Cardiorespiratory training (Cardio for short) has many health benefits and as little as 10-20 minutes a day can:

Give you a stronger heart

Reduce your risk of heart disease

Lowering cholesterol levels (so you can eat more bacon … just kidding!)

Reduce blood pressure.

Improve mental alertness

Improve your sleep (yes, sleep!)

Improve your tolerance for stress and silly people at work.

Reduce your risk of getting diabetes

ยท … and 50 other benefits that are too good to be true!

While it is such a beneficial form of training, it can be difficult to determine what to do and what all the options are available to you. Well, imagination is the limit, but let me describe a few different modes of training for you to put in your toolbox.

1. Let’s start with the basics: Walking! While walking might not be technically defined as true cardiovascular training, no one can deny the benefits of walking; after all, as human beings, it is what we are supposed to do. Walking is a great way to start physical activity and best of all; you can go at your own pace. A good goal to reach is between 20 and 40 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week.

Here are some additional tips that are just for you! Want to further engage your rear end while walking? Then take quick, short steps instead of long steps to get your glutes working. Also, walking is a time to relax. Forget about the problems of the day and enjoy your surroundings.

2. Steady state training: This is where you choose your favorite gear (treadmill, bike, rollerblades, your own feet) and just work at a steady pace at a low or moderate intensity over a period of time. Since this is not high intensity, you can generally do this for longer periods and is great for beginners who aren’t ready or just don’t like high intensity exercise.

3. Aerobic interval training: This is not a high intensity workout, rather it uses intervals of moderate followed by low intensity recovery periods. For aerobic intervals, I would alternate running with recovery periods (walking, light jogging, etc.) rather than running / recovering as you would see in ANAEROBIC intervals. This type of training generally burns more calories and is more interesting than steady-state cardio.

Four. Anaerobic interval training: You may know this as HIIT or high intensity interval training and here you alternate between short bouts (15-60 seconds) of high intensity work followed by periods of recovery. The relationship between work and rest is up to you and your goals. If you are training for the sport, you will want to mimic the workload of your particular sport. For example, for hockey, you can work at high intensity for 15 seconds and then walk or jog for 30 seconds.

5. Anti-boredom training: Well, I made up that name. I don’t have a patent yet, so feel free to use the term freely. This is also known as multimode training, and it simply consists of using different equipment throughout your exercise session so you don’t get bored. For example, you could start by doing 10 minutes on an elliptical machine, followed by 10 minutes on a bike, and then 10 minutes on … well, whatever. If you don’t have gear on hand, go to the park with the kids and play 10 minutes of frisbee, 10 minutes on the seesaw, and 10 minutes realizing how much fun you are having … it all works!

6. Fartlek: I put this one on because I love saying the word; Fartlek, Fartlek Fartlek !! This is a Swedish term that means “fast game”. It has elements of interval training but is not structured in terms of work / rest ratio. Here you can use any combination of work / rest timing. An example would be selecting 2-, 4-, and 6-minute workouts on multiple machines by changing their intensity and duration in a random order. You can configure it like this:

Session 1: treadmill (2 minutes), elliptical trainer (4 minutes), bicycle (6 minutes)

Session 2: elliptical trainer (6 minutes), bicycle (4 minutes), treadmill (2 minutes)

Session 3: bike (4 minutes), treadmill (4 minutes), ergometer cycle (4 minutes)

During the 2-minute duration, you would work hard (a 15 on the perceived exertion scale; see the scale at the bottom of this page for reference); the 4 minute duration works somewhat hard (a 13 on the effort scale) and for the 6 minute duration use a light intensity (11-12 on the effort scale). Fartlek is fun because it adds variety and you can customize it however you want.

7. Split routine training: If you are short on time, this is the way to go. If you don’t have time to do a 30-40 minute cardio session at a time, you can break it up into 2 or more sessions during the day, maybe 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes after work. You still get great benefits from this type of training and some people say that they can work at a higher intensity when the sessions are shorter rather than a long one.

Now, answering questions from the audience: Yes, you are there, do you have your hand raised?

Q: What do I do if I’ve been doing cardio for a long time and I stop losing weight?

A: If you find yourself stuck, the key is progression. To keep getting better, you have to keep overloading your body. Let’s say you jog for 20 minutes a day 3 times a week. That’s a total of 60 minutes per week. A good progression scale to use is to increase your workload by 10% per week every week or two. So that means your first progression would be 66 minutes per week (or 22 minutes per day / 3 times per week) after a week or 2, then progress up to 72 minutes per week, then 79 … 86 … 94 and so on until all you do is run all day forever and always very similar to Forrest Gump. (but you really don’t get it right?)

So, I leave you with one last word … Fartlek ๐Ÿ™‚

Rate of perceived exertion on the BORG scale

  • 6 – 20% effort

  • 7-30% effort – Very, very light (Rest)

  • 8 – 40% effort

  • 9 – 50% effort – Very light – smooth ride

  • 10 – 55% effort

  • 11 – 60% effort – Fairly light

  • 12 – 65% effort

  • 13 – 70% effort – Somewhat hard – steady pace

  • 14 – 75% effort

  • 15 – 80% effort – Difficult

  • 16 – 85% effort

  • 17 – 90% effort – Very difficult

  • 18 – 95% effort

  • 19-100% effort – Very, very hard

  • 20 – Exhaustion