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A beginner’s guide for everyday cardio routines, guaranteed to get you into shape and benefit your health.
While some of us used the newly gained leisure time of the year to get into shape, others picked up a new hobby, or got really into baking banana bread. If you belong to one of the latter categories, you might feel like you just missed the fitness train, but no need to worry. It’s never too late to get into shape! And especially during an ongoing pandemic, a healthy body has become more important than ever.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for those of you who would like to start working out, but feel a little overwhelmed with the variety of options and where to begin. And no need to be afraid, the ominous gym will not be mentioned!
First things first. Do think about your schedule and how much time you can free for your weekly training routines. While individual sessions don’t need to be particularly long and extensive, you should still try to get at least three of those into your calendar. Don’t think you can get away with a Sunday afternoon walk if you want to see progress happen.
I recommend cardio as a starting point, as it requires the fewest tools and takes up the least amount of time. Do trust your own body! A pair of running shoes, and off we go. No need for an expensive racing bike, mountain bike, or even a swimming bath membership. Just get outside and get moving. Do commit to it as a training session however, even if you prefer to walk in the beginning. By dressing accordingly and putting on some running shoes, temptation will arise soon enough to enter into jogging mode, and in no time, you will be fully up and running.
What should a cardio session look like? If you start out with walking, do include some literal ups and downs in your route. Be that a long series of steps, or a number of hills, try and make it more challenging than your daily walk to the office. To save time, it’s good idea to start in your immediate surroundings. Your local “auto-pédestre”, a circular walking trail marked by white signs with blue triangles, might be a good starting point. These routes are often easily accessible and take you through some beautiful landscapes. A choice your knees will appreciate too, as it helps you avoid concrete. And don’t shy away from the longer ones, which can be up to 16 km long. You can find the closest one to your location via the following site:
In case you have a little more confidence and feel like running straight away, do think about time rather than distance at first. Half an hour of uninterrupted jogging is an achievable goal for anyone, and the first step to strengthening your overall endurance. Start out by getting that total of 30 minutes. If you need to take a break, stop the clock and continue walking until you feel ready to pick it up again. Then restart the timer, and on we go! Distance does not matter, but don’t cheat by keeping the clock running when you take a break. Once 30 minutes have become an easy performance, you can extend the same process to get to the full hour.
From there on out, you can start thinking about short distances and challenging your own time records. 5k is a good base line in that aspect, which should no longer trouble you at that point. Do make a conscious choice when picking your route and stick to it! You will find it is much easier to pace yourself once you know your trail by heart. You don’t necessarily have to choose hilly terrain for this exercise, but since you always measure yourself over the exact same route, you might consider that as a next step.
Another possibility would be to try interval exercises. In this case, I would exceptionally recommend the concrete paths around your local football pitch. Do prepare by jogging there while setting a number of rounds as a goal, according to your feeling and determination of the day. Once you’re there, begin ticking off your laps without interruption. Rather than stopping, keep going while alternating between slow, medium, and fast rounds. You can then increase difficulty by doing two consecutive laps at elevated speed, followed by just one slow round. So, don’t hesitate, let your creativity and ambition run wild!
While I am a big advocate for music to support yourself while exercising, a small word of advice: don’t let yourself get carried away by the tunes! It may seem obvious, but since it recently happened to me again, I will highlight it nevertheless. Do chose your songs carefully. If you compile a playlist for that purpose, great! But make sure to put those bangers at the end when you need them the most. Otherwise you might end up giving it your all at the beginning, which will only increase your struggle in the long run. Pun intended.