Let's face it, most of us live pretty busy lives and the amount of time spent exercising does eat up what little free time a lot of us have. I don't like to waste my free time any more than anyone else, so if I am going to use it up on an activity, then I feel the rewards of the activity should outweigh the cost.
One of the activities that I add to my workout routines is a cardio program. I do not enjoy cardio at all, but I understand that it is important. So if I am going to invest my time in a cardio routine, you better believe I am going to make sure that I am maximizing the benefit of that routine.
There's a lot of great cardio equipment out there, and I use a variety of them, ranging anywhere from treadmills to exercise bikes to stair steppers and more. Treadmills appear to be the most popular of the cardio equipment. However, the same principles can be applied to other cardio equipment, too.
Slow down -- it's not a race
I have found that I burn fat faster moving at a moderate pace than an all-out sprint. When you go out at 100 percent, you burn more glycogen than fat. Basically, you're burning carbohydrates instead of your fat stores. The idea to effectively burn fat is to go at a moderate pace for a longer period of time. Moderate pace means just that, not too fast and not too slow. On a treadmill, I like to walk at a fast enough pace where I am building up a sweat, but I could also hold a conversation without panting. The keyword here is "walk" -- once you start jogging and running, you are really moving away from the optimal fat-burning pace.
Short and sweet isn't the key
Your cardio time should range anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. If you plan on an hour and a half cardio session, split it into two sessions: one for the morning, and then one in the evening.
If you're going to do it, do it right
Always perform a full range of motion on your exercise equipment. Don't cheat yourself by taking baby steps. On the treadmill, take long strides instead of short little steps. By taking longer strides, you will work the hamstrings and glutes (back of the leg and buttocks) more.
In addition to talking longer strides, try to avoid holding on to the rails of the treadmill. Let your arms move back and forth as you would when running. You will be surprised of the difference of not holding on to the exercise equipment if you are already use to holding on to the treadmill, stair stepper or any other exercise equipment while performing the exercise.
Try it for just one workout -- you will feel the difference in a matter of minutes. Note: If you feel you must hold on to avoid falling or getting hurt, then by all means, hold on.
Take deep breaths in through the nose and out of the mouth when doing cardio. You may focus more on the activity at hand when you concentrate on your breathing.
Tying it all together
If you're going to add cardio, then maximize the workout's benefits. Slow your pace to maximize fat-burning benefits. Increase cardio workouts over a longer duration, using full range of motion on the equipment and breathing correctly.
Gerald Gore is the owner of the online fitness review site One4Fitness. For more health and fitness related tips and reviews on workout equipment visit Gerald's site at http://www.one4fitness.com.