Regular physical activity is one of the keys to staying healthy. Exercise is especially important for college students, who are often under a lot of pressure academically and socially.
To get the most out of exercising, it is necessary to elevate your heart rate and sustain it for at least 20 minutes. Activities that accomplish this goal are considered cardio workouts. They have been proven to relieve stress, as well as anxiety and other symptoms of depression. You might achieve greater confidence and emotional balance.
Cardio also aids efforts to lose weight and become more fit. These are goals shared by many college students, who typically eat a fair amount of junk food and perhaps drink a few beers. Cardio workouts can make you more resilient to illness, disease, and injury. Regular, intense exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Another benefit is growing muscles without adding fat. Increased strength and agility have been attributed to cardio. It is an effective way to keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check, as well.
The average adult should take part in activities that provide about one-half hour of cardio per day, according to U.S. government health officials. You may choose from among numerous types of workouts.
In Your Room
The weather could make exercising outdoors difficult, and perhaps you would rather avoid the cost or social dynamics of a gym. Fortunately, there are cardio exercises you can try in the privacy of your dorm room.
Some workouts do not even require any equipment. They include running in place, jumping jacks, core-power yoga, belly dancing, aerobics, and climbing stairs. Other exercises recommended by fitness trainers and others are squat jumps, leaping into the air from a crouched position; burpees, jumping from a squat to a plank position, then jumping back and standing; “mountain climbing,” working the knees forward and back while in a push-up position; bear crawls, moving from a squat to pushup position, then walking the hands back and standing; and kickboxing, punching and kicking a bag, other object, or the air.
Many types of home-exercise equipment are on the market. You have probably seen the late-night Bowflex commercials on television. Treadmills and stationary bicycles are among the most popular kinds of equipment. Others include elliptical trainers, weight machines, resistance bands, and free weights. Some manufacturers give the impression that their devices can magically transform your body. Understand that you will see results only if you are willing to commit the necessary time and effort.
In the Great Outdoors
Exercising outside provides the added benefit of fresh air and sunshine. Running is one of the most common cardio techniques. Maintaining adequate speed for long enough distances can produce the elevated heart rate you need. However, running can be hard on your feet and legs. Alternatives that place less strain on the body are jogging, power walking, and hiking. You might want to combine periods of walking and running during an outing.
Other outdoor workouts include bicycling, golf, tennis, and playing in the yard with the dog or the kids. However, it could be difficult to achieve enough exertion for such activities to qualify as cardio. If it snows frequently where you are going to school, consider buying or renting cross-country skis, snowshoes, or boots. Just hiking through heavy snow is an intense form of exercise. Shoveling snow is also sure to get the blood pumping.
At a Gym
You might be unable or unwilling to spend money on expensive home-exercise equipment. Elliptical trainers, rowing machines, and other devices are also available at gyms and fitness centers. Because these facilities offer a variety of equipment, you can try various models to see which ones are right for you.
Many students who go to gyms find that they benefit from the advice they receive from fitness experts, other customers, and fellow students. Gyms are social environments, where people have at least a few things in common. They are all trying to improve their health and get into better shape.
You may be able to find a gym, spa, or fitness center that has a running track, tennis court, basketball court, or swimming pool. Some businesses require annual membership fees, while others let you pay on a per-visit basis. Take advantage of recreational facilities on campus, especially if you are at a large university where multiple options are available.
Before deciding which kind of cardio workout to try, have a good understanding of your physical capabilities. Consider not only your fitness goals, but also your age, health issues, strength, and mobility. Your gender may be another factor. For instance, authorities say aerobics, jogging, running, and using a treadmill are particularly valuable for women.
It is recommended that you tell a doctor or other medical provider about your workout plans. Get a checkup and some professional advice. You want to make sure that your exercises do not cause pain or injury. Warm up and stretch before starting, and initially do short workouts. You can make them longer and more energetic as your strength and endurance build. Don’t overdo it, or you may find yourself in worse shape than before. It’s a good idea to vary workouts, to benefit different muscles and prevent excessive strain on any of them.
Determine your optimal heart rate during cardio. Subtract your age from 220. Seventy percent of the resulting figure is the number of heart beats per minute you should strive to attain. This is the rate at which calories and fat are believed to burn most effectively.
Deciding upon the best kind of cardio workouts for you is the first step. The hard part is devoting yourself to regular exercise. You will not experience the results you seek without putting in the work. If you make the effort, better health and a fitter body may be among the rewards. You also might feel less stressed, more confident, and even happier.