How to 'Heart' Your Cardio Workouts

How do YOU define a healthy lifestyle?

Do you ever remember a time when you actually enjoyed your cardio workouts?

You realize that cardio workouts are beneficial for you heart, you have more energy, and whatnot. Then you begin to become hypnotized by the calorie counters. Pretty soon your focus becomes almost entirely about weight control. You pledge to work out every day (maybe take holidays off...maybe). You vow to continue increasing your intensity. To ensure you stick to it, you promise to suffer extreme guilt for any lapse in your routine.

This type of resolution doesn't last long. Unfortunately the gym can be quite dull. It usually means time away from the the people and the life you would rather be living. What's more, body sculpting and weight loss results are not typically as great as you thought they would be. You suddenly find yourself spiraling down into the dreaded world of...burnout.

The most effective exercise plans are those that are consistent. In order to be consistent, it has to be fun. A boring routine will not be a part of your life for very long (and if it was, who would want to live like that?). In fact, it is less effective at challenging your muscles in new ways.

I am here to show you another way. The win-win here is what I like to call Active Play. If you have a child handy, you probably already know what I mean by this. If you are lacking a proper trainer, then you are going to need to open your mind.

What types of activities did you like to do when you were a child. Did you enjoy playgrounds--sliding and swinging? Maybe you preferred swimming or jumping on a trampoline. Someone once told me she jumps on her big trampoline, happily tuned into her ipod...she doesn't even realize an hour has passed because it is so much fun.

This brings up a critical point: this is active and fun--that is what I call living life to the fullest. Cardio exercise should add to your life rather than steal time from it. Who wants to take time away from their real life in order to make it last longer?

Here are some additional ideas for active play:

*swimming in the pool (not laps!)

*shooting hoops

*hitting a tennis ball against a wall

*racing or chasing your child

*riding bikes with a family member

*wall climbing

*hiking

*dancing

Sign up for a rec team if there is a sport you enjoy. Consider joining a charity walk or 5K run. The most important part of exercise is being consistent with it. You will be more consistent with it if it is fun or some kind of purpose. Declare now that you will never guilty over missed exercise plans. Now get out there and start living more fully by making playtime one of the best parts of your day.


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Jennifer Pereira MA, RD, LD, CSCS, LPC - WISE Therapist & Dietitian

Do you have a problem?

1. Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?

2. Do you make yourself sick (or use laxatives/exercise) if you feel uncomfortably full?

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