If you've become a gym rat, you've probably learned that it's not wise to do strength training exercises every day because your muscles need time to recover. But doing a little cardio every day at the gym can be healthy as you work toward getting or maintaining a hot bod that's bikini-ready. Short spurts of heart-pumping cardio at your local health club can help you meet your weekly cardio goal.
Daily Cardio Benefits
Doing a little cardio every time you're at the gym, whether that's daily or every other day, can benefit you in many ways. In addition to strengthening your heart health and helping you burn calories to get rid of that muffin top or those jiggly thighs, cardio exercise provides mental health benefits, too. Just five minutes on the treadmill or your favorite cardio machine can help you begin feeling less anxious. A 10-minute walk on the treadmill or around the gym track can relieve depression. You might even enjoy that relief for hours after you stop exercising.
Before You Get Started
Regardless of your age and level of physical fitness, plan to see your doctor before you start your exercise routine. Even a little cardio every time you're at the gym can prove to be challenging if you've been glued to the couch for a while. Chatting with your physician can help you set realistic goals that promote success. Once you get to the gym, warm your body up with an easy five-minute walk on the treadmill or around the track before you perform your chosen form of cardio. Follow your warm-up with a couple of easy stretches to further loosen the muscles. For example, stretch your arms toward the ceiling and bend at the waist to touch your toes.
Exercising Your Options
Ten minutes of cardio at a time is beneficial, but it's best to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio over the course of the week. You can alternate between 10 minutes of cardio and strength training at the gym. Repeat this sequence two to three times. Or do a little bit of cardio at the gym and do some more at home when it's convenient. When it comes time to choose which cardio machine you want to use, the gym has plenty of options. Melt away the excess flab while sweating it up on the elliptical machine, stationary bike, treadmill or stair climber. To prevent exercise boredom, you can do a few minutes on each machine.
Knowing When Enough is Enough
While it's clear that short spurts of cardio every time you're at the gym will benefit your health, you may eventually choose to increase your aerobic exercise time. Shooting for 30 to 60 minutes most days will help you lose excess flab and improve your physical stamina without monopolizing your busy schedule.
However, just as it's not healthy to be sedentary, exercising too much can also harm your health. Overtraining syndrome occurs when you push your body too hard, too often and do not give it sufficient time to recover. With short cardio segments, this isn't likely to be a problem, but as you exercise more, you'll have to start paying attention to your body's fatigue cues. If you feel tired or your muscles ache after a particularly strenuous cardio workout, take the day off or perform lighter cardio activity instead. Fatigue, depression, sleeplessness and loss of appetite are some warnings that you need to give your body a break.
- The New York Times: 10-Minute Workouts, Times Three
- Harvard Health Publications: Benefits of Exercise...
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Exercise for Stress and Anxiety
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Warm Up, Cool Down and Be Flexible
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- American Council on Exercise: What's the Best Piece of Cardio Equipment to Use?
- NBCNews.com Smart Fitness: Should You Go the Extra Mile?
- Rice University: Overtraining Syndrome
Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.