The road to physical fitness is not paved with miracle pills, diet crazes or fitness fads. If you’re looking to lose your love handles you have to be prepared to get a little sweaty.
If you want to slim down, you’ve got to burn fat. If you want to burn fat, you’ve got to burn calories. And if you want to burn calories, you’ve got to work hard. Period.
The science of weight loss is simple_it all boils down to calories in versus calories out. What isn’t always easy is achieving and maintaining this balance, especially when you’re a student. Countless hours spent in class or at home studying combined with a dependence on unhealthy convenience foods is a recipe for weight-gain. This is where a structured cardiovascular routine becomes your best weapon in the battle of the bulge.
Start by choosing an activity that will raise and sustain your heart rate at a consistent level, such as jogging, walking, cycling or aerobics. Try to pick something you enjoy_having fun is a great motivator and will ensure you stick to your plan. Also, don’t be afraid to think outside the box; the monotony of running on a treadmill isn’t for everyone. Join a pickup basketball league or sign up for an aquabics class at your neighbourhood pool. How you move isn’t important_it’s how often and how hard that will make the difference.
To increase your cardiorespiratory endurance and whittle your waist, you should aim to exercise three to five days a week, for 30-45 minutes per session. If you’re new to the fitness scene, however, start with three and work up to five. Also, be sure to warm up before and cool down after each workout with lower intensity cardio and light stretching. This will ease muscle tension and soreness, and help prevent injury.
Once your fitness level begins to improve, you’ll have to step up the intensity of your workouts to avoid fitness and weight-loss plateaus. One of the best ways to rev up your cardio routine is to interval train_that is, to add high-intensity spurts to your existing program. For example, if you usually jog at a steady pace for 30 minutes, try walking for one minute, sprinting for 30 seconds, jogging for two minutes and then repeating the cycle. By constantly challenging your body you will maximize its fat-burning potential. As an added bonus, interval training also staves off boredom. The more you mix it up, the more fun your routine will be.
Aside from a svelte silhouette, cardio training provides many other benefits. It elevates your metabolism, maintains, strengthens and tones your major muscle groups, and helps prevent a wide range of diseases including diabetes, high blood-pressure and obesity. So nix the quick fixes, commit to a cardio routine, and make the transition from flab to fab!
Next week: we are going to PUMP, *clap*, YOU UP!