DOs and DON'Ts of Cardio

The many benefits of cardiovascular training are well recognized and understood. But despite the simple appearance of this mode of exercise, there are several common mistakes that people make in their cardio routines that can cause injury or prevent proper recovery. There are also many techniques that could help you enjoy your workout more and provide faster results that you may not have yet put into practice.

DO Eat Before

A myth has crept into the exercise realm that you can lose more weight by exercising without eating beforehand. There is no science to back up this claim. In fact, a 2011 study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism directly contradicted this assertion. The findings suggest that a light meal with little-to-no fat will cause you to actually burn more calories for up to 24 hours following your workout.

DON’T Perform the Same Workout Everyday

It’s a fairly well known fact that your workout should vary from day to day. Too often, though, this does not translate to cardio and people commonly practice the same form of cardiovascular exercise every day. This can lead to muscular imbalances and overuse injuries, ultimately being counterproductive. If you’re a runner, for example, consider mixing biking, swimming and other cardio activities into your schedule.

DO Be Choosey About Your Equipment

Not all cardiovascular equipment is created equal. Equipment that is poorly made could not only limit the effectiveness of your workouts, it could also increase your risk of injury. If your favorite form of cardio is running, it’s worth investing in the best treadmills for running. The best equipment also allows you to vary your workout with a variety of adjustable speed and incline levels.

DON’T Skip Your Warm-up

Exercisers are often pressed for time and habitually cut their workouts short. One of the first things to go is usually the warm-up, but skipping your warm-up could both decrease your performance and lead to injury. A brief warm-up, between five and 10 minutes, increases the temperature and blood flow to muscles and connective tissue, preparing them for the demands of your workout.

DO Set Appropriate Goals

Unrealistic goals can leave you discouraged and feeling as though you’re wasting your time. Although cardiovascular exercise targets the heart and lungs, several other biological systems contribute to your overall performance. Hormone levels, illness, medications, joint injuries and even mood can all affect your workout either positively or negatively. For this reason, it’s important to set goals based on your individual capabilities. Consult with a fitness or medical professional for help in setting goals that are achievable but still challenging for you.

By avoiding some of these DON’Ts and incorporating these DOs, you’re bound to enjoy exercise more and see faster results.

Have you identified any mistakes you were making with your fitness routine? How did you remedy them? What gets you excited to work out?


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