If you are like most women, you have your favorite cardio machine or cardio activity. I have friends who are avid tennis players, runners, bikers and marathoners. Then there are my friends who are addicted to the treadmill, elliptical machine or stair climber. I have seen firsthand women who are so obsessed with a particular machine that if they are all taken, they will wait for one to become available rather than trying out a different one.
The good news is that there is nothing wrong with any form of cardiovascular fitness. In my opinion, whatever gets you to exercise, work up a sweat and contributes to leading a healthy lifestyle is okay in my book. The bad news, however, is that depending on your fitness goals, you may want to rethink your favorite cardio.
Many women will cite weight loss as a major reason they exercise and the more they sweat, the better they feel about reaching that goal. But if you are doing the same cardiovascular activity nearly every day of the week, you may find yourself hitting a fork in the weight loss road. It all goes back to your body adapting to the exercise that you do most often.
A spinning enthusiast can no doubt bike cross-country without batting an eye, but how would she do in a boxing ring? An avid swimmer might be able to swim the English Channel, but how about doing a minute of burpees? Have you ever tried doing something completely different than your norm? How did you feel? Did you find yourself huffing and puffing more than usual? If so, congratulations—you just realized the importance of not limiting yourself to just one form of cardiovascular exercise.
Now there is no need to give up what you love. In fact, keep improving upon it whether it is running a faster mile, climbing a dozen more flights of stairs or biking up that really steep hill that seems to elude you. But once in a while, go for something new.
I used to be addicted to step and kickboxing classes, but I soon discovered this was not effective when I returned to my workouts and needed to lose weight after giving birth to my daughter. I decided a major cardiovascular overhaul was needed. I ran and walked (pushing a double jogger stroller loaded with a baby on one side and heavy weights on the other). I did intervals, boot camp classes and climbed the bleachers at the local high school football field. I lifted heavy weights in between my climbs, walks and runs. I did plyometrics and began changing my step classes to circuit training. The results I saw three months later were enough to convince me to never exercise like I did in the past. Not only did I lose the forty-three pounds I gained during my pregnancy, but I also lost an additional seventeen! After that, I vowed that every day I would always do something different.
Nine years later, I have stuck with that motto. After that second baby came along, it took less time than before to lose the post-pregnancy weight because I knew I had to once again change my routine even though it was already diverse. The moral of the story—the only way to really see changes is to make changes. Even if you choose one day a week to do something completely different, your body will respond by using more energy to get through this unfamiliar activity and that means burning more calories and losing weight.
So the next time your favorite treadmill, elliptical, bike or spot in class is taken, do not give up or sit and wait. Try something new. Hey, we often tell our kids to try new foods, make new friends, or try a new activity. We should take our own advice and see how it can benefit us as well. You can even make a deal with them—you will take that dreaded boot camp class if they eat the (insert vegetable here) you made for dinner. How is that for positive change for both you and your kids?
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