Tag Archives: cardio


Walking is great exercise, it’s gets you out doors to (hopefully) fresh air, it strengthens your legs and calves, it keeps your hip, knee and ankle joints well lubricated, it improves circulation, it builds stamina, improves your mood by reducing stress, you can meet new people, and it BURNS CALORIES – that’s the important part. Since you’re burning calories, you’re losing weight, you’re increasing the strength of your heart muscle and you’re getting healthier and healthier.

Using a pedometer can really be a benefit to getting exercise through walking. Studies have shown that we walk an average of 5000 to 5500 steps per day, and that 10,000 steps per day is where you see the most benefit. 10,000 steps is equal to about 5 miles for the average stride. Just having the pedometer hooked to your belt loop will be the reminder to keep moving, or to take the stairs, or to go out and walk during your lunch break at work.

I advise my clients to keep a log of the information their pedometer gives them at the end of each day. It includes the date, number of steps, miles, calories burned and a space for any notes for that day. The notes area can be helpful to track why there was a significant difference, either fewer or more steps on a given day.

Here are some ways to add steps to your day – remember your goal is 10,000:

  • Park in the far back of the parking lot at work, or at store lots
  • If you take a bus, get off the bus a few stops before your usual stop and walk the rest of the way
  • Take the stairs
  • Pace while waiting for meetings to start or while making phone calls
  • Get up and walk around during commercial breaks
  • Do not use drive throughs, park and walk in – better yet stay away from places that have drive throughs the food is no good for you
  • Dedicate a few minutes to walking each hour
  • Walk during your lunch break
  • Form a workplace, neighborhood or friends walking group
  • Make a family habit of walking in the morning or after dinner (or both)
  • Take advantage of 5k charity walks so you have company while walking
  • Take an extra trip up and down your stairs, just for fun
  • Bring your groceries into the house one bag at a time
  • Take the dog for a walk, they’ll love you for it. Take your neighbors dog for a walk if you don’t have one!
  • Pace while waiting for a meal to heat in the microwave
  • Use the lavatory at work that is furthest from your desk

Go ahead, add more bullet points, there are plenty of ways to add walking to your daily life!

The Three Major Elements of Exercise

A well balanced exercise program needs to include three major areas of fitness: Resistance or strength training, aerobic or cardio training and stretching or flexibility training.

Resistance (strength) training 20 minutes of resistance training with dumbells, barbells, body weight, resistance bands or using weight machines twice a week. All the major muscle groups of the legs, abdomen, arms, chest, back and shoulders should be worked.
Aerobic (cardio) training 30 minutes of exercise at about 60% to 85% of your maximum heart should be done at least 3 times per week, more often is best. The 60% to 85% is known as your the aerobic range, which is calculated by subtracting your age from 220, then multiplying that number by .60 and .85 to obtain your heart rate range. 
Stretching (flexibility) training 15 minutes of stretching, after you’re fully warmed up, to include all the major muscle groups at least 3 times per week.

Burn Those Calories

I recently read a study which determined that just tapping your foot while sitting will burn more calories than just sitting.  In fact, a completely sedentary person burns between 800 and 1,500 calories per day, creating the energy for the daily functions of all the cells in the body. This is called our basal metabolic rate, or BMR.  Researchers also found that exercise burns calories not just while you are doing the workout, but also in the hours following the exercise.  You use energy and burn calories to bring your body back to its normal resting state.  

So that’s the good news, you burn calories when you’re not exercising and you burn calories after your exercise session is over, but, you burn the most calories while you are actually exercising. 

Researchers found that the two most important contributors to burning calories during exercise are the contracting muscles and the increased work of the heart and lungs. The frequency and power of muscle contractions are by far the major factors in determining the number of calories burned during exercise.  Faster heart rate and breathing also burn calories, but not nearly as much as movement of legs, arms, abdominal and back muscles.  In fact, moving the biggest muscles in your body – your back, legs and abs – burn the most calories.

Over time, your metabolism changes as you convert your flabby muscles into firmer and leaner muscle mass.   The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, the higher your BMR the more calories you burn even when you’re NOT working out.

It takes resistance or strength training to get this calorie burning benefit from exercise.  However, cardio exercise will not only burn calories it will strengthen your heart muscle, the best way to avoid a heart attack.  A good exercise regimen includes both resistance training and cardio training.
You can determine how many calories you should take in on a daily basis with the following formula:

 Activity Level                           Calories per Pound 
Very light (sedentary)                14

Light (if you walk)                     15 – 17

Moderate (if you jog)                17 – 19

Heavy (if you’re a gym rat)       20 – 23
Use your “ideal” body weight, the weight you want to be, not the weight you are.

120lb X 18 (Moderate) = 2160 calories per day are needed to maintain 120 pounds of body weight daily
But choose those 2000+ calories wisely – keep this in mind:

Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram

Protein = 4 calories per gram

Fat = 9 calories per gram