If there is one thing that adults across the world lack, it is this: consistent and strenuous exercise. According to a recent study, less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
And physical exercise is important. Consistent physical exercise has been associated with:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Lowered cholesterol
- Increased lung capacity
- Lowered blood pressure
- Lowered resting heart rate
And that is just a list of the physical health benefits of consistent exercise. Mental health benefits include reduced depression, lessened anxiety, reduced psychosomatic symptoms, decreased dissociation, among many, many others.
In fact, the American Cancer Society states that one-third of all cancers are linked to diet and exercise. It is remarkable how many of the illnesses that dominate first-world countries are linked to the amount of times we gain physical activity. What can you do, aside from exercise? Try:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking further away from the store
- Mow your lawn instead of hiring someone
For those looking to start an exercise routine, it’s easy to become discouraged. There are many different options, from indoors to outdoors, and it’s difficult to determine which one is going to work for me and my physical and mental needs. No need to worry! Here is a quick list of cardiovascular activities to get you started.
Walking is a positive cardiovascular activity; some would even say it is the most effective form of cardio. That’s because walking stimulates your heart, lungs, blood pressure, and more while requiring you to work out your legs and core (because you need to keep that sense of balance). Walking is great because it is low-impact; it doesn’t affect your bones and joints like running.
Swimming is a great form of cardio. Swimming means adjusting your idea of what cardio means–which, mostly, that cardio is a form of lower body activity. Swimming forces you to use all your muscles, from your arms and shoulders to your legs and core. The motion forces every muscle to get stronger, while burning a ton of calories and elevating your heart rate.
You may think of the elliptical as a boring, dry cardio activity with little interest and lack of engagement. But did you know that you can burn more calories with an elliptical machine than many others? It’s because of the motion: a half climb, half push that is a little like doing a fast snow shoe race. The dual motions in your lower and upper bodies cause you to work harder and burn more calories.
The Stationary Bike
The stationary bike is a great way to burn calories. While it may not have the same full body movement as swimming or the elliptical, the stationary bike allows you to adjust resistance in the same way to mimic riding up hills. In that way, it creates a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the workout. It also elevates your heart rate.
Long the staple of gyms is the cycling class. Cycling may seem similar to a stationary bike but cycling classes tend to more intense, with an instructor and music. A cycling class (or spin studio) can provide major health benefits, though be prepared to work out! Those health benefits include:
- Research shows that cycling 30 minutes each day will burn 11 pounds of fat over the course of the year.
- Research conducted in Finland showed that people who cycled for more than 30 minutes each day had a 40% less chance of developing diabetes.
- Cycling at a speed of 10 miles per hour can burn 260 calories in one hour.
The truth is, group fitness classes can have a demonstrable benefit on individuals, especially if they value the camaraderie of a group setting and use others as an example to get better and improve. Cycling is generally a group class, rather than a standalone activity, though some gyms are changing that.
A spin studio is likely to provide the benefits you need in order to get started with cardio activity. A spin studio provides a set time to workout, an opportunity to meet friends, and a motivating instructor. A spin studio also provides an indoor place to workout when the weather gets cold.