Keeping Up With Cardio


Have you ever wanted to begin a cardio routine but didn’t know where to start? Or maybe you already have developed a habit, but don’t know if you are getting the most out of it? If you find yourself in this situation, we have some great recommendations to improve your health benefits through this form of exercise. 

According to The Department of Health and Human Services, there are a couple of methods we can use to reap maximum benefits.

150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio weekly: This may seem like a long time, but it can be broken down into more manageable pieces, like 30 minutes for 5 days a week. These 30 minute sessions don’t even have to be done consecutively. If you prefer smaller chunks, it can be further broken into two 15 minute sessions or three 10 minute sessions.

75 minutes of vigorous intensity cardio weekly: You can break it up into three 25 minute sessions or five 15 minute sessions.

How do you know the intensity of your cardio workout? Your heart rate tells all.

The goal for moderate intensity cardio is a target heart rate of 64% to 76% of your maximum heart rate. Vigorous intensity activity is a bit higher—the target is between 77% and 93% of your maximum heart rate. 

For example, if you are 20 years old:

  • Moderate intensity cardio should put your heart rate at 128 bpm – 152 bpm.
  • High intensity cardio would put your heart rate at 154 bpm – 186 bpm.

How do you figure out what your maximum heart rate is and what those percentage numbers are for you personally?

The CDC can walk you through calculating target heart rate goals based on the intensity of your workout and age. The American Heart Association also has this handy dandy chart for quick reference to estimate your target heart rate.

You can keep track of your heart rate a couple of different ways. First, if the cardio machine has a heart rate monitor built in on the handles, that is the simplest method you can utilize. Another way is to have a personal heart rate monitor and track it yourself either directly from the monitor or from a device it is connected to. Lastly, you can track it manually by taking your pulse for 6 seconds, then multiplying that number by 10 to calculate your heart rate. So, if you count to 16 when taking your pulse for 6 seconds, multiply that number by 10. That gives you a heart rate of 160 bpm.

If you’re looking to give cardio a try or improve your own methods, head to the SDFC! Here, we have a variety of resources within your reach to help you succeed: 

If machines are your jam, these are some that are available:

  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical
  • Rowing machine
  • Stair stepper

If you’d rather not use a machine, there are some other options for you: