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Cardiovascular Activities - Walking, Running/Jogging, Aerobic Dance, Sprinting



Have a look at some of the articles published in previous issues of BetterU News...

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Cardiovascular Activities

Home -> The Library -> Cardio Activities 1

Aerobic Dance
Cross Country Skiing

The following is a short list of the most common forms of cardiovascular exercise, with the advantages and disadvantages of each one. This is by no means a definitive list. If you do something that's not on the list and it works for you, keep doing it.

1. Walking

Walking is probably the most common form of cardio. People all over the world do it everyday.

  • It is very low-impact and can be done for hours on end, making it perfect for low-intensity, long-duration aerobic training.
  • Fast walking can even get your heart-rate up into the aerobic training zone (70%) if you really push it or walk up hills.
  • This is the form of cardio most often recommended for beginning exercisers, as it is very easy and not stressful to the body at all.
  • Walking shoes can be a good idea if you plan on walking a lot.
  • If you use hand weights while you are walking, be aware that studies have shown no difference in calories burned, strength or bodyfat as compared to people who did not use hand weights.
Walking is one the best exercises around.

2. Running/Jogging

This is classic cardio and probably the first thing people think of when they think of getting in shape. Running can be done on the road, on a track, on a treadmill, through the woods, etc. All you need is a pair of shoes.

  • Running is a very natural activity, one that the body was built to do.
  • Running is also very effective at reducing hip size.
  • It is a very high-impact activity though, and very overweight people would be better off with something less jarring such as fast walking, cycling or swimming.
  • As with anything, start off slowly and gradually work up your speed and distance until you get where you want to be.
  • Running can also be a very social activity if you have a running partner or join a running club.
Running is very effective cardio training.

Performance Tips

  • Be careful when running down hills, as the impact is much greater. Overuse injuries due to excessive running are often caused by running downhill.
  • Ensure your foot is landing straight and is not splaying out to the side or inward.
  • If you get abdominal cramps while running you have a few options: stop and let it fade, stretch it out a little while running, massage the area, press on the area with your fingers or use your fist and punch the spot lightly. Cramps are caused by localized circulation difficulties. These strategies will help increase the circulation.
  • Get good shoes.
  • Allow your torso to rotate when striding. This will lengthen your stride and tighten up your waist as a bonus.
  • Keep your body erect and do not allow yourself to hunch over.
  • Don't bounce up too high when running. The goal is forward motion, not excessive up and down motion.
  • Don't run in areas where air pollution is bad. Running gets air into the really deep passages of your lungs. You don't want to saturate those areas with pollution.


3. Aerobic Dance Classes

The aerobic dance class is what likely pops into your head when you think of aerobic exercise.

  • These classes can be very effective for cardio training.
  • Be sure you are being taught by a qualified instructor.
  • There are also many excellent videos out so you can exercise in the privacy of your own home instead of going to a class.
  • For many people, the social component of aerobic classes is what keeps them coming back.
  • If you have no rhythm, however, this may not be for you as you may get frustrated.
  • You can buy aerobic shoes or simply use ordinary running shoes (make sure they have good padding and ankle support).

Types of Aerobics Classes

There are a few different basic types of aerobics: low-impact, high-impact, step and water.

  • Low-impact aerobics classes always keep one foot on the ground. There is no jumping or pounding to hurt joints. This is a good thing for anybody but especially for those who have a lot of excess weight and can't or shouldn't jump around.
  • High-impact aerobics involve some jumping movements and are appropriate for more advanced exercisers than beginners.
  • Step aerobics are done on a raised platform (adjustable) using a variety of moves designed to take advantage of the stepping-up movement. Step aerobics can be low-impact or high-impact.
  • Water aerobics are simply aerobics done in the water. They are very low-impact and, due to the buoyancy of the water, are very good for overweight people. It is not necessary to know how to swim to do water aerobics as they are usually done in waist-high water.

A recent innovation in aerobics is to include various marital arts or boxing moves into the mix, e.g. punching, kicking, etc. The popular Tae Bo™ videos are an example of this style. They give you the benefits of an aerobic workout plus some knowledge of self-defense.

4. Sprinting

Run as fast as you can. This type of cardio is suited to interval training and is generally not appropriate for beginners.

  • Explode with as much power as you can, keeping your stride length as long as possible.
  • Kick your heels up behind you and stretch forward with your feet before you plant them.
  • You should lean forward somewhat as you sprint to keep your center of gravity slightly unbalanced in the forward direction.
  • Stay on the balls of your feet for the first few seconds of acceleration then stretch it out and plant with your heels.
  • Your arms should be pumping powerfully and your head should stay looking straight forward.
  • You can try finishing longer runs with a sprint at the end, just to finish strong or test your willpower or just to beat your running partner.


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