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Cardio is probably the number one most despised workout necessity in the history of modern mankind.  The reason why most people reject a personal trainer’s requirements for cardio is that they associate cardio with being out of breath and gasping for air, similar to the feeling they experience when they try to run around the block. Although, running outdoors is great for your health and can bring dramatic results, it doesn’t mean its your only option.

There are plenty of indoor cardio exercises that are easy to condition for.  The reason why people fail at losing weight even when doing large amounts of cardio is that they don’t push themselves enough. If done correctly, Cardio can double your weight loss  in comparison to doing strength training alone. Without changing my diet, I lost and average of 10 pounds a  month doing an hour of cardio 7 days a week.

There are two variables that effect weight loss:

1.The physical amount of time spent doing cardio activity each day
When I started doing cardio,  I has just quit smoking the day before so i could only do 5 minutes before my lungs closed up and I felt like I was passing out. I kept pushing every day and after a week I was doing about 15 minutes of cardio. The following week i could do half an hour and finally, by the end of the month I could do an hour 7 days a week. Its just pure will power,determination, and consistency. It’s important to get up to an hour of indoor cardio exercise because this will open doors to do some of the 1 hour classes available at most gyms such as Spin Class, Step Class, and dance into shape classes.

2. the level of intensity held for the cardio period.
It is really difficult to come up with a standard “intensity” for a person regardless of weight or age,  so instead I am going to explain to you some of the differences between the indoor cardio machines and how to set up goals, day in and day out, in order to sustain a 1 hour indoor cardio workout. These exercises really help build strength and definition in the often neglected lower body.

Elliptical Gliders
These are my favorite indoor machines ever. They are supposed to simulate running while leaving no impact to the ankle or knee joints. This makes them a great place to start, but you will soon notice  a major difference from running. Normally, when you run, the faster you run, the longer your strides. Elliptical  Gliders  make it so your strides get smaller as you run faster. Some even allow you to also adjust the angle to increase or decrease the intensity of the work out.  I really like the dynamics of this machine!

What’s a good tempo?
The purpose of cardio is to break a sweat and keep sweating throughout the workout. When I do my 1 hour of elliptical I start the first ten minutes at a pace of maybe 6 mph and then for the next 50 minutes I do about 7.5-8.5 mph. So, I will say for beginners, try to keep a pace of 6-8.6 mph during your whole cardio workout.

How much resistance should I use?
In the beginning don’t use any resistance at least until you can do at least 35 minutes. The first goal of cardio is to condition yourself to be able to do an hour, 3 days a week, end of story. Currently I do 50 minutes at level 12 resistance 2 to 3 days a week for maintenance. On days where you are feeling low on steam and cant do more than 30 minutes, boost your cardio as high as you can handle doing for those 30 minutes.

Stationary Bike
These machines come in two flavors. The first is obvious. A machine  that feels like a speed bicycle but it doesn’t actually go anywhere, hence the name stationary. The other is more like peddling on a low rider three wheeler.  These are low to the ground and when seated, the pedals are set in front of you rather than below you.

Note: I personally don’t use these, but Spin Classes  are extremely popular with Gym Rats of all ages from college students to their active accompanying parents. From watching peoples statistics on their stationary bikes, I noticed that you can burn 700 - 850 calories an hour depending on the intensity which is comparable or maybe even better than other machines.

Step Climber
These are my least favorite machines, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely affective. Basically they are mini escalators that you just walk on. You can adjust the speed and some let you adjust the height of the rise. Certain models don’t have actual stairs and are similar to the adapative motion trainers but  don’t have the same  flexibility of motion.

Adaptive Motion Trainer
These are great machines that I use on occasion to spice things up. They are designed so that you can do both step climbing and elliptical on the same machine. You can switch back and forth by changing your physical motions.  The also allow for a longer stride so you can run more naturally if you like a faster paced workout. In an hour I have burned a minimum of 850 calories, easy. I definitely recommend these great machines.

Treadmills are my most favorite and least favorite of the indoor cardio machines. I can’t use them because i damaged my ear drum when I was a kid and for some reason seeing  the floor moving underneath me with my peripheral vision gives me vertigo so I don’t really use them, but they are great. The closest thing to outdoor running that you can do during bad weather without getting wet. . . at least from the rain.  You can adjust the grade and the speed so its fun to change up your daily cardio goals.If you like treadmills than you should really start outdoor training because time seems to go much faster outdoors and there’s a lot of beautiful trails out there.

Outdoor Cardio
You don’t have to explicitly use the gym for all exercise unless you really want to. Sports, swimming laps, and 2-3 hour hikes are also great compliments to any workout regime. In the near future I plane to manage some informal outdoor activities for the beginners and intermediate outdoor cardio people. So if you are looking to go on a 6 mile hike, enjoy a sunny day by the lake, or kayaking in the bay, check the events section often. Happy Living!