Monday, April 29, 2013

Conventional Fitness; Keeping Up in College

And, it's finally here, the post I've been dreading.  I knew when I decided to write a balanced living blog, at some point I would have to write about cardiovascular fitness at some point, but quite frankly, I feel a little bit hypocritical doing so.  I hate running.  I hate sweating.  I get really, really annoyed at overly-excited fitness instructors.  Unfortunately, it's really imperative to your extended health and well being to incorporate some kind of cardiovascular exercise into your routine.

Cardiovascular exercise improves your endurance and stamina, raises your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and helps you sweat out the toxins in your body.  It also helps circulate oxygenated blood quickly throughout your body, and boosts your production of feel good chemicals serotonin and oxytocin, as well as endorphins in your brain.

So, here's more good news: walking can be cardiovascular exercise!  Now, I'm not talking about a meandering stroll.  You do need to keep a steady pace, and a cardio walk does take up more time than a jog, obviously, but studies have shown and physicians confirm that an hour long, brisk walk 3-4 times a week can be just as beneficial as a jog or run.  Plus, a walk is much easier on muscles and joints.

However, if you are pressed for time, or do actually enjoy working up a sweat, check out your campus fitness facilities.  My tiny college has two facilities with fitness equipment and Healthtrek classes every weekday.  If classes hold you accountable, by all means, take a class.  If you can be trusted to work out on your own, find something fun that will feel less like work.  I endorse Zumba and kickboxing classes, they change a little bit from time to time so it's hard to get bored, but often integrate the same moves so they're easy to pick up after a few classes.  Spin classes, step classes, and dance classes are also great ways to get your blood flowing.

Also, don't forget about strength training from time to time, even if you don't want to bulk up.  Muscle burns fat, so keeping your muscles toned is key to keeping a lean frame!

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