People need to keep interested in their workouts in order to stay motivated. The key to a successful cardio routine is variety. Anyone can easily shake things up by adding fresh elements to everyday cardio routines.
Using intervals is a great way to change fitness as usual for the better. Alternating between low and high intensity during an exercise can make it much more enjoyable. For example, one might run for five minutes and walk for two minutes, on and off until the workout session is over.
Another option is to use the Fartlek method. Fartlek is a Swedish word meaning "speed play." Fartlek intervals will be low, moderate and high intensity. The pattern could go something like sprinting for 30 seconds, jogging for three minutes, sprinting again, and walking for two minutes repeatedly. It gives people the chance to get really creative with their routines.
Adding weight during exercise helps increase muscle strength, plus it drives the body to burn more calories. However, during cardio workouts, carrying dumbbells can be a hassle. Wearing ankle weights increases the risk of knee injury. Moreover, who want their center of gravity to be thrown off that much?
The clear solution: weighted belts and vests. These nifty gadgets boost cardio routines without being burdensome. They also present a lower risk of injury than ankle and wrist weights. Nonetheless, they should be avoided by people who have problems with their back or joints. Those who are able to use weighted belts and vests will reap remarkable results.
Seek New Scenery
One practical way to enhance cardio routines is to try them out somewhere other than usual. Jogging on a treadmill is completely unlike jogging outside. Someone who switches from the first to the latter will be challenged by new surfaces underfoot, the elements (e.g., wind), and unpredictable gradients. A person who runs outside already might try cardio in a hillier area that what he or she is used to. Any change that makes a workout more demanding will be wholly worthwhile.
Watch the Clock
Cardio is most effective when done from 20 to 45 minutes at a time. It can actually be dangerous after the 45-minute mark, when a hormone called cortisol increases, putting the exerciser at risk of losing muscle tissue. Timing also counts in regards to food intake.
Cardio is most effective when glycogen levels are low. Hunger is a great indicator of low glycogen levels, so meals should be scheduled at least two hours before workouts. If meals are eaten too soon before workouts, the body will burn recently consumed carbs rather than stored calories. Postponing mealtime is just another way to boost the positive effects of cardio. Now, if only all of them were so easy!