Cardio workouts are designed to increase your heart rate. The word “cardio” has just been shortened from cardiovascular and these workouts are also sometimes referred to as aerobic exercise.
The importance of cardio workouts for senior citizens cannot be understated. It should be part of a regular routine. There are many types of cardio exercises and they can be done both with training equipment or without.
Increasing Your Heart Rate
Cardio workouts are great exercise for your heart and lungs. The heart is a muscle and can be strengthened just like any other muscle in our body.
The main goal is to raise your heart rate to a targeted zone and then maintain any activity you are doing for a minimum of ten (10) minutes. Once you have become accustomed to your workout it is possible to gradually increase to at least thirty (30) minutes or more.
Most cardio machines these days come with a heart rate monitor or reader or if not using a machine most of the wearable trackers such as Fitbit also have a monitor. You should never get your heart rate above the maximum beats per minute which is figured by subtracting your age from 220.
Your targeted heart rate for low to moderate intensity should be 50 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate. The target for high intensity or vigorous exercise should be 70 to 85 per cent of your maximum heart rate.
For example if you are 60 years old: 220-60 = 160 – 160 X .05 = 80 160 X .07= 112 The targeted heart rate for moderate exercise then would be from 80 to 112. For high intensity exercise the targeted heart rate would be as follows:
160 X .70 = 112 160 X .85 = 136 From 112 to 136 for a vigorous workout.
While being very similar, aerobic and cardio are usually mentioned interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference in the terms. Aerobic focuses on the lungs and the basic requirement of oxygen to supply the energy demands during prolonged exercise.
Cardio is obviously more focused on the heart and reaching a targeted heart rate to get blood flowing and arteries expanded. The lungs and heart are both vital organs and need to be healthy so whether it is aerobics or cardio, you are helping to keep them as healthy as possible.
Aerobic like cardio can sometimes involve using light resistance as long you continue maintaining the activity for more than 10 minutes. Some examples are light two to three pound weights, body weight exercises are becoming very popular where you use you own weight as resistance, and even an incline treadmill or tread climber offers resistance.
Cardio and aerobic exercise are excellent at producing endurance and a long and sustained regimen of these types of exercise will help you to remain physically fit.
A Regular Routine
One of the main things with cardio or any type of workout to improve your health is being consistent. When it becomes part of your normal routine you will begin to see the improvements get better and better. You can lose weight if needed, lower your blood pressure, increase lung capacity, and also reduce risks of diabetes and heart attack.
While being consistent is important, it is also important not to overdo it. When thinking of making this part of your routine you should be thinking of 3 to 4 times a week alternating some low impact and high intensity workouts. If you are just beginning your regimen I advise to start with the minimum 10 minutes and gradually working up to 30 minutes or more if low impact.
Just like in strength training our body needs time to recover from the exertion. Do not overwork your heart and lungs.
If you have trouble being consistent you can always put post it notes on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door. An even better idea would be a small affirmation board.
Types of Cardio Exercises
I mentioned earlier the types of cardio workouts. They are HIIT – or high intensity interval training and low intensity. Either one will help you burn calories, losing weight and more importantly body fat.
Low Intensity Workouts – If you are just beginning a workout routine and are starting with low impact, I would suggest to start with planks, moving to push-ups from your knees, and then doing chair squats. This should get you close to 10 minutes but you can always repeat the same steps over again. Remember the object is to get your heart rate to the targeted area.
Some other low impact exercise is just brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, Pilates, Tai Chi, and if you can handle stairs then going up stairs several times will get your heart beating faster!
All the previous exercises mentioned can be done with no equipment. If you have access to a fitness center where you live then by all means a stationary bike, Elliptical machine, rowing, and a tread climber take the stress off of your ankles and legs but provides an excellent workout.
HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training –
There are some seniors in excellent health that will be able to do some high intensity impact training, however this should first be discussed and approved by your health practitioner.
High intensity is usually rotated with some low intensity exercises and a cooling down period.
I previously mentioned doing cardio workouts three to four times a week but if you are also doing strength training then you might only need one or two cardio workouts in order to allow recovery time for your body.
The best high intensity workouts that will melt away fat are: elliptical machine, stair climber, swimming, running, and jumping rope. Almost all the cardio machines these days are programmable for either high or low intensity workouts.
Adding years to our life expectancy is a multi-faceted undertaking. Being physically fit is an important part of that process.
As we get older, staying active by involving a fitness program, healthy and wholesome diet, proper supplementation, as well as taking care of our mind and spiritual being can give us that boost to achieve our goal.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments below.