Whether you want to lose weight, reduce stress, or just live longer, cardio is essential!  But are you making mistakes with your cardio that could be keeping you from reaching your goals?  These six mistakes are more common than you may think, and they could be preventing you from losing weight and seeing results!

1. Doing the Same Workout Every Time: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  The same holds true with your cardio workouts. Your body will eventually adapt to doing the same thing over and over again, and will not drop any more body fat.  You need to change it up to see results!  Mix up your cardio routine with a variety of activities such as running, swimming, biking, and group classes.

2. Not Changing Up Your Pace: To get results, you need to have variety in the intensity, duration, and type of cardio you do.  The
most effective cardio for fat loss is interval training Walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day at the same pace isn’t going to cut it!  You need a cardio workout that takes your intensity level up between 5 and 9 on a scale of 1 to 10.

3. Exercising on an Empty Stomach: You need food in order to fuel your workout!  Even if you’re exercising first thing in the morning, it’s best to eat something small that contains carbs and protein before your sweat session.  This will ensure that the calories you’re burning come from your food, not from your muscles!  Bananas and peanut butter are an excellent choice for a pre-workout snack.

4. Skipping Your Warm-Up: Jumping right into a workout with cold muscles puts you at risk for injury!  Walk on the treadmill, jump rope, do jumping jacks, or even do a few sun salutations to get your blood pumping.  You only need 5 minutes to warm up your muscles and make sure they’re ready for your workout.

5. Not Stretching After Your Workout: That 5-minute post-cardio stretch you’re always tempted to skip is needed to help you maintain and improve your flexibility.  A flexible muscle has greater strength potential.  Improved flexibility also increases cardiovascular endurance and performance, and helps you avoid injury.  So don’t skip your stretch!!

6. ONLY Doing Cardio: Cardio alone will NOT get you the results you’re looking for.  Strength training is essential for fat loss!  A body with more muscle tissue burns more calories all day long, even when you’re sleeping.  And as you increase muscle composition through strength training, you will also burn more calories when doing cardio!  Learn to love muscle, and it will love you back…I promise!!

Sources: FitSugar, Women’s Health, Chalene Johnson’s PUSH

Photo Credit: www.womansday.com