Cardio Exercise - Doing It At Home
We all know that exercise is an important factor for general health and for weight management. Weight management should help you to manage your own weight by looking at all of the different areas that affect our health and body, such as diet, exercise and whatever other aids you may be using to help with weight loss (e.g. medication).
Even if you’re taking medication to help with weight loss, exercise or increasing the amount of physical activity that you do each day will have a positive impact on your general health and increase the potential for further weight loss.
Whilst medication is an incredibly valuable tool in weight management, it is the age-old tried & tested methods such as diet, exercise and lifestyle changes that will help you keep the weight off in the long run.
For a lot of home workouts, there is a misconception that you need a generous amount of space. You can make more room by moving some furniture back or to the sides whilst you workout (think of it as part of your warm up!). If you have a garden, this might also be a great place to start working out at home.... weather permitting! This is Britain after all.
You should also move anything breakable or valuable out of harm’s way – even the most careful of us can end up being a little too enthusiastic during cardio, so you might want to move your crystal glasses out of the way or step away from the OLED TV!
Working out at home isn’t all too different to working out at the gym – you just need to be a little more creative on how you can get moving and get your blood pumping without any specialist equipment.
What do you need for a home workout?
Technically, all you need to workout at home is yourself – though there are a few other items that might come in useful for you if you’re planning on starting your fitness journey at home.
You should make sure that you have some comfortable and breathable clothing on hand. Sweating during a workout can quickly make things uncomfortable, so wearing breathable fabrics can help to save you from chafing and overall discomfort whilst you exercise. Maybe you have a pair of old leggings or joggers at the back of your wardrobe somewhere which you could pair with a T-shirt. For women (especially those with larger chests), you might want to invest in a decent support bra to avoid back pain and any injuries brought about by unsupportive underwear.
Whilst you can technically exercise in your everyday bra, it’s not particularly comfortable – especially if you prefer underwired bras. Luckily, support and sports bras are easily available online and on the high street.
You should also make sure that you have some supportive, comfortable and breathable footwear. This could just be a pair of cheap trainers – but as long as you’re comfortable and they support your feet, you should be fine. Suitable footwear reduces the risk of various sports injuries as well as slips and trips, so you should make sure that whichever footwear you choose is well-fitting and comfortable.
Other than the above, the only other thing you should need is plenty of water. When we exercise, our body loses fluid through sweat, which means that we’re more likely to become dehydrated if we don’t replace lost fluid. Drinking water throughout your workout should be enough to make sure that you don’t become dehydrated.
As long as you have all of the above, plus a big enough space for you to get to work, you’re all ready to start working out at home!
What is cardio exercise?
Cardio exercise is sometimes called aerobic exercise. Essentially, it’s any kind of physical activity that raises your heart and breathing rates.
Cardio or aerobic exercise has been proven to be great for keeping excess weight off in the long term, but it can also decrease your risk of various health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and by keeping your weight down through exercise, you’re also reducing your risk of obesity-related complications.
Cardio exercise isn’t just good for weight loss, but it’s also good for our overall wellbeing. It keeps us and our joints moving, it helps to strengthen muscles, and it burns off some of the energy that you accumulate. It also has some amazing benefits for your mental health, and it’s a great way to let off some steam when you’re feeling stressed or short-tempered.
Cardio doesn’t focus on weights, but it focuses on elevating your heart and respiration rates which is necessary for burning higher amounts of energy. Whilst feeling short of breath isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world, it’s important to remember that exercising is strengthening your body, and as you gain stamina, you’ll have to do more to feel short of breath.
Cardio vs weights
Weights are great for toning and strengthening muscles, but they don’t do a great deal for increasing heart rate which is needed for sustaining weight loss. However, it’s important to remember that exercise isn’t just about changing the shape or appearance of your body – it’s about movement, celebrating what your body can achieve, and helping yourself to become healthier by including more physical activity into your life.
