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Hit Your Stride | Cardio Fitness
How To Walk, Run, Step, Pedal, And Simply Move Your Way To Better Health

By Marina Rose, QDNA®

The Magnificent Human Experience | Exercise & Lifestyle

July 01, 2015

“If you want a dancer's body, dance!" ----Tracy Anderson, Author
                           30-Day Method: The Weight-Loss Kick-Start

Some people love a brisk early morning outdoor hike. Others like to get in their groove and dance away to their favorite Zumba tunes. While even more find that cardio kickboxing packs quite a mean punch.

Whether it's a long sunset run on the beach, stepping those stairs that seem to go nowhere, or spinning and pushing your pedals on a bike, if you want exercise that improves your life, health and fitness, look no further than cardio.

Cardio Fitness: The Heart of the Matter

Cardio exercise, also called Aerobics, is any exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you breathing. Aerobic literally means "living in air", and refers to the increase use of oxygen intake when performing sustained cardiovascular movement. The opposite of Cardio or Aerobics is anaerobic exercise, such as strength or weight training. In the simplest terms, the difference comes down to oxygen. With aerobic exercise, oxygen is carried through your breath directly to the muscles in the body, giving them the energy needed to sustain the effort. This increased oxygen intake is not present with anaerobic exercise, which instead relies on short bursts of power and strength.

Exercise requires energy.

When we exercise aerobically our bodies use glycogen and fat as fuel to energize us. This low to moderate level of exertion can be sustained over very long periods of time by burning the body’s stored fat. This is why Cardio is so good for getting lean and for weight loss.

Let’s face it our bodies were made to move, and we all know that to keep our muscles in great shape we need to move them. Cardio exercises use large muscle movement while maintaining our heart rate at least 50% of its maximum level. This type of exercise creates a host of benefits, inside and out, and over time, with consistent training, it becomes easy to see that the gains are not in not just in our physical health, but in our overall mental health as well.

The best news yet is that Cardio exercises come in a huge variety of options. From outdoor pursuits such as walking, running, hiking, cycling, rowing and swimming, to the best gym and indoor workouts such as step, spinning, jumping, dance and the classic treadmill. There are even a slew of new non-traditional Cardio workouts popping on the scene like Zumba, kickboxing, indoor spring loaded running shoes, and even twisting the hula-hoop (yes, that’s great cardio too!)—just to name a few. Whatever your fancy, the most important thing is to just get moving.

Healthy Mind & Healthy Body

The physical benefits of cardio exercise abound. According to Dr. Michael Olpin of Weber State University, Cardio produces benefits for your mind, body and heart. A walk or a run improves your concentration and mood, reducing tension and releasing endorphins, your brain's "feel good" hormones. This type of exercise also reduces your appetite and helps your body use fat for energy, which leads to greater weight loss over time.

The health benefits of Cardio exercise are almost too many to name, but here are a few of the most important:

• Better Sleep
• Reduced Stress
• Increased Energy
• Improved Muscle Mass
• Increased Bone Density
• Stronger Heart & Lungs
• Stimulates Bone Growth
• Reduced Risk of Diabetes
• Reduced Risk of Osteoporosis
• Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
• Reduction In Mood Swings & Depression
• Improved Blood Cholesterol & Triglyceride Levels

In addition to the health benefits of Cardio exercise, there are numerous performance benefits as well:

• Increases storage of energy molecules such as fats and carbohydrates within the muscles, allowing for increased endurance.

• Neovascularization of the muscle sarcomeres to increase blood flow through the muscles.

• Increases speed at which aerobic metabolism is activated within muscles, allowing a greater portion of energy for intense exercise
to be generated aerobically.

• Improves the ability of muscles to use fats during exercise, preserving intramuscular glycogen.

• Enhances the speed at which muscles recover from high intensity exercise.

Many Cardio exercises such as running are also high impact on the body, so it is important to choose an activity that is a good match for your overall age and health, particularly if there are prior injuries. Both the health benefits and the performance benefits also require a minimum duration and frequency of exercise, also known as the "training effect".

