Have you noticed as you’ve gotten older how much harder it is to climb stairs? Walk longer distances? Keep up with the grandkids? Or even your own kids?
It’s not your imagination. We lose cardiovascular endurance as we ‘mature’. 😉
It’s for this reason - as well as the facts that cardio exercise strengthens our heart and lungs, gives us more energy, sharpens our mind, burns calories for weight control, reduces anxiety and depression symptoms and helps keeps us young – that cardio is key to aging ‘young’.
So what types of exercise and how much do we need?
Walking is a great form of exercise, especially as we get older. It can be done anywhere, requires no equipment other than a supportive, well-fitting pair of shoes, and provides some impact on your bones to keep them strong. Biking and swimming are also great exercise, as are gym machines such as the elliptical and rower.
The type of activity is less important than the duration, frequency and intensity. Find an activity you like that gets your heart rate up and that you’ll be able to stick with. It’s also great to mix it up. Walking one day, biking the next, maybe swimming. Whatever you enjoy.
Try to work up to exercising for 20-30 minutes 4-5 days of the week. More if you’re trying to lose weight. You may not be able to do this if you’re just starting out, but gradually work up to it. If it’s too difficult to maintain for 20 minutes, start at 10 and try for three days a week. Remember – everyone starts somewhere. Don’t worry about where you are. Just get started.
Work at an intensity that’s challenging but you can maintain for the duration of your exercise. You want to be able to talk (breathlessly) but not be able to sing. If you can sing, push yourself a little harder. Be sure to start slowly and warm up.
To make things more challenging, increase your endurance, and make your workout a little more fun, interval training is a great option. Interval training is where you push yourself a little harder for short periods of time (intervals). For example, walk at your normal pace, then walk faster or even run, for say 30 seconds, or until you get to the mailbox or tree up ahead. Then slow down to your normal pace. Don’t slow too much, just catch your breath. You can do these intervals as often as you want – every two minutes for example.
The most important consideration for a cardio routine is consistency. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take time and regularity to increase your endurance level.
You can do it!
Let me know if you have any questions.