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What are the most effective exercises for developing cardiovascular fitness?

This is a very important question, and one that I have spent considerable time contemplating as I look for ways to stay in shape while avoiding exercise-related injuries.

The answer is that there is no answer – that is, the most efficient set of exercises for any individual is constantly changing.

Our exercise routines must be frequently changing to maximize efficiency. Developing cardiovascular fitness quickly and efficiently requires a combination of aerobic work and resistance training while maintaining a state of muscle confusion. Aerobic training consists of walking, running, and workouts using a treadmill or elliptical machine. Resistance training can be achieved using your own body weight with yoga poses and stretching, or with similar moves incorporating dumbbells or resistance bands.

Our bodies are very good at adapting to exercise, and finding the most efficient ways to perform repetitive motions. When our bodies grow accustomed to our exercise routines, we benefit less from the exercise. The key is to be constantly changing our exercise routines, which may be accomplished by changing the order of exercises performed, duration and intensity of each type of exercise, and by introducing new exercises. Varying degrees of intensity are also called HIIT, for high-intensity interval training, which increases your metabolism better than steady work. If you find yourself slogging away in treadmill purgatory – then stop – you need interval training, where you are either focused on the demands of exercise or busy catching your breath during a relief interval.

I have enjoyed exercise programs/videos including Bar Method, Pilates, P90X, and insanity.

These videos can be purchased reasonably and allow workouts to be performed at home, such that gym memberships are unnecessary and the weather becomes a non-issue. I agree with the recommendation that about 150 minutes of exercise per week is ideal. This is most easily accomplished by exercising for 30 minutes, five times weekly. It’s helps tremendously to plan workouts in advance while refusing to cheat. I suggest being fully engaged in a workout, so avoiding reading magazines or other distractions while doing your cardio.

Use a dynamic warmup to increase flexibility and avoid injuries.

Remember to use HITT or sprint sequences during your 30 minutes of exercise. Ignore that voice in your head that tells you to slow down, take a break, or just flat-out quit. Fitness is a discipline. Learn to embrace the work.

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