Vegetables and Cardio Have A Lot in Common
Cardiovascular exercise is defined as exercise that primarily stresses our heart and lungs, and most of us intuitively understand or have been told that cardiovascular exercise is good for heart health. Unfortunately, much like eating our vegetables everyday, it's difficult to stay motivated and keep consistent - but why?
One of the largest enemies to healthy habit compliance is stagnation, or when routines become boring to us. Much like how a new diet becomes harder to follow after weeks of eating the same bowl of steamed broccoli every night, that same walk around the neighborhood can become a dreadful routine without encouraging results.
This post will discuss some key points in psychology and routine maintenance to keep your cardio routine fun and effective.
Why Mix Things Up?
The human body is always striving to be more energy efficient, cutting corners wherever it can to save effort. This becomes especially true with our exercise routines: our bodies become accustomed to repeating movement patterns, which reduces the energy demands on our bodies. This is usually a helpful process, allowing us to handle more of the same activity down the road.
Unfortunately, most of us end up performing the same volume of exercise out of routine, even once our bodies have adapted - this results in the activity becoming less stressful to our bodies, and therefore less beneficial. Over time, your cardio routine will not only become less effective physically, but will also become less exciting and difficult to maintain psychologically.
The three variables I recommend changing to keep your cardio engaging are mode, method, and intensity.
Your preferred mode of cardio refers to how you exercise. Some of us prefer running, while others might prefer a relaxing swim. Whatever you choose, it's important to move outside of your comfort zone and challenge your body in new ways. One of my favorite methods for varying my mode of cardio is picking a different mode for each day of exercise. For example, you could walk on Monday, swim on Wednesday, and cycle on Friday.
Your method is an extension of your mode, and by that I mean the specific way you perform your selected exercise. Tired of walks? Try walking uphill or speed walking. Bored with cycling? Try to keep your bicycle in one gear for your entire ride. Whatever you choose, make sure you're having fun with the changes and looking forward to your exercise.
The intensity of your cardio refers to how much work is being done over a set amount of time. To clarify: a thirty-minute walk would be considered low-intensity, while a thirty-second sprint is considered high-intensity. To keep things interesting, switch your pace and exercise for a shorter period with higher intensity (or visa versa if you're mostly doing high-intensity work). This is commonly referred to as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and is a very effective form of exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise is essential for optimal health, but can be difficult to maintain.
Mixing up your cardio routine can be fun and beneficial for your physical and mental health.
Three ways to mix up your cardio include changing method, mode, or intensity.
What's your favorite cardio routine right now? Let us know in the comments!
Warning: Please contact your doctor to ensure that your cardiovascular system is adequately healthy before performing exercise. Stop exercise immediately if you feel dizzy, faint, or short of breath for any reason.