When beginning your exercise program, you may wonder when you'll start to see the desired results. You may be surprised that you can begin to see results, especially cardiovascular, in as little as two weeks. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) studies have shown that if frequency, intensity and duration of an exercise are performed for a period of time -- even as little as two weeks -- cardiovascular fitness will improve. For example, if five different people run, cycle or swim five days a week for 30 minutes each session, all five individuals would experience an improvement in their cardiovascular fitness level.
Type of Exercise
Exercises involving large muscle groups are the most effective. These movements will help you increase the blood flow back to your heart. Because of the increase in blood flow, aerobic conditioning is more effective. Walking, jogging, swimming, rowing and cardio kickboxing are examples of exercises that use these muscle groups. Find an exercise activity that interests you so as you exercise, you enjoy it.
Ranges of aerobic fitness are broad because of different effects on your level of fitness, including genetic factors. If you've never been in a regular exercise program, you may choose a lower-intensity exercise. But if you have a higher level of fitness, you may choose a higher-intensity exercise. If you increase your heart rate during exercise, then you should experience an increase in cardiovascular training.
The ACSM recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, or 30 minutes of exercise five days of the week. Don't have 30 minutes to spare all at once? ACSM research has shown that three 10-minute sessions will lead to the same cardiovascular improvements as one 30-minute session if they're done at the same intensity. This gives new meaning to making the most of your time.
Perform your exercise of choice at least three to five days per week. The more frequent the exercise, the greater the cardio benefits. You may want to consider participating in a variety of activities. This is known as cross training. Cross training helps to decrease the risk of overuse injuries, increases fitness and reduce the chance of you becoming bored. For example, on Monday and Wednesday take a Zumba class, on Tuesday walk in your neighborhood, and on Thursday and Friday take a water aerobics class.
It's important to allow adequate rest and recovery for your body with a regular exercise program. Feeling sore and achy or fatigued for the day? Consider working at a lighter pace for your workout. A day or two of rest in your exercise week can give your body a chance to recover from your workout program. Rest helps to reduce the risk of overtraining and allows your body to rejuvenate and ready itself for your next workout.
- Sports Med 2009: Accumlated versus Continuous Exercise for Health Benefit; Marie H. Murphy et al
- American College of Sports Medicine: ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise
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