There are numerous benefits to regular cardiovascular exercise, such as strengthening your heart and helping your body protect itself from illness. Cardio burns calories and helps those needing to lose weight -- and it will keep you fit by increasing your stamina. Changing up your regular cardio routine is a great way to bust through a fitness plateau and keep from becoming bored.
The cardio session for day one is about consistency. On a treadmill, begin with a five- to 10-minute warm-up. Increase the incline to 2 percent and walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes. After completing this, raise your incline to 4 or 5 percent and continue walking for 25 minutes. You should be able to continue a brisk pace without holding on to the rails. For the last 10 minutes decrease your incline to 2 percent and keep your speed the same. Once finishing the last 10 minutes, complete a five-minute cool down -- with zero incline -- to bring your heart rate down.
High intensity interval training is a great way to increase the intensity and calorie burn of any workout. Warm-up for 10 minutes by walking, biking or rowing using a casual pace. For the intense portion of this workout, a jump rope is needed. If jumping rope is too challenging then substitute with jumping jacks. Begin jumping rope and complete 200 consecutive jumps; if you stumble, get back into the rhythm and continue counting. After this, immediately complete 25 body weight squats at a moderate pace. Repeat this pattern a total of five times. Then cool down for 10 minutes with an easy walk.
When you enjoy an activity you are more likely to be consistent. Choose your favorite form of cardiovascular exercise and work out for 60 minutes. Walking, hiking, swimming laps, cycling, rowing, taking an aerobics class and even punch combinations using a heavy bag are all examples of productive cardio. Be sure to include both a warm-up and cool down.
On day four you need two to four different types of cardio. The purpose is to complete five minutes of intense cardio, then immediately move on to the next machine or activity. After your warm-up start your first five minutes. You can run uphill for five minutes then switch to the elliptical for five minutes using a difficult amount of resistance. If using machines, move from one piece of equipment to the next every five minutes. You may also alternate with two different sources of cardio. Complete four, five-minute bursts of cardio. Afterwards, walk for five minutes for your cool down.
An additional benefit of cardio can be sculpting and toning. While the goal of cardio is strengthening your heart and improving your health, certain forms of cardio help with shaping your body. Walking, running or jogging on an incline will fire-up your hamstrings, calves and glutes. On a treadmill, begin with a 10-minute warm-up. Then increase your incline to 5 percent. Focus on aligned posture and keeping your core engaged. After 15 minutes increase your incline to 8 percent. Remain at this incline for 20 minutes, then drop the incline to 2 percent and cool down for five minutes.