If you’ve read much about ab workouts, or just plain getting in shape, you have probably seen a minor controversy that wages among the experts. 

“Does cardio really do much to help you lose weight?”  Some say yes, and some say there are much better ways of losing weight.  I think that, as in much of life, balance is the key.  A good cardio program is a great way to lose weight (and to even have a time to disconnect your mind and let your body take over for awhile).

Burning calories is burning calories.  There may be more efficient ways of doing it, but any time you are moving you are burning calories – heck, anytime you breathe you’re burning calories.  Any extra movement will burn calories and get you closer to your goal of showing off you flat stomach.

Maybe you haven’t had an exercise routine as a part of your life since you bought your first pair of Nikes and valour sweat suit (if you’re under 30, you’re not going to have these fond memories), but it’s never too late to start.

** Warning **  Talk to your doctor if it’s been a while since you’ve been working out.  Let him have a look at you to make sure the ticker is working ok and nothing is blocking anything that shouldn’t be blocked.  Serious things like heart attack or stroke can be avoided in most cases with a simple check up. 

It’s a great idea to have some kind of heart rate monitor.  You can purchase wrist watches that do the job well at a reasonable price.  Many exercise machines have built-in heart rate calculators that let you easily monitor you heart rate, too.

It is important to know your target heart rate for your age.  You will want to subtract your age from 220.  This gives you your maximum heart rate.  You will want to work out at around 65percent of your maximum heart rate for a low intensity workout, and all the way up to 80 percent of your max for a high intensity workout.  The math looks like this:

220 – Age = Y x .65 (or .8 for high intensity)

Just to plug real numbers in it, I’ll show you my equation.  (I’m 41 years old.)

220 – 41 = 179

179 x .65 = 116  Low intensity

179 x .8 = 143  High intensity

Whatever exercise(s) you chose, start out slow and focus on low intensity.  You’re not a teenager anymore.  (Unless you are, then nobody’s going to tell you anything.)  Walking is a fantastic cardio exercise for just starting out.  Try 10, 15, or 20 minutes at a pace that is comfortable.  After only a week, you will be able to extend the time 5 minutes or more.  Your goal is to exercise 30 – 40 minutes three times a week.  After you have increased time, you can gradually increase intensity.   I like to vary intensity.  Start out on low, go to moderate, and then to high.  I’ll repeat this cycle several times in my cardio workout.

Different exercises include:

  •  jogging
  • bicycling (outdoors and machine)
  • jump rope
  • treadmill
  • elliptical exerciser (my favorite)
  • stairs (real and machine)
  • swimming
  • rowing
  • etc…

I have bad knees from sports injuries.  If you have problems with joints, try the exercises that are easier on your joints.  Jogging, stairs, and the treadmill may be too much.  Try the elliptical trainer.  It is very easy on your joints if you don’t overdo it.  But be warned…  You can overdo it.  I have had to put ice packs on my knees many times from forgetting that I’m NOT a teenager anymore!  🙂

This advice will get you going in the right direction.  Remember, burning calories is important if we want to shed weight and show off our abs.  Get started today.

Next article…  Cardio for Flat Stomach – Tips and Tricks

To your Health and Success!