Although there always seems to be someone willing to discuss whether men or women have an easier or harder part in life, an area where men are inherently worse off is heart disease risk. It is true; “Being a man” is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, men over the age of 40 have an even greater risk.
Before you start feeling defeated because your gender and age are uncontrollable, the good news is that another major risk factor for heart disease is a sedentary lifestyle, which is definitely a modifiable risk factor you can do something about. Regular aerobic exercise – with the aim of accumulating 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week – has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, with so many great options for aerobic exercise, most guys can find some form of enjoyable (or at least useful!) Cardio workout. Do you need inspiration and ideas for your cardio workout? Keep reading to get an overview of the best aerobic exercises for men.
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is an exercise that conditions the cardiovascular system and increases your heart rate, but is performed “with oxygen”. In other words, your heart rate and breathing actually increase, but you are not completely out of breath while exercising. In general, the aerobic training zone is 70-80% of your maximum heart rate.
For example, if your maximum heart rate is 180 bpm, aerobic exercise occurs at a heart rate range of 126-144 bpm. Although it is not entirely accurate, you can frolic your maximum heart rate by using the formula ‘220 minus age this year.’
Benefits of aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise has many health benefits, including the following:
- Reduction of blood pressure
- Strengthening of heart and lungs
- Improvement of elasticity, capacity and density of blood vessels
- Burns calories and supports weight loss
- Regulation of blood sugar levels
- Increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels
- Lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels
- Improving sleep
- Reduction of asthma symptoms
- Improving mood
- Reduction of anxiety
- Strengthening the immune system
- Reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and atherosclerosis
Best aerobic exercises for men
There is no single “best” aerobic workout for men; rather, any kind of sustainable physical activity that increases your heart rate to an appropriate zone will serve you well. That said, it is advisable to vary the types of aerobic exercise you do to prevent overuse injuries and fitness plateaus. It is also a good idea to perform aerobic exercises that use different muscle groups. For example, pairing cycling with swimming is a better way to strengthen your legs, arms and core than pairing cycling with stairs.
Walking is certainly the simplest aerobic exercise, but it does not make it any less effective. Depending on your fitness level, walking at a leisurely pace may not be strong enough to get your heart rate elevated enough to get an aerobic workout, but walking at a brisk pace or up a slope are two great ways to increase intensity. . You can also consider wearing a weighted vest or wearing a heavy package. If you are not walking on a treadmill where you can check your heart rate, consider wearing a gym or heart rate monitor for your fitness trips to make sure you are pushing yourself hard enough to get a good aerobic workout.
Hiking is basically just the wilderness form of walking, but it is often even more conducive to aerobic exercise due to the inherent challenges of the terrain. Again, carrying a pack can increase the intensity along with the number of calories you will burn on your hike.
Whether you are jumping on an exercise machine for stair climbing or going to a local stadium or a skyscraper to run it up real stairs, stair climbing is a sure way to boost your heart rate and get a challenging aerobic workout. You will also strengthen your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core. Consider wearing a heart rate monitor to make sure you stay within the aerobic zone, because stair climbing can easily push you up to almost maximum heart rate.
Elliptical machines are among the most popular pieces of cardio training equipment because they offer many of the fitness benefits of running while minimizing the impact on your joints. You can adjust your resistance and incline to vary your workout and challenge your body as your fitness improves. Be sure to use the elliptical machines with movable arms to ensure that you get your heart rate up in the aerobic zone and get a full body workout.
Although most of us do not have easy access to a boathouse by a lake or river, you can get excellent aerobic exercise on a rowing machine. Rowing is said to use 86% of the muscles in your body, so it is as good a strength training for the whole body as it is aerobic or cardio.
Jogging and running are among the best aerobic workouts for men because they make your whole body work and have been repeatedly demonstrated to improve the health of your heart and lungs, reduce the risk of many lifestyle diseases, improve mood and support weight loss. Running is quite accessible with a low access barrier, as long as you have access to a pair of running shoes and a safe road, track, path or treadmill.
Cycling can take many forms, ranging from mountain biking and outdoor cycling to spinning and stationary cycling training indoors. No matter how you step on the pedals, cycling is a great aerobic exercise with low power for men. It strengthens your heart, lungs and entire lower body, and you can easily vary your routine, resistance and cadence to keep your fitness going.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
If you live in a climate with cold, snow-covered winters, then Mother Nature’s playground makes your training ground with aerobic snow sports such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Cross-country skiing is an effective workout for the whole body, as you are also very dependent on your upper body to propel you forward with ski poles. Snowshoes can also be done with or without rods, but are a great way to get your heart pumping and your lungs breathing.
Exercises like jumping jacks, mountaineers, burpees, bodyweight squats and push-ups are great ways to increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping. Performing calisthenics in a circulatory manner – one to the other with minimal rest – is the best way to keep your heart rate elevated throughout your workout.
It is important to note that for a true “aerobic exercise” you do not want to work with as much intensity as you would during high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Aerobic exercise is generally considered to be limited to about 75% of your maximum heart rate. In addition, you work more in anaerobic zones, as shown by feeling more breathless or “without oxygen.” For aerobic exercise, keep the intensity more moderate and consistent.
Jumping rope is a great cardio workout. It can be extremely powerful and can shoot your heart rate out of the aerobic zone if you push the pace. However, if you jump in ropes at a moderate speed, you will reap all the bone-building and strengthening benefits of jumping in ropes along with the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise.
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