While there are many other methods which I use to maximise my performance, daily cardio forms the most important part of my schedule (this includes using a stepper, jogging, biking, walking etc.). It is widely known that continuous training can allow you to reach new heights as far as your physical and mental performance is concerned. Cardio appears to not be the first choice of training method for many people. This is particularly (and understandably) due to the fact that it is not easy to find time every single day – this requires great discipline.
When I first began to carve out the time for a half an hour cardio session, the aim was not to attempt to make this a daily routine. In the first month I managed to complete a 15 minute workout on the stepper twice a week and measured my pulse to be between 120 and 140bpm. And yet I noticed slight improvements in my condition. These occurred despite being overweight.
Thankfully, back then I informed myself in more detail about cardio training. All of the articles I came across talked about the fact that cardio training four or five times a week can increase brain plasticity, and positively impact the formation of new neurones. Many experts encourage patients to run regularly in order to improve the rate of cell regeneration. In many studies and scientific journals thirty minute training sessions are recommended as a longer cardio session does not seem to make any significant difference, except, for example, that after an hour long run the body requires a longer rest period. Even a fifteen minute training session will have some positive effects, however, naturally a thirty minute session would be more effective.
When I began to successively increase the frequency of my cardio sessions, my condition improved noticeably from week to week. When I used the stepper for thirty minutes early in the morning, I felt refreshed and the quality of my day improved. Even on days when I did not have time in the morning and had to re-schedule my half hour cardio session for the evening, I could sense a noticable difference the next day.
After two more months of almost daily training I made a slight change to my programme and introduced a form of interval training on the stepper. After three minutes I increased the resistance to close to my maximum level before subsequently setting it back to a normal level. When using a low resistance my pulse was between 120 and 150bpm and when using a high one it was between 150 and 190bpm. I sweated more profusely and afterwards always had the feeling of having achieved more. The body becomes accustomed to a higher intensity very quickly and the rest period needed is not that much longer. At the moment I train for three minutes using the highest resistance level on the stepper and switch between rest and higher intensity periods every three minutes. The higher intensity not only improved my condition but also my resilience in many areas of life.
As I gradually increased the intensity and tested my limits in my thirty minute training sessions, I realised that I needed to take a step backwards and start again. At the moment, I complete a HIIT session every Wednesday. My other training sessions include cardio as a form of recovery, whereby I maintain a pulse of around 130bpm. I take two rest days, although on one of these I go swimming with a friend and on Sundays I go for a run. As soon as strength training and any form of intensive training is introduced into the mix, it is worth introducing rest days with some moderate activity. It is important to take tiredness and all other forms of exhaustion seriously. When you feel fit and ready, you will have the best possible training session! Pain and exhaustion should not be simply overcome; instead, it would be far more useful to take a step back when experiencing these feelings. You should listen to and be mindful of your body, and introduce lower intensity, yet regular, training sessions.
Positive Effects of Cardio Training:
1. Increase in Brain Function
Studies have shown that regular cardiovascular training increases hippocampal size. This part of the brain is important for verbal memory and for studying. Cardio training improves memory as well as general brain health.
2. Improves Symptoms of Depression and Your Mood
Training sensitizes the brain’s reaction with regard to serotonin und noradrenaline und works to counter depressive thoughts.
It is said that cardio training provides an alternative to anti-depressants as it improves one’s general wellbeing.
3. Increase in Energy Levels
That physically active people are more resilient and tire less easily is disputed.
Medical experts recommend cardiovascular training as a means of tackling many diverse forms of tiredness.
4. Improve Quality of Sleep and Rest
Cardio training activates processes of regeneration as you sleep which results in higher energy levels the next day.
150 minutes of cardiovascular training per week increases quality of sleep by 65 percent. In order to maintain my stamina during my 30 minute strength training sessions I regularly complete cardio sessions. This has resulted in a further improvement to my sleep quality.
5. Clearer Skin
The increased blood flow has a positive effect on the appearance of the skin as well as skin health in general.
