Exercising in your target heart rate zone improves cardiovascular health. As your fitness level improves, you will find that some activities are no longer challenging. For example, your regular 30-minute walk on a flat trail may not increase your heartbeat and respiration enough to reach your target zone. You will need to find new ways to raise your heart rate without giving up the activities you enjoy.
Move your arms overhead
When you raise your arms, your heart rate elevates. This allows you to increase the intensity of almost any activity. When walking, alternate punching your right and left fists overhead. When jogging or marching in place, move your arms out and up like jumping jacks.
Add an incline
Whether you are outside or at the gym, climbing a hill raises your heart rate. Include hills in your walking or jogging route, or increase the grade on the treadmill.
Cardio machines, like elliptical trainers and bikes, have resistance settings that make the movement more challenging. When you are in the pool, water weights and hand paddles make moving through the water more difficult. All of these forms of resistance help to increase your heart rate.
Switch to intervals
If you can’t sustain a higher intensity activity for an extended period, work in intervals to help increase your heart rate. Alternate jogging and walking, walk on a flat surface and then add a hill, or alternate between cycling segments with and without resistance. Raising the heart rate and then allowing for a short recovery will help you maintain a higher heart rate throughout the workout without pushing you to exhaustion.
Choose cardio boosting strength moves
You don’t have to separate your cardio and strength training. Exercises that engage larger muscle groups and move the body up and down increase heart rate. Squats, lunges and burpees are good examples of exercises that build strength while keeping your heart rate elevated.
You don’t have to lay on a mat to strengthen and tone abdominal muscles. There are moves you can do anytime and anywhere to get an effective ab workout.
Practicing good posture requires that you pull in your abdominal muscles to support your core. When carrying yourself this way, focus stays on the abs. Tightening the abs creates small contractions that helps to build strength.
Lifting your knees high towards your chest while marching or jogging in place forces you to contract the abdominal muscles. This is a cardio and core strengthening move that you can incorporate into your current workout or squeeze in during television commercials.
Standing Cross-over Crunches
Cross-over crunches can be done while standing to challenge the obliques (the muscles that line the side of your waistline). Contract the abdominals as you lift your right knee towards your chest, and bring your left elbow down to meet it. Complete all repetitions on one side before switching. Add a slight hop with each crunch to boost the intensity.
Add this yoga move to your cool down. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your left foot stationary, and turn your right foot 90 degrees outwards. Raise both arms out to your sides so they are parallel to the floor. Turn your head towards your right hand. Bend your right knee and shift your weight forward while keeping the left leg straight. Your right knee should be aligned with the center of your right foot. Step the feet further apart if necessary. Keep your abdominals contracted to support your core and hold for 15 to 30 seconds before switching to the other side.
If your calorie intake and exercise have stayed consistent but you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, try increasing your exercise intensity. When repeating the same workouts day after day, your body can grow accustomed to the activity. Often a boost of intensity will help you break through a plateau to reach your weight loss goal. Add a more intense workout to your routine one to two times per week. If you walk, incorporate intervals of faster walking or jogging, or add hills to your course. If you jog, try adding a few sprints. Strength training circuits can be boosted by adding cardio moves like jumping jacks or jogging-in-place between sets.
Your heart isn’t beating faster.
An increase in heart rate and breathing is a sign that you are working at a level that improves cardiovascular fitness. Exercising at a moderate intensity is the key to improving heart health and burning calories. If you can easily carry on a conversation and barely break a sweat during your workouts, it might be time to step up the intensity.
Your muscles aren’t fatigued.
Increasing muscular strength requires following the overload principle. Your muscles must be challenged (overloaded) by the weight to gain strength. Once muscles get comfortable with the amount of weight you are lifting, fitness gains level out. The last 8 to 12 repetitions of each set should be challenging to complete. If you fly through your sets without exerting an effort, it’s time to increase the amount of weight you lift.
You want to exercise less.
You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to lose weight, but if you want to cut your exercise time to 20 minutes, you need to increase the intensity. Research shows that shorter, more intense workouts (often called high-intensity interval training) are effective for improved fitness and weight loss. This type of exercise is a good fit for those with limited time to commit to workouts or those prone to exercise boredom and burnout.
A vacation spot that supports an active lifestyle keeps you motivated during travel. Fitness-focused cities offer bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly paths and crosswalks, and places with beautiful scenery provide an enjoyable environment that encourages you to get moving. In these locales, sitting in a lounge chair might be less inviting.
Choose your hotel wisely.
It’s tempting to choose out-of-the-way hotels to get a better price. Unfortunately, these hotels often force you to jump in the car to sight-see. Instead, choose lodging that is accessible to local attractions. Park the car and walk to restaurants, museums, and other sites.
Do your restaurant research.
If you don’t eat healthy meals during your vacation, you won’t feel like being active. Eating heavy, high-fat fried foods and overloading on carbohydrates and alcohol can make you lethargic and unmotivated. Find the best healthy restaurants, and make sure they are accessible from your hotel. Enjoy some treats, but stick with your usual healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein to stay energized and active.
Plan an activity each day.
You don’t have to work out on vacation to stay fit. Incorporating activity into your travel to-do list is a healthy way to spend time away from the gym. Take a walking tour of local sights, hike to the end of a trail for great views, sign up for a bike tour, or learn a new watersport. If you turn your exercise into fun, you’ll stay active on vacation without sacrificing time with friends and family.
The gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, or glutes, are the muscles of the buttocks. Strengthening these muscles gives you more than a toned backside. Glutes surround the pelvis and keep it aligned with your legs and torso during movement. Weak gluteal muscles have been linked to a variety of injuries such as shin splints and Achilles tendinitis. Additionally, many activities, like running, strengthen the leg muscles but have little effect on glute strength, and can cause a muscular imbalance .
Research shows that the squat is the most effective exercise for targeting the glutes, but you can add variety to your workouts with a few other exercises that are nearly as effective. Incorporate 1 to 3 sets of these exercises to target your glute muscles and reduce risk for injuries.
Select a step or box that is 12 to 15 inches high. Push it up against the wall to help keep it steady. Stand on the box and shift your weight to your right foot. Slightly bend your left knee to lift your left foot off the box. Slow squat down by bending your right knee and raise back up to the starting position. Single-leg squats are more challenging than traditional squats so you may only be able to lower 3 to 6 inches. As your strength increases, try to bend the knee more and sit back further to lower into a deeper squat. Repeat all repetitions before switching to your left foot.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand facing your box. Step onto the box with your right foot. Allow your left leg to stay straight and relaxed, but do not allow it to rest on the box. Lower back down to the floor leading with your left foot. Repeat all repetitions on one side before switching legs.
Stand holding weights in both hands with your palms facing your thighs. Keep your back straight as you bend at the hips and lower the weights towards the floor. Allow your left knee to bend slightly as you extend your right leg behind you. Lower the weights to about shin height and use your glutes to lift your right leg until it is parallel to the floor. Your body should be in a straight line from your shoulder to your heel. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat all repetitions on one leg before switching to the other side.
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step with your right foot forward. Bend your right knee and lower your thigh parallel to the floor as you also bend your left knee. Keep your front knee in line with the center of your foot. Stand back up and step your left foot to meet your right. Next, step forward with your left foot. Do 4 to 6 alternating walking lunges in one direction. Turn around and perform the walking lunges back in the other direction.