The American College of Sports Medicine and the CDC recommend that adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week, in order to maintain heath." says Len Kravitz, PhD, senior exercise physiologist for IDEA Health and Fitness Association, who is also a coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico. "And to improve cardiovascular endurance, they recommend 20 to 60 minutes on three to five days per week."

So if you can’t finish a sentence while doing your workout, then you are going at it too hard. If you are having no trouble talking step it up. Remember that you need a minimum of 20 minutes of continued elevated pulse to get the best results and see the "training effect", and at least 3 times a week.

No time to work out?

Be creative.

If you are finding that your busy life leaves little time for more structured exercise, remember that you can easily get a good Cardio workout from the basic activities we do every day. Try walking up those office stairs at the office, instead of taking the elevator. Or mow the lawn at a Cardio pace, while listening to your favorite iTunes. Every bit helps contribute to your overall weekly exercise goals.

Also be sure to eat well.

Cardio exercises will burn fat. Weight loss comes from burning more calories than you take in, and Cardio does a great job of using stored body fat to provide energy. Even when you see no specific weight loss you are still getting many other great benefits from a Cardio workout, so incorporate even a short 20 minute aerobic jaunt into your daily routine, and in stick with it.

Get In The Zone

“Get in your zone!”. We’ve all heard it said, but what does it actually mean.

The steady-state pace of aerobic exercise puts your body in a place where it's capable of long term endurance. When the heart rate and breathing are just right, we find “our zone” and the body feels like it’s performing effortlessly. According to Paul Arciero, Ph.D., a professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore College, "Your heart rate, breath, and muscle contractions get into a rhythm." Experts call it entrainment, but it just feels like you're in the zone. Your body is in a state of performance equilibrium, but at a higher calorie burning, breathing, and circulation than your baseline. You know that you’re in the zone when you get that dialed-in feeling, where body motion and effort seamlessly synchronize. Endurance increases, the body also releases endorphins to elevate your mood and fend off stress. This type of slow-and-steady cardio zone workout, can be achieved with any of the many types of aerobic workouts.

How to you get into the zone?

Heart rate training zones are calculated by taking into consideration your Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax) and your Resting Heart Rate (HRrest). Within each training zone, subtle physiological effects take place to enhance your fitness.

Knowing your Target Heart Rate is key. There are many excellent heart rate monitors available for just this purpose. They are inexpensive, small, light weight and easy to use and wear while exercising. If you’re not quite ready to invest in equipment, you can also obtain your Target Heart Rate online at a number of sites that offer online calculators. Cardio Heart Rate training zones vary for each sport and activity, and different systems of training also may vary. In general though, target training zones fall into the following categories:

Zone 1: The Recovery Zone
This zone falls in the 60% to 70% of Heart Rate Reserve
Training within this zone develops basic endurance and aerobic capacity. All easy recovery Cardio should be performed at a maximum of 70%. Another advantage to working out in this zone is that while you are happily fat burning you may lose weight, and you will be allowing your muscles to re-energize with glycogen, which has been expended during those faster paced workouts.

Zone 2: The Aerobic Zone
This zone falls in the 70% to 80% of Heart Rate Reserve
Training in this zone will develop your cardiovascular system. The body's ability to transport oxygen to--and carbon dioxide away from— the body’s muscles. The working muscles will be develop and improve strength while training in this zone. As you become fitter and stronger from training in this zone it will then be possible to extend your training time and increase endurance.

Zone 3: The Anaerobic Zone
This zone falls in the 80% to 90% of Heart Rate Reserve
Training in this zone will develop your lactic acid system. In this zone, your individual anaerobic threshold (AT) is found - sometimes referred to the point of deflection (POD). During these heart rates, the amount of fat being utilized as the main source of energy is greatly reduced and glycogen stored in the muscle is predominantly used. One of the by-products of burning this glycogen is lactic acid. There is a point at which the body can no longer remove the lactic acid from the working muscles quickly enough. This is your anaerobic threshold (AT). Through the correct training, it is possible to delay the AT by being able to increase your ability to deal with the lactic acid for a longer period of time or by pushing the AT higher.

Zone 4: The Red Line Zone
This zone falls in the 90% to 100% of Heart Rate Reserve
Training in this zone will only be possible for short periods. It effectively trains your fast twitch muscle fibers and helps to develop speed. This zone is reserved for activities such as interval running and only the very fit are able to train effectively within this zone.

