Five Tips to Make Cardio Easier
Exercise is supposed to be hard, right? But, really! Those first few minutes of a cardio workout feel like you're going to die! I'm trying to hoover in as much oxygen as I can, and I am still huffing and puffing like there's no tomorrow. I'm in shape, for the most part, and it's still a struggle to get past those first few minutes.
So, I got to thinking. Once you get into an intense workout, it seems to get better as you hit your stride. But, you'd think you are more rested at the beginning, so it should just get harder the farther you get into it. But, nope. It doesn't work that way.
EVERYBODY DOES IT
After doing a bit of research, I've learned that it's perfectly NORMAL to feel like you're totally new to exercise, even if you've been doing it daily for years, at the beginning of a workout. So, if you're just now getting back into a routine, you sure shouldn't feel bad if you're struggling.
But, don't give up! Keep going in that workout, and your body will start to adjust on its own and give you some relief. Will it get easier? Not really. But, your body will start working with you, instead of against your efforts as it compensates for your activity.
San Diego exercise physiologist Pete McCall told Shape Magazine, "When you exercise, the stress hormone cortisol eventually spikes, which helps convert your muscles' stored glycogen to energy." He explained that your body goes through a very efficient process, even though it may not feel like it.
Within five to eight minutes after the start of your workout, your aerobic metabolism kicks in and helps your body acquire more oxygen and produces energy more easily. A lot of runners call it hitting their stride, but it's really just finding that sweet spot in your workout where you feel a burst of energy that enables you to push through.
HANG IN THERE!
But -- those first few minutes are ROUGH! I totally give you that! They are killers! So, what can you do to push through them and make it to that sweet spot where you're able to tolerate your exercise program? Here are a few suggestions:
- Warm up slowly. Save your most strenuous actions at least 10 minutes into your workout. Trying to do them at the start of your routine will literally make your fitness efforts miserable. Warm up with jogging in place, jumping Jacks, windmill exercises and other things that get your heart pumping, but not straining.
- Don't quit: Even though you may feel like you can barely catch your breath and your muscles are shutting down, don't give in! It will eventually get better, if you keep up the hard work. Your body will adjust to the pace and quit working against you. Endure the pain and discomfort, knowing that it will get smoother in a few minutes.
- Take little breaks: If you need to, pause for a few seconds. Or, adjust your activity to a slower pace while your body catches up. Just because the fitness coach in your video is going full force, it doesn't mean you have to if it's uncomfortable for you. Starting out slow is not shameful. However, as your body adjusts, pick up the pace. Try to break as few of times as possible and maintain some sort of activity to keep up your momentum and heart rate during your time out.
- Stay hydrated: A good cardio workout is going to make you sweat. You need to drink water. Don't wait until you're thirsting to death to take a few sips. Keep your water bottle close by, and enjoy some cool drinks at the beginning, middle and end of your workouts. (But, don't drink too fast or too much: it can make your workouts uncomfortable, too!) Try these great tips to stay hydrated!
- Distract yourself: If those first few minutes are pure Hell, focus on something else to help you endure them. Blast some booty-kicking music as background for your workout. Or, reward yourself with last night's episode of your favorite show as you get active. But, don't get so distracted that you slack off or exhibit poor form.
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