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Cardio Moves to Add to Your Workout

Cardio Moves to Add to Your Workout

Mountain climbers

Cardiovascular exercise doesn’t have to take the form of distance running or lengthy sessions on machines. Incorporate these moves into any workout to increase your heart rate and burn calories.

Plank Variations

Planks strengthen the upper body and the core, and variations can make them challenging cardio workouts. While in a plank position on your hands, jump both feet out to the sides and back together for plank jacks. Do mountain climbers by alternating steps forward and pulling in the knee towards the chest. Jump both feet forward to land between your hands for a plank tuck. Adding these jumps and tucks with the lower body will quickly increase your heart rate.

Jump Transitions

Adding a jump to any move makes it more difficult and increases your heart rate. You can turn a lower body strength move into a cardio workout by jumping between repetitions. Jump into the air as you stand from a squat or jump as you switch feet during alternating lunges.

Quick Feet

A classic athletic training move, you can use quick feet to boost the cardiovascular benefit of your workout. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and squat down a little by bending the knees. Quickly shuffle your feet, but stay in one place. The lower you squat during the shuffle, the more challenging it will be for your lower body muscles and your cardiovascular system. Incorporate 30 to 60 seconds of quick feet any time you want to add a quick burst of cardio.

Kick with a Runner’s Lunge

Using all the major muscle groups to move the body up and down is a good way to increase the heart rate. From a standing position, lift the right knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor, and kick your foot out in front of you. Lower the leg and extend it behind you as you plant the toes of your right foot on the ground while bending the left knee into a runner’s lunge. Your hands should touch the ground next to your left foot. Move more quickly and add a small hop on the left foot as you kick to increase intensity. Repeat the kick and lunge on the right side for 30 seconds before switching legs.

Beginner Cardio Workout

Cardiovascular exercise improves heart health and burns calories making it an essential part of your fitness program. Start with exercise that is at the right intensity for your fitness level. As your fitness improves, you can increase the time or intensity to continue challenging yourself. Get started with this at-home, beginner cardio workout.

Perform each of these low-impact exercises for 60 seconds. One round of these exercises completes a 6 minute workout. Do two to five rounds. As your fitness improves, incorporate the tips for increasing intensity for a more challenging workout.


Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knees as you sit back like you are about to sit in a chair. Raise to the starting position. Concentrate on squatting quickly up and down to get the heart rate up versus lowering into a deep squat position.

Intensity tip: Jump into the air each time you push out of the squat position.

March in place

Raise the knees high. Keep the stomach pulled in and pump the arms.

Intensity tip: Transition to a jog in place.

Side step

Take a big step to the right and then step back to the left. Repeat the side step as quickly as possible.

Intensity tip: Hop side to side.

Walk forward and back

Walk forward four steps and then walk backward four steps. Pump the arms as you move up and back.

Intensity tip: Push the arms up and down overhead as you walk. Transition to jogging forward and back.

Front kicks

Kick your right foot out in front of you and then the left foot. Begin with low kicks, about shin height.

Intensity tip: Raise the knee high with each kick and extend the leg parallel to the floor. Add a hop with each kick.

Arm raises

Start with your arms at your sides. Bend the elbows and raise your hands up to shoulder level. Push both hands out in front of you with your arms parallel to the floor. Bend the elbows and bring the hands back close to the shoulders. Then raise your hands up over head. Return to the starting position. Repeat pushing the arms out in front and overhead. The more quickly you move, the more challenging the exercise.

Intensity tip: Add lower body movement like front kicks or jogging in place.

Ways to Stay Motivated

Ways to Stay Motivated

Motivation fuels your desire to make the small changes necessary to reach your long-term goals. The sources for your motivation may change and at times it can feel like it’s disappeared completely. When you hit a low point, it’s important to find ways to stay motivated.

Make a list of your positive changes.

Don’t allow frustrating weight loss and strength training plateaus make you lose focus and overlook your progress. Make a list of your positive changes. Include everything from exercising three times a week and drinking less soda to improved mood and more energy. All of these small changes matter, and when you see them all on paper, they become a source of motivation.