There are many other heart rate variations for a given intensity or training zone. They are usually due to an improvement in fitness, but a number of other factors also contribute to the change, such as:

•Dehydration can increase the heart rate by up to 7.5%
•Heat and humidity can increase the heart rate by 10 beats/minute
•Altitude can increase the heart rate by 10 to 20%, even when acclimatized
•Biological variation can mean the heart rate varies from day to day by 2 to 4 beats/minute

Good Cardio training is highly personalized, and the above training zones should be used merely as a guide. As with any exercise or fitness program you should always consult with a well qualified trainer who can help you customize your workouts to achieve maximum results.

A Body In Motion Stays In Motion

Remember one of Newton's key laws is “a body in motion stays in motion”.

Or not.

You would be surprised.

As many as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States alone are attributable to a lack of regular physical activity. Over the past four decades, numerous scientific reports have looked at the relationships between physical activity, physical fitness, and cardiovascular health. Experts with organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and the American Heart Association (AHA), have all reinforced scientific evidence linking regular physical activity to a healthy heart and body. The prevailing view in these reports is that the more active or fit we are, the less likely we are to develop heart disease and other health issues compared to our sedentary counterparts. This may seem like a no brainer in an ever increasing fitness oriented society, but the fact is, obesity and a host other serious health issues attributed to lack of regular exercise is a real and persistent problem.

In addition, studies that followed large groups of individuals for many years have well documented the protective effects of physical activity for a number of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, such as non–insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and colon cancer.

In contrast, there is a much higher rate of cardiovascular events and a higher death rate in those individuals with low levels of physical fitness. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the five major risk factors, along with high blood pressure, smoking and obesity for cardiovascular disease, as outlined by the AHA. Reducing these risk factors and beginning regular cardiovascular exercise was identified as key to lowering these risks.

Even midlife increases in physical activity, through later changes in lifestyle, are associated with an improved life expectancy, despite a more sedentary youth. This goes to show that it’s never too late to start exercising and still reap the benefits.

Despite this evidence however, the vast majority of adults in the United States remain effectively sedentary. Less than one-third of Americans meets the minimal recommendations for activity as outlined by the CDC, ACSM, and AHA expert panels. That may surprise most of us, since we are constantly bombarded with healthy, fit and slim figures throughout the media, but the hard stats on the reality of our national health paints an entirely different picture.

The good news is that even just a short amount of Cardio exercise performed regularly can set your body in motion and radically improve your health. A good weekly program of even moderate exercise, when combined with other lifestyle modifications such as healthy nutrition, can be dramatic.

For example, exercise can reduce “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (the low-density lipoprotein [LDL] level), as well as total cholesterol, and can raise the “good” cholesterol (the high-density lipoprotein level [HDL]). In diabetic patients, regular activity favorably affects the body’s ability to use insulin to control glucose levels in the blood.

Patients with newly diagnosed heart disease who participate in an exercise program also report increased health benefits, such as an earlier return to work and improvements in other aspects of quality of life, such as more self-confidence, lower stress, and less anxiety.

This Is Your Brain On Cardio

If you thought that Cardio was just good for your body and spirit, and then you should know what is does for your brain.

Those early morning runs will not only give you a trim body and an elevated mood, but adding more Cardio to your life will also ratchet up your smarts, boost your productivity, and rev up your overall energy as well, according to recent studies performed by Harvard Medical School, the University of Illinois and other research studies.

Even one 30-minute cardio session pumps extra blood to your brain, delivering the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at maximum efficiency. Cardio also floods the brain with chemicals that enhance functions such as memory, problem solving, and decision making. New research has found that this kind of exercise may even cause permanent structural changes to the brain itself. Now how’s that for a workout!

Anyone who has ever cranked a workout on a Stairmaster has a pretty good idea of what happens to your body when you break a sweat, but most of us have no idea what's going on in our heads at the same time. All that extra blood that gets pumping bathes your brain cells in oxygen and glucose, two critical components to good, healthy brain function. The more they get, the better they perform.

"Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory," says Thomas Crook, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and memory researcher. "You're working out your brain at the same time as your heart."

