On Monday, we talked about running and how it doesn't have to be a grueling process. However, I wanted to talk a little bit more about the many other ways to increase cardiovascular endurance.
Aerobic fitness is most commonly known as “cardio.” Aerobic exercises stimulate and strengthen the heart in order to improve its pumping efficiency. They also activate your immune system and elevate your mood through the increase of endorphins (happy hormone).
Most aerobic exercises are low intensity and are performed for longer periods of time. Walking, interval training, rowing, cycling, hiking, dancing, cross-country skiing, swimming, fast walking, and kickboxing are some great examples of fun aerobic exercises.
A great way to increase circulation and promote cardiovascular health is by performing cardio workouts 2-3 times a week. Dance is a great source of cardio, however, there are many other types of cardio that dancers should try.
Jumping on a trampoline and jumping rope promote lymph drainage by using gravity to increase lymph flow without stressing the body. There are specialized trampoline workouts that you can follow either online or at your local gym. If you choose to jump-rope, make sure you wear supportive sneakers that will protect your feet and Achilles tendon.
Swimming is great for increasing aerobic capacity and strengthens the mid and upper body muscles. Studies have found that walking in the water can reduce lower back pain. It is also great for stress reduction. Swimming allows your muscles and joints to relax and float, washing away stress and tension. The resistance of the water helps tone muscles and the regulated breathing patterns help you take in more oxygen. It is good to try different strokes to work on different parts of your body. Alternate between breaststroke, backstroke, and freestyle.
Running can be very hard on a dancer’s joints and ligaments so I do not usually recommend it. However, if you do choose to run, try performing intervals. Fast walk for 10 minutes then run for 10 minutes. Make sure you wear supportive running shoes to support your Achilles, ankles, and arches. While you are running, make sure you are engaging all your leg muscles to prevent over-exercising of one area. Use your thighs and hips to take pressure off your knees and roll through your good to take the pressure off your feet and ankles.
Aerobic fitness has many benefits, some of which include:
- The increase of oxygen in the body
- Improved circulation
- Lower blood pressure
- Increase in red blood cell count making the transport of oxygen more efficient
- Improved mental health
- Lower stress levels
- Reduced risk of depression and diabetes
- Increase in blood flow to the muscles
- Enhanced recovery time
- Increased blood oxygen levels
- Increased endurance
- Increased ability to detoxify
Too much cardio can cause overuse injuries and can also weaken your heart if performed too often. Limit your cardio routine to only twice a week for about 30 minutes.
What is your favorite way to get your cardio in?
Always remember that cardio is just as important as strength training. Balancing both, along with resistance training, is going to make you a well-rounded, fit individual. Don't forget to check out my book, A Dancer's Diary, on help creating your very own fitness routine.
Until next time,
The information found in this post is directly from A Dancer's Diary book and is copyrighted. Please do not copy or re-post any part of this post without the author's written consent. Thank you!