If you have general fitness and wellness goals, you probably need some cardio in your training program. However, what you do for that cardio may vary considerably from what you are imagining. Slogging away on a treadmill or elliptical is definitely not required to improve cardiovascular fitness and all the fabulous benefits that come with it.
Putting it simply, cardio is any exercise that increases your heart rate to the point that your breathing rate increases and you start to feel warm. In order to get the desired benefits, you need to place adequate stress on the cardiovascular system to get the system to adapt and change for the better. Cardiovascular fitness allows you to perform “large muscle, repetitive moderate to high intensity exercise for an extended period of time.” The mountain hike on vacation, hours of quickly walking from ride to ride at an amusement park, raking and bagging leaves all afternoon, dancing the night away and even lifting weights will be much more manageable if you improve your cardiovascular fitness. That’s because cardio improves your body’s function in so many ways. One of the main improvements is a more efficient heart beat so your body is better able to deliver and use oxygen for metabolic purposes. It’s pretty cool how your body adapts to the (good) stress you place on it.
How do you get to the point of making these adaptations happen without wanting to quit (or pass out)? Here are your five tips:
I don’t run on Dunkin’. I run on sleep. And so do you. In recent years, you’ve probably heard a lot more about the importance of sleep. I know it can get annoying, even stressful, if you feel that you can’t find the time for more sleep or if your brain simply doesn’t seem to allow you to get more than few hours each night. Skimping on sleep is a necessity sometimes but it can become dangerous to pride yourself on your ability to "get by" on little sleep. That's not how the human body works. So, why is sleep so important?
While I was 12, my parents separated and my mom became a single parent to two preteens. Judy worked full-time and took care of everything at home. Now that I’m middle-aged, I have a greater appreciation for her habits and the choices she made while I was growing up. A few lessons stand out as I look back from 40-something years old.
Did you know…
Balance, put simply, is the ability to maintain your center of gravity. It involves strength & stability of the foot, ankle and trunk as well as input from the eyes (visual), inner ear (vestibular system), joints and muscles (proprioceptors). All these systems work together to help us stay upright.
The visual system is really important when it comes to maintaining balance, which is why you can feel wobbly when you get up to go the bathroom in the dark and why your balance can change depending on where you focus your eyes. The vestibular system sends signals to the brain that is related to our head position, orientation in space, and motion. If the vestibular system is “off”, you may feel dizzy and unable to maintain balance. This system isn’t as efficient when we get older explaining why I no longer enjoy roller coasters or curvy roads!
Age-related changes in muscle mass, motor neurons, the vestibular system, eyesight, and even blood pressure can result in balance difficulties, thus leading to an increase in falls in older populations. However, just because these changes happen naturally doesn’t mean we can’t slow the process and make improvements.