Health: Fitness first

The skinny on cardio Last week I promised to start out this series by explaining each of the four ‘pieces’ of a balanced life—cardiovascular, diet, flexibility and strength. I have decided to focus on cardio first because, if done properly, cardio is the centre of a healthy life. Cardiovascular fitness is a fancy term for physical activity. This includes everything from walking, running, swimming and gym tonic to sports that include repetitive movement (table tennis and poker players…you’re out of luck).

The skinny on cardio

Last week I promised to start out this series by explaining each of the four ‘pieces’ of a balanced life—cardiovascular, diet, flexibility and strength. I have decided to focus on cardio first because, if done properly, cardio is the centre of a healthy life.

Cardiovascular fitness is a fancy term for physical activity. This includes everything from walking, running, swimming and gym tonic to sports that include repetitive movement (table tennis and poker players…you’re out of luck).

Cardio is important for two reasons.

First, it is the most important component of weight loss. For all those of you interested in getting rid of that belly, it does not matter how many sit ups you do, without cardio you won’t lose weight.

Second, it contributes to a healthy heart and circulatory system. The heart is the strongest and most important muscle in the body.

Cardio builds its strength and durability. That is why staying fit with cardio can help prevent heart attacks and strokes and contribute to a longer life.

So, choose an activity you enjoy and get moving. The most important thing about cardio is keeping your heart rate up for between 20-30 minutes 3-5 times per week.

For the older set between 45-60 that means between 16-18 heartbeats per 10 seconds. For the younger between 18-34 that means 18-21 heartbeats per 10 seconds.

You can measure your heart rate by placing your fingers gently on your inner wrist or below you jaw line on your neck. If you are above this rate, or are out of breath when you exercise….STOP.

Too much cardio can put too much stress on the heart. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after working out. If you have heart pains, dizziness, fainting or are obese it is best to consult a doctor as you decide on your exercise regime.

Amity Weiss is a professional personal trainer from America living in Kigali.

Contact: Amity—weiss@yahoo.com

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