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Burning Calories With Cardio

Walking. Running. Dancing. Swimming. You probably think of cardio activities like these when you first think about exercise. That’s good because these activities burn calories and fat, which can help you lose weight and keep it off. In addition, cardio activities improve your endurance and strengthen your heart. This form of physical activity can also boost your energy and help relieve stress.


Cardio activities, also known as aerobic activities, use large muscle groups, are rhythmic and can be done continuously. Here are some common and not-so-common options. Which new one would you like to try this week?

Walking outdoors Swimming Jogging
Walking on a treadmill Dancing Water aerobics
Biking Spinning class Dance fitness class
Stair climbing Soccer Cross-country skiing
Rowing Kickboxing Inline skating
Tennis Step aerobics Elliptical trainer

The anatomy of a workout

Whether you choose to walk, bike or use a stair climber, remember the components of the ideal workout:

  • Warm-up (5-10 minutes): warms up your muscles, slowly increases your heart rate and reduces your risk for injury.
  • Cardio (10-60 minutes): burns calories and strengthens your heart.
  • Cool-down (5-10 minutes): brings your heart rate back down and relaxes your muscles.
  • Stretch (5+ minutes, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds): elongates your muscles and enhances flexibility.

Stay safe

To prevent injury and get the most out of each exercise session, follow these safety tips:

  • If you haven't exercised in a while, remember to always check with your doctor.
  • Start every workout with a warm-up to raise your heart rate and prepare your muscles and joints for what’s ahead.
  • Monitor your intensity. If you can talk comfortably, you’re doing great. If you can’t catch your breath, slow down your pace to lower the intensity.
  • As you work to increase your intensity, you can rate your “perceived exertion” to stay in a safe, but challenging, zone. Use the chart below to gauge where you are and where you want to be as you progress.
  • Finish every workout with a cool-down and stretch.

Perceived Exertion Scale

RatingExertion Level
0.5 Extremely Light
1 Very Light
2 Light
3 Moderate
4 Moderately Hard
5-6 Hard
7-9 Very Hard
10 Extremely Hard

What are you waiting for? Pick a cardio activity (or two), plan it into your week, and get moving for a healthier, lighter you.