Pick one exercise to measure your progress.

Select an exercise that is timed or measured by repetitions and requires no equipment. Wall sit, plank, or push-ups are good examples. If you make it part of your regular routine, this one exercise can be enough to show your progress and keep you motivated. Advancing from a 15 second wall sit to 90 seconds or from 5 modified push-ups to 10 standard push-ups proves your hard work is paying off. Seeing these results can keep you from throwing in the towel when it feels like your progress has stalled.

Give yourself the day off.

If you’ve been working hard to reach your goals, but your motivation is wavering, you may need a break from your routine. Even the most committed exercisers need a break to rest, relax, and revisit goals. If your program has been strict, you might consider giving yourself a cheat day.

Create a Balanced Fitness Plan

Create a Balanced Fitness Plan

Improve Your Nutrition

Reducing your calorie intake will help you lose weight, but it is only one part of healthier eating. Nutrition must be a priority to give your body the fuel it needs. Eat meals and snacks that are balanced in protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fat. Include a variety of plant-based foods to increase your intake of dietary fiber and phytonutrients that protect health.

Move More

While a rigid training program keeps some motivated, the lack of variety can cause others to give up. Make your ultimate goal to move more, and try different workouts to identify your fitness style. Structured exercise isn’t for everyone, and it is not a requirement for improved fitness. If you dislike the gym, move more by hiking, taking dance classes, or practicing watersports.

Include Rest

Rest days should be a part of any fitness program. The body needs time to rest, recover, and refuel itself so you can make gains in both cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Work hard during your exercise sessions, and allow yourself a break one day a week.

Calm Your Mind

It’s true that exercise can relieve symptoms of mild depression and improve self confidence, but take an extra step to incorporate activities that focus on your mental health. Take a brain break, and meditate on your goals for 5 to 10 minutes a day. Add yoga to your routine to ease stress and improve flexibility.

Sleep Well

You probably know that restful sleep gives you the energy to exercise and helps to regulate hormones that influence hunger and cravings, but getting 7 to 9 hours a night is a challenge. Improve your sleeping habits by tracking how much you currently get, and set small goals to go to bed 10 minutes earlier each week. Create a restful environment that promotes sleep. Stop screen time at least an hour before bedtime, and engage in an activity that relaxes you like meditating, journaling, or sipping decaffeinated tea.

How to Increase Your Workout Intensity

How to Increase the Intensity of Your Workout

Increasing exercise intensity means you will burn more calories and improve cardiovascular fitness. You don’t have to change your entire program. Making a few simple changes can quickly increase the intensity of your workout.

Move faster.

Picking up the pace is one of the more obvious ways to increase intensity. Track the time it takes you to run or walk a mile and set a goal to shave of a few seconds each time you work out. Increasing the cadence on the bike or elliptical machine and moving more quickly from one strength training exercise to the next are all ways you can make your workout more intense.

Use your arms.

Raising your arms above your heart will quicken your breathing and heart rate to make your workout more challenging. Whether you are on a cardio machine or out for a walk, try pushing your hands overhead and then pull them back down for 30 second intervals throughout the workout. If your cardio machine has moving arm handles, use them and get the arms swinging. For circuit workouts, add cardio segments like jumping jacks or raise your arms into the air as you march or jog in place.

Add a hop.

Adding a bounce to your step will get the heart pumping. If you walk for exercise, try skipping a few steps. When doing knee lifts or kicks, add a hop as you switch legs. Instead of stepping side to side, add a jump. You can also incorporate hops into plank moves. Try plank jacks where you jump your feet out to each side and back together, or pick up the pace during mountain climbers.

Hit the hills.

Your heart works harder as you increase elevation. Adding hills or stairs to your route is an easy way to bump up intensity.

Add a power interval.

During a power interval, you will increase your speed or pace for 30 to 60 seconds and then slow your pace to recover. Power intervals can be added to all types of workouts. On a spinning bike, increase the cadence, or during a run, sprint. If you are a walker, increase your speed and swing the arms more vigorously.

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