Every muscle you move also sends hormones rushing to your brain. There, they mix with a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, which plays a role in brain cell growth, mood regulation, and learning. "BDNF is like fertilizer for the brain," says John J. Ratey, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Without it, our brains can't take in new information or make new cells."

And the brain boost that you get from Cardio isn't just about making you smarter. It has long been known that Cardio also has the power to lower your stress levels and to shake you out of that funky mood.

Exercise plays another vital role, in that it signals the release of several key hormones, including serotonin, the famed mood booster; dopamine, which affects learning and attention; and norepinephrine, which influences attention, perception, motivation, and arousal. This exercise-induced chemical cocktail has a powerful impact. "By elevating neurotransmitters in the brain, it helps us focus, feel better, and release tension," Ratey says.

Experienced regularly, all that rushing of blood and hormones primes your brain to grow. In one study, researchers scanned the brains of people who exercised for one hour per day, three days a week, for a duration of six months. They discovered an increase in the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning. Working out literally bulked up the study participants' brains, allowing them to perform better at tasks that require concentration and recall.

"Exercise improves attention, memory, accuracy, and how quickly you process information, all of which helps you make smarter decisions," says Charles H. Hillman, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The intensity of your workout makes a difference too. A study in Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that people learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster after intense exercise than after low-intensity activity. Those who did more-demanding exercise had a bigger spike in their brains' levels of BDNF, dopamine, and epinephrine afterward. So the more you challenge your body, the more your brain benefits.

The Sweet Spot

The evidence is clear, Cardio exercises help us lead a healthy, happy, and stress free life. Even if you lead a hectic and busy life, find time to incorporate a good Cardio exercise program into your weekly routine. You don’t have to train to run a marathon, just find that Sweet Spot that gives you just enough Cardio to keep your mind and body in shape. Squeezing in just a few minutes of physical exercise a day has huge benefits on your health—and as the saying goes, “Your health is your wealth”.

It’s important to realize that if we don’t take care of our heath we cannot enjoy the other good things life has to offer. Helping others find a clear path to improved health and wellbeing is one the key principles of QDNA®, Quantum DNA Acceleration®.

Whether to improve health and treat illness, or to develop the practice of living a balanced holistic healthy lifestyle, Quantum DNA Acceleration® can assist in clearing the negative effects of poor diet and nutrition and help to build a nurturing lifestyle that leads to a better, happier, more fulfilling life as well.

QDNA®, Quantum DNA Acceleration® offers a broad range of instructional programs, seminars and a complete line of essential oils to support health and healthy living.



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Marina Rose is the founder and developer of QDNA®, Quantum DNA Acceleration®, a revolutionary new technique for quantum growth in life and business. QDNA® uses the latest cutting edge science in Neuroplasticity and DNA Reprogramming to develop plans of action that activate solutions for you and your business needs. It compounds Quantum Field principles, Positive Psychology, and Epigenetics, in a powerful new technique to assist you to achieve desired results. Accelerate your life and business now.

This article was written and appears as part of the blog series The Magnificent Human Experience | Explorations of Consciousness And The Human Body.


Image Via: QDNA®/Photo © Serega K/Shutterstock

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Marina Rose is an alternative health pioneer who employs cutting edge techniques that sit squarely at the intersection of the most leading edge scientific research and the ancient arts of traditional mind-body-energy medicine. She is the founder and developer of QDNA®, Quantum DNA Acceleration®, a revolutionary new technique for quantum growth in life and business. She offers seminars, programs, lectures, and private sessions in QDNA® that accelerate personal and professional transformation.

Marina has been an alternative healing arts and wellness facilitator for the past twenty-one years and holds certifications in more than twenty-four healing modalities. She is a highly respected facilitator, educator and lecturer in the field, with private practice based in Venice, California. Marina is the author of numerous articles on health and wellness, and is the author of The Magnificent Human Experience: Explorations In Consciousness and The Human Body, a weekly blog dedicated to far ranging topics that bridge the worlds science, health and spirituality.

Marina Rose has clients in 60 countries and all over the United States. She is based in Los Angeles, CA and lectures and practices QDNA® in locations worldwide.

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