We all overindulged in unhealthy food over the holidays, but with the new year comes another chance at redemption. However, people sometimes set unrealistic fitness goals and quickly become discouraged when they don’t see immediate results.

Here at E-Sports International, we believe that starting with small, achievable targets will give you a better chance of achieving them. In that regard, there’s no better place to start than good, old-fashioned cardio.

CARDIO 101

Cardiovascular exercise is an excellent way to build your engine. Many cardio workouts also have a very low barrier to entry, requiring only minimal equipment so you can do them virtually anywhere.

Technically speaking, any activity that gets your heart racing and your lungs pumping counts as cardio, so even weightlifting can have a strong cardiovascular component to it if you choose to have this kind of program. However, if you’re new to cardio and want to ease into this fitness routine, here are some simple workouts to try:

Running

Just about anyone can incorporate running into their fitness routine

Just about anyone can incorporate running into their fitness routine

No discussion of cardio can proceed without talking about running. You can choose to run either outside or on a treadmill, depending on the weather and your personal preferences.

But before you lace up those running shoes, here are a few pointers on proper running technique: look straight ahead; swing your arms back and forth (not across your body); keep your torso upright; and land on your midfoot then roll forward onto your toes.

Here’s a simple four-week running plan from Women’s Health. This program calls for 3-4 running sessions each week, following the given structure:

Week 1: Run 2 Minutes, Walk 2 Minutes | Repeat 7 Times (Total: 28 Minutes)

Week 2: Run 3 Minutes, Walk 1 Minute | Repeat 7 Times (Total: 28 Minutes)

Week 3: Run 4 Minutes, Walk 1 Minute | Repeat 6 Times (Total: 30 Minutes)

Week 4: Run 5 minutes, Walk 30 Seconds | Repeat 6 Times (Total: 33 Minutes)

Swimming

What’s great about swimming is that it is a low-impact exercise, making it kinder to your joints and bones. It is perfect for those with a history of injuries, or people with conditions like arthritis. As for form, make sure that your head, hips, and feet form one long line to reduce drag and make your workouts more efficient.

We found this great beginner swim program from Daily Burn. It requires only freestyle swimming, though you will need a kickboard to help develop your legs’ kicking motion. It’s best to do this about 3-4 times a week.

Swimming is a great low-impact cardio exercise Source: Daily Burn

Swimming is a great low-impact cardio exercise
Source: Daily Burn

Biking

While many of us learned to bike as kids, it’s still worth pointing out a few tips on good biking form. Try to pedal in “squares,” avoid slouching, and keep a moderate grip on the handlebars. These good practices apply to both regular and stationary bikes.

Check out this guide from Breaking Muscle. Note that you’ll need to define your RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion. This scale describes how challenging you find a given activity, with 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest.

Be sure to determine your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) before trying this program Source: Breaking Muscle

Be sure to determine your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) before trying this program
Source: Breaking Muscle

Jump Rope

Did you know that using a jump rope can help you burn up to 135 calories in just 10 minutes? If you’re using a jump rope to achieve fitness results, you need to observe proper form: jump at least 1-2 inches off the floor; keep your elbows close to your sides; and use your forearms and wrists to twirl the rope.

The correct rope length also encourages proper form and reduces your risk of injury. If you stand between 5’4 to 5’10 in height, make sure that the rope is at least 9 feet in length.

Here’s a 10-minute jump rope workout courtesy of POPSUGAR Fitness.

10-Minute Jump Rope Workout | Cardio Workout | Class FitSugar

The jump rope is more than child’s play; we consider it to be the ultimate fitness tool. And after trying this jump rope workout, we’re convinced you will too. This 10-minute workout will burn a ton of calories while toning your gams. If you don’t have a rope but are ready to get your sweat on, fake it and jump along with us.

A FEW REMINDERS… 

While the workouts cited above are all designed for beginners, we want to give you a few reminders:

Don’t be a superhero. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast can lead to injuries. Don’t be overconfident and jump from Week 1 to Week 4 of the program—fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.

Always warm up and cool down. Warm-ups loosen your joints, stretch your muscles, and increase blood circulation, allowing you to perform at your peak during workouts. Cool downs, meanwhile, allow your body to recover from the intensity of exercising, preventing problems such as dizziness or even fainting.

Drink plenty of water. You’ll be sweating a lot while doing cardio, so be sure to drink enough water before, during, and after workouts.

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