Crank up the cardio: part two of Black Swan Health’s exercise series

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Cardio Exercise - Black Swan Health

Whether you hop, skip, ski or swim, regular cardiovascular (or aerobic) exercise boasts significant health benefits for each and every one of us, particularly those living with a chronic condition or a mental illness. Regular ‘cardio’ can not only be attributed to weight loss, healthier arteries, and greater heart and lung function, but also contributes to an improved mood, increased energy and sharper mental function.

Eenie, meenie, miney, moh!

You don’t need a gym membership to get your heart pumping. Why not try walking, running, swimming at the beach or climbing stairs at your local oval and enjoy the fresh air? For those who have access to a gym or some equipment at home, you may also like to try kickboxing, skipping rope, circuit training, rowing or cycling! With so many options there’s no doubt that you’ll find something that works for you, and have enough variety to do something different each day of the week if you prefer to mix things up.

Whichever activity you choose, Black Swan Health Physiotherapist Simone Berzen encourages those new to regular cardio to ease in to your new routine, gradually increasing your effort on a weekly basis.

Ready, set, run

The latest recommendation from the World Health Organisation is to aim for 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity per week, with people living with a chronic disease to exercise at a moderate intensity. If you have access to a heart rate monitor then the example below is a good guideline:

  • Start with 5 to 10 minutes of cardio at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This measurement can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220, and multiplying that number by 0.6 or 0.7. For example: 220 – 35 = 185 (x 0.6) = 111
  • After a week or two you will start feeling stronger and can start building up the time spent exercising until you can comfortably work at the same intensity for 30 minutes at a time.
  • You can then start to increase your intensity by 10 percent until you are working at 75 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. 75 percent of maximum heart rate generally represents moderate cardiovascular effort.

Please note, it is recommended that you follow the sound advice of your doctor before embarking on an exercise program as each individual is different.

Remember, every little bit counts and it’s okay to have a day off if you are feeling unwell (or your blood glucose level is too high or too low or blood pressure is too high or too low). Pace yourself and never exercise to the point of exhaustion, and most importantly have fun!

Click here for Part 3: Strength.

If you have a chronic condition and would like to find out how Black Swan Health can help, call us on (08) 9201 0044 or email info@blackswanhealth.com.au.