Cardio exercises are by far the most beneficial exercises for long-term health and it’s not just for weight loss. Studies have shown that an effective cardio program, can help you get more out of life especially for many of us who lead a sedentary job.
Cardio can help to increase your lung capacity, meaning you can get more oxygen to your limbs and brain more easily. It increases the strength of your heart and endurance, helping you perform throughout the day alert and ready.
The exercises can also stimulate metabolism, helping you flush out fats that can build up around the body and arteries. What’s more, it can provide endorphins to the brain to reset, helping to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
But before you get started with any cardio exercises, take our advice and remember that it is important to begin it slowly (Yes, despacito). We get it, you might think you have to move fast in order to get your heart rate up. But the key to cardio exercises is to pace yourself out. You want to strengthen your muscles, not damage your joints.
To make a start, here is a list of super simple cardio workout fit for absolute beginners. The exercises in this workout have been designed to work with different areas of your body, focusing on the large muscle group – these work the hardest and require more blood flow to function, which is why using them can accelerate your heart rate.
Let’s get started!
1. Jogging On The Spot
The simplest thing you can do to get your cardio working is to jog on the spot. This is easier to do than jogging outdoor or on a treadmill. You can do it inside the comfort of your home – away from the heat in summer and the cold in winter. Better yet, there’s no excuse for you to skip this exercise routine. It is a great way to loosen up the body and prepare your cardiovascular system to start working harder.
Things to take note:
- Make sure you bring your knees up, and keep your core engaged.
- Keep your hands and jaw loose, and make sure your neck is relaxed but supporting your head so it doesn’t wobble.
- Keep your chin up and forward, don’t close off your airways by looking at the floor.
- Lean your body slightly forward so you aren’t putting the stress on your back.
2. Jumping Jacks
Jumping Jacks are a great dynamic exercise that uses your muscles explosively. What’s more, because jumping jacks use both the arms and legs, the cardio benefit is higher, faster.
- Start with your arms by your sides, feet together.
- Jump up and land with your legs apart, just wider than your shoulders.
- At the same time, raise your hands to the sky in a half-circle.
- Jump back, bringing your feet together and your hands back to your sides, making sure to land softly with a little flex in the knees.
3. High Knees
High Knees are another dynamic movement that uses the thighs, quads, and core – three major muscle groups. What’s more, the explosive movement allows for great turn over, so you can perform the move at a high speed.
- Jog on the spot.
- Put your arms by your side, then bend them at the elbows to put your palms out facing down, just above the hips.
- Engage your core, and lift with your center to bring your knees up above the hips, lightly touching your palms.
- Be careful not to lean back and put the stress of the move into your lower back – keep forward
4. Mountain Climbers
Mountain Climbers build on high knees by incorporating arm movements into the move. This makes them more demanding on your cardiovascular system.
Things to take note:
- As you perform high knees, lift your hand on the opposite side and reach to for the sky, as if reaching up to a mountain side and gripping the face. Run on the spot, knees coming above the hips, hands reaching above the head.
- Raise your eyes to imagine the mountain face, and be careful not to lean back – if this were a mountain side, you’d fall off!
Mountain Climbers will increase the cardio requirement of the move and help you elevate your heart rate while loosening up the shoulders and arms.
5. Plank Knee Twists
Plank knee twists enable you to engage the core and shoulders while still getting great cardio from constant movement. This full body movement will increase the intensity by using the large muscle groups in your upper body in a sustained way.
- Get into a high plank position, legs together, toes on the floor, knees straight, back straight, hands underneath the shoulders, arms straight so the wrists, elbows, and shoulders are all aligned – this will probably be a little further forward than you are comfortable with.
- Engage the core, and bring the right knee toward the left elbow, then take it back. Bring the left knee to the right elbow, then take it back. Start slow with a gap between each, then start to ‘hop’ into the movements, so only one foot is ever on the floor.
- As you speed up, allow the hips to rotate slightly to make the diagonal movement of the knee easier.
6. Bent Over Twist
The bent over twist will allow you to start cooling down and recovering from the cardio you’ve been doing while working the intercostal muscles, mid-back, and hamstrings all at once.
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, legs straight.
- Put your arms above your head and bend at the center, keeping your butt up and keeping your back flat, head looking down at the floor.
- Bring your arms out to either side, then reach for the outside of your left foot with your right hand. Return to center, then reach for the outside of the right foot with your left hand.
- Keep the core engaged, and try to increase your speed over time, making your movement swift but controlled
When you’re finished, put your hands on the floor and stretch out your back and hamstrings
How to Use The List
Start your workout by picking 4 to 5 moves from the list and perform each exercise for about 60 seconds with a 30 seconds rest interval. Complete 2 to 3 rounds, and be sure to warm up first and cool down after.
One last tip, try working out at the same time every day, and soon you will get into a habit. It may be tough at first, but once you get your gears rolling, you’ll be healthier than ever!