Cardiovascular exercise is important for everybody. It keeps the heart healthy and reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease associated with today’s sedentary lifestyle, yet with so many options available the rates of obesity are still growing. There are a lot of reasons for this ranging from demographics to cost, but I think a lot of the reason people don’t try a new program is because they are intimidated.
Exercise can be intimidating. No one wants to look bad doing it. No one wants to jiggle. The way we look in the mirror plays a huge role in how we feel, and exercise clothes are form-fitting (for safety reasons), further hindering those who feel uncomfortable in tight attire. Some people even find sweating a detracting factor.
The biggest determent is time, which is why walking is such a fantastic option for those looking to increase their cardio output. There are so many ways to add walking into your routine, including:
- Walk the dog
- Park near the back of a parking lot
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Get up to stretch your legs once an hour by strolling through the office
- Hiking on the weekend at your favorite park
- Marching in place
- Visiting the neighbors
- Strolling around the house while on a phone call
Unlike running, walking does not place a lot of impact on your joints and lower back, and the more you do it. Walking helps loosen up stiff joints while strengthening muscles and promoting weight loss. A.2015 study published in Circulation cited that physical activity was related to lower levels of cardiovascular disease, and that those who walked at faster paces and logged greater distances tended to have the lowest CVD risks. The best thing about walking is that the more you do it, the more you can do it and the easier it becomes.
What if you cannot start walking because of weight, joint pain, paralysis, or some other health-related issue? Try swimming instead! Pool time greatly reduces the stress put on the body while adding resistance to any movement you do. My own grandfather has used the pool for years to do exercises after his hips began bothering him, and swimming is well-known for alleviating the effects that gravity exerts on pregnant women.
The typical obstacles that most people face when starting to walk or swim are proper attire and measuring their rate of exertion. It is important to wear proper footwear when you’re walking to support your joints and a clerk at an athletic shoe store can really help you determine a good shoe to wear that falls within your budget. As for swimming, you want to make sure you’re wearing a comfortable swim suit or close-fitting attire that won’t ride up while you’re in the water. Yes, these are upfront expenses but let’s face it: compared to a life full of medical bills, this is cheap!
As for the rate of exertion, if you can carry on a conversation but feel somewhat breathless, that’s a great thing to achieve. You don’t have to be struggling for air to get a great workout in but you also want to make sure you’re not making it too easy on yourself. Working out takes, well, work 😉 You ought to feel it without overdoing it.
The most important thing is to just get moving! Don’t worry too much about form or what you can do for how long you can do it. Moving breeds fitness and fitness brings weight loss.