You’ve always been told to get regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise. But it can be hard to get out for a jog or into a gym with any regularity. If you’re pressed for time, though, there are plenty of ways to get in cardio workouts at home to benefit your body. These workouts can help support your heart and lung function, boosting your overall health and longevity.
Skipping cardio is not a good idea. Let’s quickly examine why…
Why are Cardio Workouts So Important?
Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is a measure of your body’s ability to supply oxygen to your muscles. It is essentially a measure of the health of your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and your overall health is directly affected by your CRF.
A lack of physical activity can have detrimental effects on your health, and especially the health of your heart and lungs.
However, good cardiorespiratory fitness is believed to affect longevity by improving:
- Blood pressure
- Blood lipid profile
- Insulin sensitivity
- Body composition (weight/body fat)
- Overall heart health1
So, how can you improve your CRF? Read on…
8 Easy Cardio Workouts for Cardiovascular Health and Longevity
Before you launch into a new exercise regimen, talk to your doctor. Each person’s needs can vary, especially if you have any health condition that may affect your ability to do certain exercises. You don’t want to overdo things, especially at the outset.
How much exercise is enough to help promote good health? It is recommended to get about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise weekly or around 75 minutes of vigorous activity.
As a general guideline, you should aim for about 30 minutes of exercise daily. Again, this can vary with each individual. So, talk with your doctor about your specific needs regarding any major lifestyle changes like diet and/or exercise.
Walking is great aerobic exercise. While it is a low-impact aerobic workout, you can still get your heart rate up and burn calories with this kind of exercise. For added intensity, you can add weights to your ankles.
In studies, walking has shown to have similar health benefits as other kinds of aerobic exercise, even in patients who struggle with certain medical conditions. You can even stroll around your house, whether that be inside or outside. Just make sure that you get in at least 30 minutes of walking, along with a five-minute warm up and cool down.3
2. Elliptical Machine
Using an elliptical machine is a great cardio workout that also introduces resistance training. Elliptical training can also be a great workout to improve your lower body strength and improve your lean muscle mass.4
3. Tai Chi
The Chinese martial art of tai chi provides aerobic exercise, along with teaching you great self-defense techniques. It has also been found to be particularly beneficial for sedentary adults with lower-than-average levels of physical activity.5
Tai chi, like all exercise, can also have positive effects on your mental health. Utilizing a full range of fluid motion, breathing techniques for your lungs, coordination, a change of mental focus, and relaxation, this aerobic exercise has been used for mind-body health for thousands of years.6
You might not think of yoga as a cardio workout, but it’s actually a great way to support cardiorespiratory fitness. This can be an ideal workout for older people, as it puts less stress on the joints.7 Strength training that improves flexibility is also great for an aging body, and yoga can help with range of motion in daily life.8
If yoga isn’t your thing, then pilates may be a great alternative. This type of exercise is particularly beneficial for supporting core strength and joint flexibility. Pilates has been found to help maintain heart and lung function in individuals who have suffered conditions that can affect cardio health.9
6. Step Aerobics
Step aerobics is a specific type of aerobics that involves stepping up and down on a raised platform. This is another great way to get in cardio workouts right in your own home, and step aerobics can be tailored to be low-impact. There are countless step aerobics videos you can purchase to do at home, or you can find free resources online. Studies show step aerobics can help support functional fitness in older female populations.10
7. Ballroom Dancing
Ballroom dancing requires a great deal of fluidity, coordination, flexibility, and balance. However, every move can be scaled down to fit your current abilities. Have fun with this one and don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Dancing is known to support physical fitness and can have other benefits, as well. It can help to develop social skills, in turn, benefiting mental health.11 This is great for aging individuals who may not get out and socialize as they did in their younger years.
You don’t have to take professional dance classes to learn ballroom dancing. There are plenty of free instructional videos you can watch at home.
8. Strength Training
While strength training, itself, isn’t technically an aerobic workout, it can significantly improve cardiovascular performance in older populations, especially men, when used alongside cardio workouts.12 Aging bodies can lose a great deal of strength. Did you know that by the time you are 80, you’ve likely lost about half the strength you had as a young person? 13
Make sure you talk with your doctor about your specific needs and/or limitations when it comes to strength training, especially if you’re older. It’s also never a bad idea to incorporate a licensed personal trainer into your routine if you’re doing strength training, especially at first. A trainer can help you determine the amount of weight you need to use to get optimal results.
Healthy Cardio Workouts for Longevity
Cardio workouts are important for everyone. You do, however, want to make sure you talk with your doctor about the exercises you are doing, to ensure they are adequate and appropriate for your needs.
Exercise can benefit far more than just your cardiovascular and respiratory health, as well. Study after study has shown a link between physical fitness and mental health. The scientific and medical communities have recognized the positive effects that exercise can have on your mood.14
So, make cardio workouts part of your regular routine, for your physical health, your mental health, and to support your overall longevity!
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