Learning How To Cardio Exercise To Get Results

When I talk about exercise in this blog, I mean cardio exercise. In addition to consistently trying to increase your physical activity, you still need cardio exercise to dramatically reduce your risk of disease.

I strongly recommend that everyone gradually work up to from thirty to forty-five minutes of moderate-intensity cardio (aerobic) exercise four times per week. Start slowly and work up to this level. The amount of time this will take depends, of course, on the level you’re starting from.

Note: Before starting any exercise program, first check with your physician to ensure that you’re able to do regular exercise. If you haven’t been physically active, start slowly with five to ten minutes, four times per week, and build up to your goal. Always warm up before you exercise.

A short time after you start an exercise program four days per week, you’ll notice you have more energy, better concentration, a greater sense of well-being, an improved mood, and better sleep.

For some, this happens very quickly, while for others, it takes a little longer. Diabetics find that their blood sugars improve with exercise. Patients with high blood pressure find that their readings get better, too.


Regular cardio exercise not only will reduce your risk of getting many common cancers, but also, if you have had breast cancer, prostate, or colon cancer, for example, a cardio exercise program may help to reduce your risk of recurrence. Cardio exercise is also a tremendous way to reduce stress.

Patients often ask what kind of cardio exercise I recommend. My overall answer is, “Whatever you think you would most enjoy.” Here, nevertheless, are some specific suggestions:

• Power walking outside or on a treadmill
• Running on a treadmill (or outside)
• Exercise bike
• Elliptical machine
• Rowing machine
• Stepper
• Aerobics class
• Team sports like volleyball, hockey, soccer, basketball
• Aqua-fit
• Spinning class
• Stair climbing
• Swimming

Exercising with a friend is usually more fun and helps to keep you motivated.

Team sports are worth considering, as long as you can get sufficient playing time. Mix up your exercise, too, to find what you like best and to avoid boredom.


What should your goal be in terms of exercise intensity? There are a number of methods for measuring exercise intensity. Here are two approaches I suggest. If you do not like them, go to this site to read about another different approach.

The Huff and Puff Rule

Gradually build up to thirty to forty-five minutes of huffing and puffing such that it is challenging to talk at the same time. (But not to the point where you’re unable to talk.)

Heart Rate Target

woman-doing-exercise-for-her-abdominal-areaTo determine your ideal heart rate target (pending your own physician’s approval), use the following standard unisex formula:

(220 – your age) x 60%

As your fitness level improves, you can gradually increase your heart rate target to a maximum of 85%.

You can determine your heart rate by using a heart rate monitor, or by counting your pulse for ten seconds and multiplying that by six to get your rate for a full minute. You can find your pulse on the outer edge of your wrist or use the carotid pulse in your neck.

EXAMPLE: Mark is a healthy fifty-year-old man. His initial target heart rate would be: 220 – 50 = 170 170 x .6 = 102 heartbeats per minute
Mark should work up to a target heart rate of:
220 – 50 = 170 and 170 x .85 = 144 heartbeats per minute

Whether you use the simple Huff and Puff Rule or the Target Heart Rate method, work up to your exercise goal at a comfortable, sustainable pace.

If you’re not used to exercising, begin slowly. Begin by increasing your physical activity, and then move into short sessions of cardio exercise, starting at five to ten minutes, four days a week.

Gradually increase to thirty to forty-five minutes, four days per week. The first few days of exercise will be the hardest. After that, you’ll find your improvements to be exponential and the benefits to be astonishing.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what time of the day you choose to exercise. Mornings work for some, while afternoons or evenings are better for others. Do what works best for you – Remember – there are seven days in a week; exercising just three or four days out of the seven will dramatically change your life. You’re likely to identify many barriers or excuses for skipping exercise. Let me offer several tools to help you power on.

Your Exercise Toolkit: Exercise Buddy

I encourage you to find someone to exercise with. Power walk with a friend, join a power walking group or a running group, play squash, or go regularly to an aerobics class or spinning class at your local community center, YMCA, or gym. The socialization and sense of community that often develops will make the exercise seem less tedious. And the other benefits – new friendships and increased energy and well-being – will motivate you to keep exercising.


