According to the U.S. President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, cardiorespiratory endurance exercise, or cardiovascular endurance exercise, uses the large muscle groups of the body in a rhythmic way to challenge the heart and lungs, improving the circulatory and respiratory systems' response to physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests performing moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week, for health-related purposes.
The rhythmic movement of cycling, particularly the way the entire body becomes engaged in the movement, makes cycling a good option for cardiorespiratory endurance exercise. Additionally, cycling presents you with numerous options for engaging in activity. You can bike outside on roads or trails, or you can take your workout indoors and bike on upright, recumbent or group exercise-style bicycles. To make the most out of your bike ride, adjust the seat so that your legs fully extend during the down-motion of the pedal. Change the gear or the resistance level of the bike so that you feel the resistance in the rotation of the pedal, but you don't feel hindered by the level of resistance. If you have a cadence meter, aim to keep your cadence at about 75 to 90 rotations per minute. Aim to ride your bike approximately 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
If you haven't swum in awhile, the first time you hit the pool you'll probably feel surprised at the difficulty of the workout. Rhythmically moving your arms and legs in motion to propel your body through the resistance of the water is hard work. Also, swimming requires you to inhale and exhale in a rhythmic manner, controlling your breathing to sync up with your stroke. It may take a couple laps before you settle in, but try to swim at a pace that you can continue for 20 to 30 minutes. Because swimming feels very different than other forms of cardio exercise, switching up the stroke can help you continue. You may even want to switch your stroke every lap, moving from front crawl to breaststroke, backstroke to sidestroke. You'll engage your muscles in different ways without overtaxing your system with a single stroke.
Walking or Jogging
Walking and jogging are often the "go to" activities for cardiorespiratory endurance. It's easy to see why: you can do them anywhere, almost everyone can participate and there's no special skill involved, simply go outside and get moving. You just want to make sure that you're working at an intensity that will challenge you cardiovascularly. You want to work at least at a moderate intensity level, and the American College of Sports Medicine suggests you check your level by performing a talk test. You should feel comfortable talking or carrying on a conversation, but you should be working hard enough that you couldn't sing a song easily.
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- American College of Sports Medicine: Physical activity and public health guidelines
- The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports: Physical activity: the "magic pill"
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical activity guidelines for Americans
- Arthritis Foundation: Types of exercise
- American Heart Association: Physical activity