It's a key component of fitness – cardiovascular (cardio) workouts. But, many of us over 50 find it tedious, boring or just go about cardio mindlessly. And, if you need to get your cardio in at home, you may be frustrated with your options. It does not have to be a negative aspect of working out – read on for some advice and tips.
Some of us have a need to get part of our exercise at at home, and probably the easiest and most affordable method of home exercise will be cardiovascular. There are a lot of ways to do this and one of the easiest and cheapest methods is just to walk or run in your neighborhood. However, depending upon where you live, there may be little appeal to outdoor exercise because of weather (eg, too hot, humid, too cold, too much snow, etc.)
For indoor cardio there are many options from exercise DVDs to exotic equipment. I have 2 personal preferences, a treadmill and a rower, both of which I believe are excellent choices for people over 50. I happened to own both, the rower purchased used, and I like them both for different reasons. The treadmill allows me to walk (or run, but did I mention that I hate running?) At various inclines, depending on my objective. And as a bonus I can multi-task by catching up on the news or sports at the same time. In fact, if I walk at only about 3 mph I can even read a magazine.
A few years back during the football season I decided to try to burn off some body fat. I switched from eating cheese and pretzels and drinking beer while watching an entire game from the couch (yes, I was somewhat of a couch potato at times) to watching at least one half of the game while on the treadmill.
I spent about two hours on the treadmill walking about 3.3 mph at different inclines, and I still got to enjoy some good games. Along the way, I lost 12 pounds during the football season and reduced my body fat composition by 3%. Oh, by the way, during the second half of the game I did have a couple brews with little gouda and Snyder's fat free pretzels – just not as many as I'd normally have. What a combo: treadmill, cheese, pretzels and beer. For me it was a great program! I enjoyed both halves of the game and l met my fitness goals as well!
The rower I like for a totally different reason; I get more of a total body workout while getting some cardio. We'll speak more specifically to the benefits of the rower in another chapter of Fitness Advisors, but for now I'll turn it over to Ron the Trainer to give you a brochure and more expert perspective of cardio at home.
You know, everyone needs to find a "hook" – that is, something that will work for them, especially when you plan to get your cardio workout at home – it's so easy to walk past the equipment or sit down to take care of something else in your life.
When doing cardio training, you have to invest at least 30-60 minutes, at target heart rate, four to six times per week to be really effective. So, you'll be tying up 100-400 + minutes per week – a big investment for some of us! So, make it convenient and make it something you'll enjoy – a brisk, long walk in the neighborhood or at the park, watching the news while on your favorite treadmill or elliptical trainer or, as Bob recommended, a bout with the rower.
I will go onto say that if you can read or carry on a detailed conversation, you might want to kick up the pace a little – get the maximum calorie and fat burn for the time you invest in your cardio. For someone over 50, your heart rate should be between 110-130 beats per minute for the most effective cardio workout.
Or, you may choose to take up outdoor cycling – a very popular activity. And many of us over 50 still like stationary bikes in front of a TV so, if that will definitely work for you – that could be your "hook."
But remember to vary your cardio occasionally – do something different to keep your body guessing what you'll be asking from it next. Varying your cardio might consist of one day a great workout on a treadmill, the next a really brisk walk in the neighborhood. Follow that up with a dance-format with your Wii or a kickboxing DVD in your living room.
With a varied program, you'll see better results! Keep your workouts rich and meaningful and keep working out to improve your 50+ fitness.