6. The Investment of Your Time Pays Off
Following a training routine improves your sense of self-worth. You reached a goal, achieved something. I personally have noticed that I am more likely to reach my daily and weekly goals. A sense of personal satisfaction is gained and when a day goes by without training, it feels like something is missing. First and foremost, I train in order to improve my productivity and cognitive capacity. Having a training routine is therefore very important. It is sufficient to tap into 70 – 80 percent of one’s performance during cardio training. Reducing the length of the first few training sessions is particularly useful in order to prevent bad muscle soreness and keep recovery times short.
7. Heart Health
As well as the increase in productivity, cardiovascular training improves cardiac output and strengthens the entire cardiovascular system. In the long-term, the heart “learns” to work more economically, which in turn results in a decrease in load on the heart. In addition, it increases the cardiac reserves of the heart and vessels.
8. Improve Respiration
The respiratory organs work more effectively. On top of that, the capacity of the cardiac reserves in the lungs and the bronchial tubes is improved.
9. Improve Metabolism
The generation of energy becomes more effective and the endogenous energy stores grow in size. Alongside the improvements to the plasma lipids, the effectiveness of insulin is improved.
10. Cardio Training Forms an Ideal Compliment to Strength Training
The whole body is involved. In this way inter- and intramuscular coordination is improved as well the general performance of the muscles. The increase in circulation provides the muscles with an optimal level of oxygen and other important nutrients.
11. Pressure on the Joints
Jogging outside in nature is not to be recommended as a starting point for those who are overweight. The stepper or bicycle place less pressure on the joints. Nonetheless, regular, intensive cardio training improves the structure of cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments. Thus, the body becomes more resilient with time.
12. Maintain and Manage Your Weight
Daily cardio training reduces the chance of gaining weight. When this is combined with strength training, the ideal combination is created for reducing caloric intake. Therefore, cardio can help anyone looking to lose weight. However, weight loss can only be achieved with an optimal diet and possibly also with fasting. This topic will be explored in more detail in further blog articles.
As already stated, cardio training is an ideal way to reduce the risk of a heart attack. Anyone who has already experienced a heart attack should be careful to only raise their pulse to a limited degree. In such a case it is recommendable to do a light walk each day, either on the treadmill or outside. It is also sufficient to exercise for 30 minutes per day. A light training session on the stepper or bike is also an option.
I use the stepper a maximum of five times per week, dependant on my training plan. I have had the chance to try out a variety of models and can therefore recommend using, if available, a stepper with elastic components (also known as Vario technology). Steppers such as these are gentle on the joints and allow a natural sequence of movements. This stepper is particularly recommendable for people who are overweight. Anyone who does not have access to a nearby training spot who is thinking about buying a stepper should, if possible, invest a bit more, as their ability to last is dependant on the quality of the equipment.
By now I feel much better when I do cardio training, and this is due to the experience that I have gathered. However, jogging forms an exception to this as a result of being overweight. In the coaching app from Helsana there is a plan called “Jogging for beginners”. I plan to use this programme in the coming three months and to share my experiences in this blog. Why would I like to jog? Well, it is a step forward, the intensity is higher than on the stepper, and it is physically and psychologically beneficial to move in the fresh air while surrounded by nature. I also hope to be able to continue to regulate my weight. And so I am even prepared to accept muscle soreness!
In order to put this into practice I will follow the plan from the Helsana Coaching App exactly:
|1||2 Minutes||2 Minutes||10||40 Minutes|
|2||3 Minutes||2 Minutes||9||45 Minutes|
|3||3 Minutes||1 Minute||12||48 Minutes|
|4||5 Minutes||2 Minutes||7||49 Minutes|
|5||8 Minutes||2 Minutes||5||50 Minutes|
|6||12 Minutes||3 Minutes||3||45 Minutes|
|7||16 Minutes||4 Minutes||3||60 Minutes|
|8||25 Minutes||3 Minutes||2||56 Minutes|
|9||50 Minutes||3 Minutes||1||53 Minutes|
|(Break after 30 Minutes)|