If you enjoy weight training, then you should absolutely incorporate it into your workout plan. Plus, if you’re losing weight, toning your muscles can help to reduce any sagging skin which can often happen with rapid or drastic weight loss. You do need muscle strength for cardio exercise, so weights are a great place to start with strengthening your arms and legs. It can also be a nice gentle introduction into exercise if you’re a complete beginner.
Cardio and aerobic exercise burns more energy in the same amount of time than if you were just using weights, so it’s generally recommended for helping you to lose weight or sustain weight loss in the long term.
Cardio for beginners
If you’re a beginner to exercise, then the idea of being out of breath or hot and sweaty can be off-putting – but if you start gradually, you might find that you enjoy cardio more.
It’s important to start at a level that suits you. The government recommend doing at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which might seem like a lot at the moment, but once you start incorporating it into your daily routine and making exercise a habit, you should find that it just becomes another part of your day or something that you don’t have to think about much.
When the term “moderate exercise” is used, it can often cause some confusion about what exactly moderate is. The fact is that “moderate” exercise looks different for every person. A common analogy that’s used is that when you do moderate exercise, you should be able to hold a conversation but not be able to sing. In other words, you should have just enough breath to talk, but be too out of breath to sing a song. For someone that’s very fit and has a lot of stamina, they would need to work harder in order to feel like this, but for a beginner, a brisk walk would probably be enough to reach a moderate level of activity.
It’s important to start slowly with cardio if you’re a beginner, and try not to compare yourself to others. If someone else is able to do more without becoming breathless, don’t get yourself down – you’ll get there yourself one day! The main thing is moving your own body at a pace that’s right for you. If you try to keep up with someone that’s able to do more, you may end up doing more harm than good and either damaging your muscles or making yourself sick. If at any point during exercise you feel pain or as if you’re struggling to breathe, you should stop, take a break and drink some water. Putting your body under too much strain at once can put a lot of stress on your heart, so pacing yourself with cardio as a beginner is incredibly important.
With exercise, you have to keep working at it like with any skill in order to improve, and the more you move, the better you’ll become. Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore – it should make you feel good, so it’s also important to choose an activity that you enjoy.
With cardio, it doesn’t necessarily matter how you move, as long as you’re making sure that your heart rate is elevated and you’re breathing faster than normal.
When you’re working out at home, you might want to crank up the volume to 11 and dance to your favourite tunes. The best thing about working out at home is that it doesn’t matter if you think you look daft, as nobody else can see you. In fact, many beginners feel better working out at home as self-consciousness can play a part in discouraging people from exercising in public. Having a one person dance party in your living room is a great and fun way of getting some cardio into your day. If you’re a morning person, you might even want to start your day with a mini disco to get the blood pumping before a shower, or perhaps you might prefer dancing off the pent up energy after a day at work.
If you live in a house or building with stairs, you could even try some stair training exercises. Just walking up and down a few times can be enough to get your heart pumping faster. Stairs are also great for warm up and cool-down stretches as you can use them as a tool for stretching your legs.
Many cardio exercises can be done on the spot, such as jumping jacks (or star jumps), press ups, sit ups, skipping, burpees, running on the spot, squat jumps and lunges. Because these exercises don’t take up much room, it’s great for people that live in smaller buildings such as an apartment, flat, or shared housing.
If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space, your options for cardio exercise at home increase, as you can use your garden for running laps. If Sir Captain Tom Moore can do it, so can you! If you have a little bit of money, you might decide to install a basketball hoop which can be a great way of letting off some steam as well as increasing your heart rate.
Another idea is enough to excite adults and children alike – a trampoline. That’s right – using a trampoline the right way is also a kind of cardio exercise – though if you haven’t used one before, you might want to do your research on how to exercise on a trampoline. Although they’re incredibly fun, they can also be dangerous if you aren’t sure on the best way to work out on them. You should also look into trampolines with the right weight limit, as if you buy one that’s build for children or has a low weight limit, it could be dangerous.
If you’re still stuck for ideas on cardio exercises that you can try at home, the NHS has some great ideas or there are a wide variety of beginners exercise videos available on Youtube for free!