Are you getting into the swing of your New Year’s resolution? Many people are heading to the gym this time of year to lose weight or get into shape. Gyms and fitness centers provide a variety of options for cardiovascular and strength training to reach those new goals. Always remember to warm up and stretch prior to and following a workout session to avoid injury. Below are some examples of ways to add variety to your cardiovascular workout:
Treadmill: The treadmill is a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories, while getting the benefits of weight bearing which is good for healthy bones. Treadmills allow you to vary your workouts by letting you walk, jog, or run. You can also change the incline to simulate hill climbing. Some treadmills offer pre-programmed options to achieve certain goals or simulate trails across the world. The disadvantage of a treadmill is possible injury due to impact on your joints.
Elliptical: The elliptical provides less stress to your joints due to decreased weight bearing and impact and provides a great cardiovascular workout. Increasing the resistance and incline (cross ramp) increases the intensity of your workout while helping you burn more calories. You can also target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings with a higher incline (cross ramp). Some ellipticals offer moveable handles that provide an upper body workout as well.
Bike: A recumbent or stationary bike allows you to bring your cycling indoors. Riding a bike allows you to get a cardiovascular workout without putting as much impact on your joints. Varying your speed and resistance with different intervals of time can help you burn more calories.
Aquatic Exercise: Other exercises besides swimming in a pool include walking, performing resisted exercises, and attending aquatic aerobic exercise classes. Exercises in the water decreases the impact on your joints due to buoyancy decreasing the amount of weight bearing on your joints. The higher you are immersed in the water the less weight bearing that occurs on your joints. In addition, buoyancy also makes your body lighter, which makes it easier to move. Other benefits of water include decreased swelling (edema) in your legs and decreased heart rate with exercise as compared to land exercise due to the hydrostatic pressure. The water is also a good environment to work on improving your balance due to increased proprioceptive awareness from the water. You can add resistance in the water by using noodles, dumb bells, paddles, and water ankle weights.
Whichever workout options you choose make sure to choose the ones that are right for you. Also start slowly with any new workout to build up your tolerance.
Stacey Thompson, PTA