Going to the gym can often be very intimidating especially for beginners, but with a little background knowledge it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s start with cardio!
First you need to know that cardiovascular exercise is necessary for a well-rounded physical activity routine. The frequency of your cardio workouts alongside strength, mobility and flexibility training will depend on your fitness level, general health and of course, your schedule. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the average healthy adult get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise. These general guidelines could be met by participating in 50 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise 3x a week or 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity 5x a week.
For beginners, Certified Personal Trainer and Health Advisor Mary Delmer recommends, “begin with ten minutes of low impact, moderate cardiovascular exercise and gradually build up your time. Also, keep in mind that gradually building frequency per week as well as intensity can lessen risk of injury and better prepare your heart and lungs for the demand during exercise.”
Those with chronic or serious medical conditions should always seek medical clearance prior to starting a regular exercise routine.
Now that you know how to get started, let’s take a look at the top five basic cardiovascular equipment that you might see when you walk into your gym.
Most of you know this as old faithful. Unlike some of the other cardio equipment highlighted below, the treadmill enables you to go through the normal range of motion with your body whether you walk, jog or sprint. Most treadmills have a simple START and STOP button to get you started manually. The added benefit of adjusting your speed and incline (and sometimes decline) simply makes this piece of equipment one of the most efficient and easy to use.
TRAINER TIP: Do your best to practice walking slowly on the treadmill without holding on to reap all of its benefits.
2. The Bike
Ok, so I’m generalizing here, so keep in mind when you walk into the gym you may notice different types of bikes. There could be a spin bike, upright bike, airdyne bike, recumbent and more. The upright bike looks most like the bike you may have learned to ride when you were a child, while a spin bike looks similar to the bikes sported by famous cyclists like Lance Armstrong. The recumbent bike provides you with a seat that forces your legs more out in front of you and your hands rested by your side, whereas the airdyne is like the upright bike with handles that move back and forth. The good thing about a bike is it offers a low impact exercise option that still urges resistance and speed for those of you seeking a more intense round of cardio.
This piece of equipment comes in various colors and sizes but always stands out from its counterparts. The elliptical is a stand-in piece of equipment with flat platform pedals for each foot that is often accompanied by handles that move back and forth (not always). Though the machine has been widely accepted in many gyms, it is not the most ergonomic or efficient for the body in movement. Nonetheless, the elliptical remains an excellent piece of equipment for those of you seeking a low impact cardio workout alternative to the bike.
4. Row Machine
This piece of equipment will likely be self-explanatory and obvious when you set your eyes on it. Close to the ground, the rower has a small seat that moves back and forth on a straight metal bar as you pull and release the chained bar attachment. The chain normally cycles through a circular apparatus at the front of the machine which controls the resistance of your pulley, making your workout intensity easy to difficult. This machine provides an efficient total body workout!
5. Stair Climber
Either sporting two flat foot pedals or a circulated wheel of stairs, the stair climber stands out just like the row machine. This machine offers various speeds and levels of resistance which can make your workout easy to difficult. The upside to the stair climber is that it offers lower impact cardio (in terms of the “landing”) in comparison to activities like running. However, as suggested by Delmer, “those with severe knee trouble or previous knee related injuries should take precaution when using stairs period, this includes the stair climber. “
The benefits of cardio are endless: learn more here.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey