Cardiorespiratory exercise is good for you because your body is designed for movement. The amount of movement, the level of effort and how often you move are the details that make the simple statement a lot less clear.
Since the ‘90s our Surgeon Generals have been producing parameters on the dosage of cardio exercise that we should be getting and those guidelines have continued to change. One could assume that those changing recommendations are due to an increase in our data and understanding of the research, but even in 1996 it was clear that 30 cumulative minutes most days of the week was the bare minimum for any health benefit. Which means that it was the minimum amount that could be done to realize a decreased possibility of disease. Note that this is not about improving your health, it is about “staving off disease”.
For health improvements, the recommendations increase and that is also seen in the set guidelines from subsequent Surgeon Generals. These guidelines illustrate that there is a dose-response relationship and that your body will adapt to the demands you ask of it. Great, but also, to be clear, it will adapt only to the demands you ask of it.
Exercise recommendations for the dose of cardio depend on the goals that you want to achieve and are categorized by Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type (F.I.T.T.). By determining the adaptations you want your body to make, you can then determine the demands you will be placing on your body through these categories.
For instance, I believe that your body should move every day for a minimum of 20 minutes at a sustained low intensity: F = daily; I = low; T = 20 minutes; T = walking.
If we were planning a goal to start a program toward decreasing body fat, then you would need to add to that minimum by increasing some intensity and duration: F = daily (3 + 4); I= 3 low + 4 moderate-high; T= 3 @ 20 minutes + 4 @ 30 minutes; T = 3 walking + 2 biking + 2 running.
This structuring provides a foundation for programming and is all dependent on the individual and that is in part why the industry, and Surgeon General’s, recommendations change. Your body needs to be challenged with intensity to adapt to intensity, but that message can too often have a negative response where people feel that it just isn’t worth doing anything.
But that is a complete misuse of all the exercise knowledge that we have because that knowledge is limited to the metrics we know how to assess. There is no substitute for movement. Your body needs to move. You know how much better you feel when you move. So, regardless of the goal-oriented programs that we may develop and work on at different times to achieve specific goals, keep moving.
And, as always, let me know how I can help.
A POP TO THE STEADY STATE
Tami and Carla here!
We were talking about ways that we enhance our cardio experience, and decided to share some of our tips with you this month as we turn our focus to the Cardio Key. Adding a little flavor to a habit can help us stick with it, and here are some ways we can do that for ourselves...
When we do cardio as a habit, there are ways we can bolster the experience that sometimes feels monotonous. One of the ways I do that is through music. I really enjoy pop music during cardio.
The list grows every time I hear something that feels like a fit or someone suggests a song, and that keeps it fresh.
I’m going to hit shuffle on the playlist and give you a few selections from my “Pop Cardio” playlist: (Fair warning, likely some explicit content)
Electricity - Silk City
Paper Rings - Taylor Swift
Lights - Ellie Goulding
Good as Hell - Lizzo
Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels - Todrick Hall
2U - David Guetta
Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis
What’s Up Danger - Blackway
Time - Alesso
A Million Dreams - Pink
In addition to the very powerful support of a well curated audio selection, I have given myself the freedom to ‘cardio like nobody is watching!’(because it’s true) Essentially what I am saying is I play around with your very important, but sometimes low-luster cardio practice.
It’s easy to throw some common-core foot work drills in a walk or jog session(sometimes called agility...but YOU call the pace). For the foot-in-place cardio (bike, EFX or rowing), well there’s a chance to sing, dance, sing and dance.
Dramatic song expression while your feet are secured to a piece of exercise equipment can
provide one heck of a pick-me-up.
Lastly you can go the way of the Sweeds and go for a Fartlek session. Roughly translated,
Fartlek means 'speed play'. Varying the ‘speed’--fast pace, or a more measuerd pace--and ‘play’ string together random segments, longer or shorter, more incline, less incline, more resistance less resistance till you complete your cardio session. I think Fartlek training host one of my favorite exercise continuum’s where you find performance on one end and play on the other.
Let’s hit shuffle on the idea list “cardio like nobody’s watching.”
Foot work diversions (drills):
High Knees: swing your arms and concentrate on the height of the knees.
Going Backwards: forwards, but playfully, and in reverse.
Butt Kicks: It’s an idea more than an actual directive.
The Grapevine: a fun side-step where you cross one step in front of the other and then switch.
Side to Side: foot to foot, back and forth
Not only is this not boring, it takes your body through more planes of movement, and all of this takes the soul to JOY!
Now we have to get back to our cardio and our community sing along: WE ARE THE
CHAMPIONS, by Queen, Join us at the top of your lungs!
Carla and Tami