You don’t have to be a gym rat, or even a gym mouse, to incorporate a successful cardio and weight training exercise plan into your routine. In fact, you can incorporate both in as few as three hours each week, MayoClinic.com says. Two more pluses for a cardio and weight training plan are the variety of exercises from which you have to choose and the rewards.
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Both cardio workouts and weight training offer plenty of rewards. Cardio improves your breathing capacity, which increases the function of your lungs, heart and blood vessels. An intense cardio workout can also burn off some hefty calories. Weight training increases your strength and muscle mass, something that dwindles with age. Increasing your strength gives you more endurance as well as increased bone density and continued joint flexibility.
Cardio workouts refer to aerobic activities that keep your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. Also known as endurance activity, cardio workouts use large muscle groups and increase the oxygen in your blood by making you breathe deeper and more fully. Cardio activities range from moderate, like walking, to vigorous, like group indoor cycling. Other cardio activities include bicycle riding, jogging, swimming, dancing and aerobic classes. Cardio also burns off calories and helps with losing weight.
Weight training, which uses weights as resistance to build strength, may actually make you gain weight, as muscle mass weighs more than fat. Don’t fret. Even if you end up weighing more than you did before you started, weight training also makes your body leaner and more streamlined. Weight training consists of a variety of weight lifting exercises using a weight that you can lift at least 12 times in a row without tiring your muscle. Despite old school training that insisted on multiple sets, MayoClinic.com says one set of 12 repetitions is sufficient to build muscle. Options include free weights, which are dumbbells or barbells, and weight training machines that often have pulleys attached to adjustable weights.
For best results, MayoClinic.com suggests spreading your cardio and weight training exercise over the course of a week, and aiming for between an overall goal of between two hours 15 minutes and three hours 30 minutes, depending on the type of aerobic activity you choose. Two and one-half hours of a moderate aerobic activity, like walking on a treadmill, or one hour and 15 minutes of an intense aerobic activity, like a fast jog, fills your weekly cardio quota. Opt for two or three weight training sessions per week, each lasting 20 to 30 minutes. Mix up your cardio activities to stave off boredom and work different muscle groups.
In addition to your regular cardio and weight training plan, you can include cardio and weights into your daily routine. Housework and chores often end up as cardio workouts, with tasks like vacuuming, raking and shoveling. Your day could also include high-intensity cardio activities, like bolting for the bus. You can also incorporate weight training into your daily routine by carrying your groceries to the car rather than using the shopping cart, loading and unloading heavy objects and working on heavy-duty landscaping or other home projects.