The basic equation of weight loss, INTAKE – OUTPUT = WEIGHT GAIN / LOSS is covered in the post on Weight Loss Basics. If you haven’t done so already, I really suggest you take a look before continuing on here. While Principle #2 deals with the intake portion of the above equation, Principle #3 and Principle #4 deal with output.
Aerobic exercise, or cardio for short, is the cornerstone of most fitness plans. Cardio involves increasing your activity level to increase your heart rate and increase the flow of oxygen to your muscles (aerobic means “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen”). The goal of cardio is to raise your heart rate over 50% of its maximum capacity by performing sustained large muscle movements for an extended period. Cardio is kind of like strength training for your heart muscle – a stronger cardiovascular system leads to more capillaries which can deliver more oxygen to your muscle cells. This in turn enables your cells to burn more fat during both exercise and inactivity.
Common Examples of Cardio
Given the definition above, there are hundreds of ways to perform cardio but there are several which stand out as the easiest and the most likely to begin with. Some like walking and running require no equipment, except a good pair of shoes and are within reach of anyone with the desire to start. For those with access to a pool, swimming is a great alternative which provides a low impact, total body workout. Jumping rope, or skipping is another alternative requiring the simplest of equipment which can be easily improvised with any rope.
Cycling or bike riding is a great alternative which only requires that you have a bike or access to a gym with stationery bikes. A gym membership can also grant access to more equipment like ellipticals and stair climbers which can offer a higher intensity workout than simply walking and running. The gym may also have a rowing machine, which can focus on more muscles than the elliptical or stair climber.
Benefits of Cardio
There are many benefits to those who engage in sufficient cardio. First and most obviously, cardio leads to weight loss which is the main reason that most people begin a regimen of cardiovascular exercise. Cardio also strengthens the heart by teaching it to work more efficiently which in turn reduces your resting heart rate. This will both lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Regular cardio can also strengthen the lungs and improve lung capacity as they are also forced to work more during exercise.
Exercise releases endorphins, natural pain killers, which will reduce stress and depression. Even though it may not seem like it, exercising helps to increase your energy level and allow you to be more active. Being more active will also help you sleep better at night as we tend to sleep better when we wear ourselves out during the day. Finally, those who exercise will not only live longer but they will also age better as they will maintain bone density, decreasing their risk of osteoporosis, and better maintain muscle mass.
Putting the Out in Trek Out
My whole concept of Trek out revolves around the idea that it’s better to exercise outdoors. While not always possible or practical, I recommend that you try it whenever possible. EPA studies have shown that Americans on average spend approximately 90% of their time indoors where concentrations of some pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.
Getting outdoors exposes you to fresh air which can help you fight off infection and disease. You will also be exposed to sunlight which helps you produce Vitamin D which also helps your immune system and your vision. Researchers have also found that simply being outdoors and in nature can reduce stress and improve general well-being. Spending time outdoors also increases the levels of serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the body, and university studies have shown that those who spend enough time outdoors “showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.”
Another factor in Trek Out is to go out and try something new, especially if it gets you outdoors. Ever wanted to try kayaking? Trek out and try it! Interested in martial arts? Sign up for it! Never owned a bike? Go rent one and try it! Never been to the state park on the other side of town? Plan a day and go!
The point is to get out of your comfort zone, get outdoors and get active!
Check Out These Posts for More Details on Trekking Out:
KILTED! Principle #4 – Part 1
KILTED! Principle #4 – Part 2