Suckin’ Wind

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that I wasn’t getting much activity that got my heart pounding or my lungs puffin’. It’s not that I wasn’t moving. I was. I move a lot. I wasn’t moving in a way that challenged my cardio fitness.

Cardio fitness refers to any activity that increases the heart and respiration rate (breathing) of your body. It involves the constant movement of the big muscle groups such as the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Running, walking, skating, dancing, cycling are all great examples of cardio activities. Doing any cardio activity can improve both the function and the performance of your heart, lungs and circulatory system. These make up our most vital life support network. The stronger those 3 components are the healthier you are!

I have been stuck in that all or nothing kind of attitude around cardio activities. There was a time when I was one of those matchy-matchy outfit cyclists/lycra clad runners that are seen rolling or running (actually it was more like jogging – who am I kidding) down the road. I felt if I didn’t get in that type of measured activity it didn’t count. There’s a funny meme that says “If you see me collapse, pause my Garmin.” Yup, that was me. I measured everything. The reality is that if you’re moving your body it counts where it really counts….in your body. It took me a while to acknowledge and accept this fact. The challenge is, without noticing, I actually stopped moving as much as I needed to. I changed that last week.

I’ve created a trail that runs through the woods to a pond on our property. From the pond it’s an uphill trek to the edge of the property behind the house. Then it’s downhill to the start of the trail. This is now my morning loop. It gets me out in nature (for my soul) and climbing that hill gets my heart beating and my lungs working. It’s a great way to start the day. As I settle into this habit I will increase the number of loops that I do. I’ve come to realize it doesn’t take a huge amount of time nor special equipment. In fact, I wear my rubber boots. You can bet I won’t be making the cover of a running magazine any time soon!

You don’t need a hill in your yard to build cardio fitness into your life. Some easy/accessible activities are:

  • Hill climbing – find a hill, any hill. If doing the whole thing is too much of a challenge, tackle it in smaller sections. Conversely, if you can do more than it offers you can do reps of it.
  • Stairs – great alternative to a hill. Take the steps one at a time or two a time.
  • Skipping – one of the best activities there is as it requires coordination as well as cardio strength. Start slow. Five jumps today are 5 more than you did yesterday.
  • Jumping up and down – get into a squat and jump and land in a squat. There, it’s like you’re 5 years old again!
  • Chase the dog – you’ll both have fun!
  • Run/skip/twirl – I did this the other day with my 3 year old niece. Enough said!

I’m on a kick to remind myself and every adult out there that will listen to me that movement is good. I understand that feeling like you’re about to cough up a lung sucks. Trust me, if you push yourself a little at a time it will suck less!

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