Have you considered adding a cardio workout plan to your life, but get overwhelmed by the options? It’s hard to know which cardio exercise is best, especially if you are concerned about calorie burns and if you have injuries to work around.
Our reviews of typical cardio workouts below will help you decide. Just an FYI: the calorie counts are based on a person in decent shape that weighs about 160 pounds.
Cardio Workout Plans
Running is one of the most popular cardio workouts for a many reasons. For starters, you can do it anywhere. If you can build up to a 7.5 minute mile, you’ll be burning almost 1,000 calories per hour, more if your running path has hills or if you incorporate sprints. Running builds muscle in your legs and, because of it’s high impact qualities, supports strong bones and tissue.
The only equipment you’ll need is a good pair of running shoes. Having good shoes will make a huge difference in the way your legs feel the day after a run. Running is one of the best home workouts around.
Swimming works your entire body, which means it automatically burns more calories than many other cardio exercises (over 500 an hour). What’s great about swimming is that it’s low impact, making it safe for people who have injuries to consider or for people who are not in good shape.
You can find training programs easily for swimming, though you’ll probably need to be a member of a gym to participate in cold weather months.
If you are new to exercise, walking is one of the best ways to reprogram your body for healthy living. You can do it anywhere, it’s easy on your body, and you can work at a comfortable pace. Walking is also a great exercise to use for some meditation time, because it doesn’t require much coordination or mental awareness. You can plug in your iPod, zone out and work out the stresses in your life.
Once you build up to a 17 minute mile pace, you’ll be burning just under 300 calories per hour. After you have been walking a while, work to build your speed even more or add hilly terrain and you’ll automatically increase your calorie burn.
You can do this activity a number of ways. Most gyms have a traditional stair climbing machine. Just set your resistance to a level that’s challenging but not uncomfortable and climb away. If you are up for an extra cardio boost, try a machine that has a revolving set of stairs (it works almost like a treadmill, only climbing).
If you get bored with gym equipment, head to an actual staircase (sports stadiums are a great option) for your workout. This site has a listing of some outdoor staircases that are open to the public nationwide.
Stair climbing is a great workout for almost anyone. It burns around 650 calories an hour and is easy to do for most fitness levels. Just remember to count your workout time as going UP the staircase to protect your knees and always put your entire foot on the stair.
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Cycling is another activity that you can do indoors or out. For those who like structure, a spinning class at your local gym offers a fun, fast paced workout. Spinning classes are usually accompanied by loud music and energetic instructors so they can really keep you motivated to give your workout your best effort.
Outdoor cycling is another beast. Personally, this is one of my favorite ways to exercise. The equipment can be expensive to start, but you can reduce those costs by shopping for a used bike until you are sure that you like cycling. You can map different paths and see your local world in an all new way on the bike. You’ll burn a little over 400 calories an hour if you average a 10 minute mile.
Circuit training has been labeled a “shortcut to fitness” by WebMD, but that‘s not the only reason you should consider it. When circuit training, you’ll do small sessions of high intensity work for all muscle groups, one after another, with little or no rest in between. Sessions typically include weight training and target toning your entire body. The intensity levels and absence of rests between set keep your heart rate up and give you a cardio benefit.
If you are interested in trying this type of workout, look at the schedule of your local gym for a class labeled “boot camp” or something similar. You can also create a routine for yourself to follow at home, using minimal equipment.
Before you write off this option as being for kids only, hear me out. Jumping rope is a fantastic way to burn over 700 calories an hour. It’s easy to do if you travel for work (just toss a jump rope in your suitcase) and you can do it indoors when the weather is bad. No gym membership required.
If you can’t imagine jumping rope for 30 minutes to an hour, add in 10 minutes of jumping before a walk to increase the intensity of your overall workout.
The elliptical trainer is one of the most popular machines at the gym and for good reason. It’s design allows you to move in a running or walking motion with low impact to your knees and joints. If you use an elliptical trainer, be sure to add resistance and work at an intensity that prevents you from talking to your neighbor. Working at this level will burn up to 600 calories per hour. Put down the magazine too. It’s easy to be lazy when using any exercise machine, so you’ll have to make a conscious effort to challenge yourself!
So, what is the best cardio plan for you?
The one that fits you. Seriously. A good cardio workout is one that you will actually DO, several times a week for 30 – 60 minutes. So try out several and find one that you love (or at least one that you don’t hate) and get moving!