Cardio Exercise: Maximize Muscle Burn (cont.)
Cardio's Best Fat Burner
So you want the bottom line: Which cardio exercise will fat-bust the best?
"Running is the best option for calorie burning, in my opinion," says Niki Kimbrough, personal fitness expert with Bally Total Fitness. "Whether it's outside or on a treadmill, it's the best exercise because you're burning calories and you're strengthening your legs and heart -- it'll get you nice and lean."
Beginners should start with 20 minutes, explains Kimbrough, and work their way up.
"It takes about 20 minutes for your body to get going, and then your body starts to kick it to another level," says Kimbrough. "Ideally, you want to run for about 30 or 45 minutes."
For those with bad knees, Kimbrough recommends the elliptical machine as a good second choice.
In case running isn't your game, Kravitz takes another track.
"I really feel the most important message is to chose a cardio modality or modalities that you like," says Kravitz. "Because in the final outcome, if a person enjoys a mode of exercise, that is what all research shows they will choose."
Splitting It Up
"In order to achieve the best results, and also in order to maintain a healthy heart, it is best to not split up your cardio workouts," says Austin. "You need the consistency of 20 minutes or more of an elevated pulse to ensure great results. However, something is better than nothing. If all the time you have is 10 minutes or even five minutes, it is better than sitting still; you will still be garnished benefits and lose weight."
Kick Up Your Cardio
Let's be honest -- cardio exercise can get boring after awhile. How can you jazz it up and make it interesting again? The experts recommend never letting it get stale in the first place.
"I believe you should do different types of cardio exercises during the course of a week, if possible," says Austin. "The thing to remember is that too much repetition will fatigue muscles and you will plateau, which will slow your results down. By adding variety to your workouts you give muscle groups a chance to recover on their days off and you can maintain a steady progress."
Kravitz agrees with adding options to cardio exercise.
"Vary the mode, vary the place you train, vary the workout, vary the time of day, vary the intensity of the workout, vary the duration -- vary, vary, vary," says Kravitz. "That is what I have found to work the best for exercise compliance."
Before starting a new exercise program, it is important to have a discussion with your doctor about types and levels of activity. Your doctor can advise on any limitations or restrictions you may have.
Originally published Feb. 19, 2004.
SOURCES: Denise Austin, author, Shrink Your Female Fat Zones; founder, www.deniseaustin.com, New York. Tommy Boone, PhD, founding member, American Society of Exercise Physiologists, chair, department of exercise physiology, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minn. Niki Kimbrough, personal fitness expert, Bally Total Fitness, New York. Len Kravitz, PhD, senior exercise physiologist, IDEA Health and Fitness Association, coordinator, health and science, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
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