routine, but they are also quick to describe all of the ways that we’re doing our cardio wrong. The frequency and duration of cardio workouts, it turns out, are not as important as the intensity.

That’s right, intensity.

It might come as something of a blow to those of us that think an hour on the treadmill while watching cat videos on YouTube counts as cardio. If that statement sounds familiar, read on to learn how you can maximize your cardio workouts and achieve your fitness goals much more quickly.

Map Your Workouts

If you feel like you’re stuck in a cardio rut, don’t despair. You’re not alone. Many people feel quite comfortable in their cardio routine without realizing that they’re likely sabotaging some of their fitness goals.

Start keeping track of your cardio exercises. If you’re running, walking, or cycling, make a note of the distance traveled and the time that you spent doing it. Then decipher your miles per hour rate. Experts say that traveling three miles over the course of an hour each day is the amount of exercise needed to maintain the weight of an average woman. Surely we can do better than that.

Many people use heart rate monitors while they map workouts, as well. Keeping track of your heart rate while you exercise can provide you with important information that will help you move on to more intense workouts.

running at sunriseIncrease the Intensity

Most experts agree that intensity is the key to a successful cardio workout. The human body is uniquely capable of adapting very quickly to exercise. While you might think that your current walking or running routine is sufficient, your body says otherwise with a decline in weight loss.

Start slowly in the beginning but focus on pushing yourself each time you walk, run, or cycle. Alternate your current pace with bursts of speed and lengthen the duration of those bursts over time. For instance, if you would describe the intensity of your workout as a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, try to reach a 5 on the intensity scale for one minute out of each ten minutes that you’re exercising. When that pace begins to feel comfortable, it’s time to move up again.

Experts also advise that you consider varying your cardio workouts. For instance, if you’re a runner you should try cycling once or twice a week to challenge your body and its metabolism.

Cardiovascular fitness is important for overall health and it can be a powerful weight loss tool as well, if done properly. Get a clear picture of your current workouts by keeping notes and using a heart rate monitor, then focus on increasing the intensity of those workouts over time. Before you know it you’ll be stronger, more fit, and much closer to meeting your weight loss goals.

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Fun Activities That Pack a Calorie-Burning Punch

One of the hardest things about exercising and working out is the fact that most of it lacks the element of fun. Sure, you can catch up on episodes of “Scandal” while on the treadmill, but the fact remains that you’re still on a treadmill, and that’s not much fun.

Thankfully, those who create and design workout methods and routines are constantly on the lookout for ways to keep us engaged in exercise. While these workout creations are becoming more fun, they still don’t fully replace immersive games and sports that are challenging, active, and highly entertaining.

If you’re bored with your current workout and would like to add something new to your routine, consider some of these fun activities that just happen to burn a lot of calories.

flying disk on the beachPlaying With Flying Discs

While many of us are known to play with flying discs (like Frisbees) at the beach or at a backyard barbecue, we might not know that an hour of Frisbee can burn over 500 calories. Of course you’ll have to maintain a steady playing pace for that hour, but if you have a high energy child or an enthusiastic dog, you might find that the hour flies right by.

For the really athletic flying disc enthusiasts, see if there is an ultimate league in your area. Played like rugby but with a disc in place of a ball, ultimate is a high-energy, fun way to work out.

Horseback Riding

Learning to ride a horse can be difficult, but it is also a very physically challenging pursuit. Ask an experienced rider if an hour in the saddle is a workout and they’ll overwhelmingly agree that it is. Almost every muscle in the body needs to be engaged to maintain the proper position in the saddle, as well as to control the 1,200 pound animal you’re sitting on.

An hour spent actively in the saddle can burn as many as 400 calories. A simple trail ride at a walk won’t be enough, however. You’ll need to really work yourself and your horse to achieve the maximum fitness potential that riding offers.

Hiking

Hiking is one of the best ways to get out of a boring workout routine and into something new and different. However, if you really want to maximize your hikes you should consider hiking with a loaded pack.

A few heavy books or water bottles can act as weights, and as you hike with twenty or thirty extra pounds, you’re really taking your efforts to the next level. Your leg and back muscles get a great workout, and you’re raising your cardio benefits, too. Increase the weight over time for maximum results.

putting on rollarbladesSkating

Whether you’re on ice or asphalt, skating is a fun and physical activity that can burn more calories than walking. Fast paced and engaging, skating is perfect for those who want to try something other than walking or running. It’s also relatively low impact so it’s easier on the joints.

Find a skating rink in your area and take the kids or your friends for a fun workout that strengthens your whole body.

It can be a real challenge to keep our workouts fun and exciting while maintaining their health benefits. Try some of these activities to reap the physical and mental rewards.