Link exercise with something you enjoy and are already doing. If you like watching TV, do so while you use a treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical machine, or rowing machine for forty-five minutes. If movies are your passion, watch the first hour while you’re on your treadmill. A patient of mine liked to watch a lot of sports events on TV. He decided he would watch these events only if he was on the treadmill. Most libraries allow free downloads of audio books in MP3 format, which is great entertainment while power walking.

Assembling a collection of your favorite upbeat music can make exercise an enjoyable time to listen to music.

Remain Mindful of Portion Size If You Want To Get Slimmer

Portion creep in commercial products has not been limited to foods such as hamburgers and fries. Desserts have also grown to be gigantic. Even when you’re on the Weight Maintenance part of any program, restaurant desserts should be shared. No one can force you to eat gigantic portions.Health

Artificial Sweeteners

So, if sugar is to be limited for health reasons (even apart from weight loss), are artificial sweeteners okay? I wish I could say yes, but the simple answer is no! Those who drink diet beverages often do so in large quantities. Over years, that equates to a large consumption of a very unhealthy artificial product.

Although the US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have approved a number of sweeteners, recent studies suggest that these chemicals may increase one’s desire for sweets and therefore lead to higher sugar consumption overall.

Because these artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than naturally occurring sugars (160 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar), they are thought to trick the brain into wanting even more sweets.

Even though the science is not conclusive, it’s best to stay away from artificial sweeteners altogether. My observation, in helping people lose weight, is that artificial sweeteners can be a significant barrier to their success. I encourage eating as naturally as possible – real food. If you’re committed to losing weight, I recommend that you stop consumption of all diet drinks and artificial sweeteners whether in coffee, cereal, or baked goods.

I also worry that “sugar free” gives license to overindulge. Five sugar-free cookies will still give you too much fat and salt. It’s not uncommon to see people ordering a diet drink with their burger and fries. They seem to feel that, because they’re avoiding sugar in their drink, they can load up on salt and fat from the burger and fries.

I recommend that, instead of adding artificial sweeteners to your diet, you work on reducing the amount of sugar you eat every day.

By aggressively decreasing your added sugar, you’ll hardly miss it over time and ultimately will find sugary products too sweet. After about thirty days, natural flavors will seem pleasantly sweet and your desire for desserts and candies will diminish. Knowing where all the hidden sugars lurk puts you well on your way to a permanently healthier lifestyle.

The key to this article and better health is to:

• Read food labels for sugar content
• Remember that 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon

Never Feeling Deprived

Victor is a forty-three-year-old businessman. His BMI was 35, and his blood pressure was elevated at 150/95. Victor was at risk for stroke because of his elevated blood pressure. He was at significant risk for developing diabetes, because his BMI was in the obesity category. Here is his story in his own words:

I have now lost 29 pounds using the Health First program. I feel so much better about my life.

Until I started this program, I had been gaining 2 pounds every year, and I was afraid of the weight I would be at by age fifty. I no longer worry about that. I feel like I have hit the reset button.

The thing I love most about this program is that I never have to count calories. I don’t ever feel deprived. Stopping all the diet pop was hard to do initially. I was drinking two Diet Cokes a day, but now I’m drinking lots of water and green tea instead. Drinking water deals with my thirst.

When I want tea, I drink green tea from tea bags – no longer from bottles of green tea since I now realize these have lots of sugar. I stay away from artificial sweeteners in all drinks. I love the idea of keeping a budget for my food portions. It is so easy to do.

I use my treadmill four times a week. Exercise is now how I deal with my stress. I enjoy listening to podcasts or music with my exercise. It’s “my time.” I never go more than two days without using my treadmill. I just went away for a seven-day holiday with no treadmill on the property, so I just did power walking with my music every other day.

Earlier in this blog, I had to stay very focused, but now it’s just second nature to eat this way. I’m still losing about 2 to 3 pounds per week, and will be reaching my goal weight very soon. I feel very confident that I can eat this way for the rest of my life, no question about it.