The best cardio workout is one that improves heart health,
builds stamina, and is enjoyable
Believe it or not, cardio workouts are where the fun’s at, especially in Williamson County, Tx. We’ll prove it!
What is cardiovascular exercise, exactly?
Commonly referred to as aerobic exercise, cardio is any type of cardiovascular conditioning that increases heart rate, oxygen flow, and breathing. Aerobic exercises that boost heart health keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels low while toning muscles and burning fat. Did you know that cardio is also one of the best ways to strengthen the immune system and ward off viral illnesses? Well, now you do!
Cardiovascular exercise means a whole lot more than running, too. Some of the most common cardio workouts include walking, running, swimming, and cycling. Seeing as Williamson County is a nature-lover’s paradise, there are many walking and cycling paths nearby where you can catch some fresh air while getting that heart rate up. But for those of you looking to jump outside the box and explore cardio with a creative flair, you’re in luck!
The Best (and Most Fun) Exercises to Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
Sometimes, getting out of the house is easier said than done. If you often find yourself cooped up at home or you’re working remotely, it’s important to make time for cardiovascular exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone catches at least 30 minutes of cardio 5 to 7 days per week. Just don’t overdo it, even if you’re trying to lose weight; pushing yourself too hard also comes with its risks.
Stuck at home? Give these 3 at-home aerobic exercises a try:
#1 – Weighted Hula Hooping – Hula hoops have been popular among children and adults alike for more than sixty years. Even though they were originally intended for children, weighted hula hoops are seriously gaining in popularity, so much so that they have inspired a TikTok challenge answered by thousands of enthusiastic hoopers. You don’t have to be a circus artist to get the most out of this exercise, either. Anyone with any body shape or experience level can do it. What’s important is good technique: moving the chest back and forth rather than circling your hips.
#2 – Dancing – No matter your age or body type, dancing is something everyone can enjoy whether they are dancing in their living room, at the club, or in the studio. All styles of dancing are beneficial to cardio health. Studies show that 150-300 minutes of dancing a week can improve strength and balance and break a sweat without being too harsh on the body. Furthermore, dancing is impactful for mental and emotional health as well. Scientists have discovered that memory and organization skills improve through dancing all while reducing stress, decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and boosting self-esteem.
# 3 – Throwback Workout Videos – Just because it’s throwback doesn’t mean it’s any less challenging. Modern-day workout videos can be awfully monotonous, and it’s all too easy to become bored and lose motivation. Fortunately, we still have access to the ridiculously cheerful fitness gurus of yorn. Richard Simmons, anyone? One of the best things about throwback fitness videos like Simmons is that it’s easy to lose track of time while having fun. His sparkling attitude is addicting, and the inclusivity showcased in many body-types is something rarely seen today. When you’re hungry for more, check out Jane Fonda’s Step Aerobic Workout or Cher’s Hot Dance Workout Video. There’s nothing like the classics to make you feel good!
Need some fresh air? Take your cardio outdoors with these 3 exercises:
#1 – Kayaking – In search of a low-impact aerobic exercise on the water that increases strength and reduces stress? Look no further than kayaking. For a 175-pound person, kayaking can burn 396 calories per hour, compared to the 317 calories/hour burned by low-intensity cycling. This exercise is especially good for those with bad hips or knees, as the muscles targeted by kayaking are in the back and chest, the core, the arms, and the shoulders. Kayaking opportunities abound in Wilco. Grab a friend and keep cool at Lakewood Park in Leander where you’ll find two-person kayak rentals amid some of the most beautiful scenery Wilco has to offer.
#2 – Fitness Scavenger Hunt – For this cardiovascular fitness challenge, grab a friend or partner up in teams. Map out a route together, then list 10-20 landmarks that one might find along each route. These could be anything from a dog on a leash or a park bench, to a Wilco-based bakery (talk about motivation!). Beside each landmark, write out an aerobic exercise, such as 100 jumping jacks, 20 burpees, or 50 butt kicks. Whichever team completes the scavenger hunt first, wins! Even better, the losing team owes the winners a treat from town.
#3 – Rock Climbing – Climbing, otherwise known as Bouldering, is a total-body workout that builds strength and increases cardiorespiratory fitness. Whether you choose to climb indoor or outdoor, there are opportunities in Williamson County for every experience level. With each move up the wall, different parts of the body are challenged, and no two climbs are ever the same. A study conducted in 2004 found that rock climbing significantly raises heart rate and increases oxygen flow in the body, making it a tremendous aerobic exercise that burns no less than 8-10 calories per minute. Researchers in this study also found that the element of fear that is part and parcel of rock climbing boosts the exercise’s aerobic capacity as well.
Where to Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Fitness in Wilco
#1 – Infrared sauna workouts at Hotworx in Round Rock
#2 – Community fitness for women at Burn Boot Camp in Round Rock
#3 – Barre, Boxing, and Cycling at Truecore in Georgetown
#4 – The floating obstacle course at Waterloo Adventures on Lake Travis
#5 – Chase your dog around at Cedar Park Bark
#6 – Cardio classes at the YMCA of Greater Williamson County
#7 – Martial Arts at a school, club, or dojo nearby
#8 – Yoga classes and workshops from Liberty Hill to Hutto
#9 – Explore each of Wilco’s beautiful nature trails
#10 – Join the Fit Foodie Interval Training Meetup in Leander
When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, one of the best ways to stay motivated is to change up your fitness routine with new and exciting activities. A little variety goes a long way. And for those of us in Williamson County, the opportunities are endless to improve heart health with aerobic exercises, all the while having fun.