When you want to find the best cardio activity for you, consider your personal preferences as well as your body. If you hate getting hot and sweaty during a workout, then running is probably not for you. If you like trying new workouts that keep you engaged and entertained, consider an instructor-led belly dancing class.
People who prefer to exercise alone should probably just avoid the gym during busy hours. If you have bad joints, avoid high impact classes like step aerobics and kick boxing. Everyone is different, not just in personality but in body as well, and that can mean great things in terms of workouts. There is a huge variety of exercises that burn serious calories and you’re sure to find one that appeals to you.
To burn fat and reshape your body, you can’t beat cardiovascular exercise. Getting your heart pumping and boosting your metabolism is what cardio does best, and it’s the only surefire way to lose weight and get rid of fat. Some cardiovascular activities burn more calories than others and speed up fat loss while reshaping the body, and that makes them good choices for people who are serious about losing weight and improving aerobic capacity. Looking at the top 5 cardiovascular activities, there is great variety while all maintaining the same purpose of burning major fat and calories.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
Swimming should be the king of all workouts for its user-friendly status and low stress on the body. If you fit in three 45-minute swimming workouts every week, you will see major changes in your body in just two to three weeks. Your body becomes buoyant in the water, meaning that it is supported by the water and does not have to depend on the muscles nearly as much. If you just stand still in the pool, your muscles will have very little to do, but when you start swimming at a brisk pace your muscles become involved with pushing your body through the water – not an easy task.
That’s why swimming burns so many calories; the muscles work almost twice as hard as in land workouts and torch up to three times as many calories. Challenge yourself by swimming one lap breaststroke, one lap backstroke, and still another lap butterfly. Freestyle is good but you burn far more calories when you mix it up and challenge the body to respond.
Water aerobics offer the same support as swimming but instead of propelling your body from one end of the pool to another you stand in place in the water and use the water’s resistance to build muscle and burn calories. Water aerobics frequently use accessories for strengthening workouts but if you don’t have any, don’t worry! Just go to your pool and perform the same toning exercises that you would do in the gym.
Squats, lunges, leg lifts – when done under water, these movements become more challenging and require muscles to work harder, resulting in a higher calorie. The best part is that the support of the water cuts the stress on joints and can help people with arthritis and other joint disorders to get exercise back in their lives.
Power Walking (at home)
A power walking life up to its name and requires you to put out a lot more power than a stroll around the block. In power walking, you swing your arms back and forth as you walk briskly – this helps to burn calories as well as propel you through your walk faster. Increasing the speed will boost your calorie burn even higher. An excellent variation for a power walking routine is to add arm movements a few days per week. As you walk briskly, raise your arms overhead and bring back down to the pace of your walk. This can seriously raise your heart rate and increase your fat burn.
Power Walking (at the gym)
Power walking at the gym is as easy as hopping on the nearest programmable treadmill and setting off. If you are not sure how to program the treadmill, ask a trainer or knowledgeable friend to show you how. You should choose a walking route that includes inclines and changes to surprise and challenge your muscles. Most treadmills that offer these walking programs talk you through the route so that you are alarmed with the incline increases. Use the same variation from the home power walking and add arm movements to increase heart rate and calorie burn.
Belly dancing won’t burn quite as many calories as swimming or power walking, but for sheer fun and novelty this workout can’t be beat. Belly dancing has become wildly popular across the nation in the past few years and nearly all gyms offer at least one class for interested parties. You will work your hips, thighs and waistline in a typical class as well as increase your aerobic capacity. And who knows, your belly dancing skill might come in handy some day!
The most physical form of yoga is Ashtanga yoga, which uses the same traditional yoga poses but incorporates powerful aerobic conditioning at the same time. You will move quickly and powerfully in a fast-paced routine that is led by a certified instructor who is experienced in moves that boost your heart rate and burn the calories. Ashtanga yoga is still relatively new in some places and it may be difficult to find a class at first, but more and more gyms are offering classes. You can find Ashtanga videos at stores nationwide, so you may want to consider having your own private session at home.