How Do You Know If You Are Getting Enough Cardio Exercise?

Probably the first question is, what exactly is 'cardio exercise'? Cardio exercise is any type of activity that raises your heart rate - like running, cycling, and swimming. Would you believe that your heart is a muscle? And like all of the other muscles in your body it needs to be used to stay healthy. So, if you can exercise for at least a half hour every day doing a physical activity that really gets your heart pumping, then you're doing a good job. So, get moving and get heart strong!

Wow, Look At Those Muscles!

The upper arm has two major muscles - the bicep and the tricep. The bicep muscle is the one that you will probably notice the most, as it is typically the largest. It's the same muscle that Popeye is always flexing. The bicep has a few important roles, but it's main job is to help you move your forearm when lifting something. It attaches to the shoulder and the elbow creating one smooth motion when performing an activity. Does it have to be as big as Popeye's? Not at all! It just has to be strong enough to do the things you like to do. Like throwing a ball, picking apples, and even brushing your teeth! So, remember to flex those biceps and keep them in tip-top shape.

Stretch Before - And After - Exercise!

Most people only think about stretching before they do a physical activity, but the truth is, it's just as important to stretch after exercising, too. Stretching can include movements while you stand in place like toe touches, side bends, and side reaches. But stretching can also be what they call 'active', which means walking as you lunge, the 'Frankenstein' walk, or walking as you bring one foot up behind you towards your bum. In other words, any type of stretch that keeps your body in motion. So, go ahead stretch it out - both in place and in motion. And, both before - and after - exercising!

Want To Run Faster? Use Your Arms!

If you want to run faster, you can focus less on your legs and more on your arms. That's right, if you watch a track sprinter or a football running back, you will notice that they pump their arms in a long motion as they pick up speed. The reason it helps is because your upper body is now involved and can assist in accelerating forward. Try it! First, run with primarily just using your legs. Then try running as you concentrate on your arms and upper body initiating the move. See the difference? Keep practicing and you will be the fastest runner on the block in no time! 

Improve Your Endurance With Walk/Run Training

If you feel like you are not able to run as far as you would like without getting tired, that means you need to improve your endurance. In other words, you need to get your heart and lungs in shape to handle longer distances. The best way to do that is with walk/run training. Start out walking and pick a point in the distance like a tree, telephone pole, or sign. Once you reach that point, run until you reach the next tree, telephone pole, or sign. (You can also achieve the same results by walking for a certain amount of steps and then running for a certain amount of steps, like 10, 20, 30...). Keep alternating and do it for as long as you can. As you start to improve, add more time (or steps) during your running intervals and less during your walking intervals. Do this as many times a week as you can and you will be able to run longer distances without stopping before you know it!

Jump Higher and Faster

Do you play a sport that requires you to jump a lot? And, jump fast? Or, do you just want to be able to jump higher? One of the best training techniques to get better at jumping is called plyometrics. Plyometrics is an 'explosive' motion where you start in a stationary position and then 'explode' upward as far as you can. Some people use a tall box or platform to jump up on. If you don't have a box, you can also start from a squat position and jump as high as you can in the air, then land back down in a squat position and repeat. Another option is to stand sideways next to a wall and find a spot up high that you want to reach and jump towards it. The key is to keep doing it as quickly - and as high - as you can. You will see a big difference if you keep this up!

Visualize Success

The best way to get better at a sport or activity is to practice, correct? That's very true, but visualization is also plays an important role in how much  - and how quickly - you can improve. Visualization is when you create a mental picture in your mind of how you want to perform. Picture yourself hitting the ball perfectly on the sweet spot of the bat or throwing the fastest pitch ever. Imagine hiking up a mountain that you always wanted to. 'See' yourself finally being able to stand up on that surfboard and catching a wave. Get the idea? If you can visualize it in your head, your body will follow. However, remember to keep up the physical training, too! 

Better Balance

If you want to improve your balance, try standing on one leg. Even better, stand on one leg whenever you can. For instance, when you're brushing your teeth, standing in line at the store, watching T.V., talking to your friend, even reading a book! Standing on one leg challenges your stability and improves core strength, which in turn, gives you better balance. Just remember to switch legs every now and then so that you balance your balance. Get it?

Walk Your Dog - Two For The Price Of One!

Looking for something to do but nobody is around? If you have a dog, take your dog for a walk (or run). Or ask to walk your neighbor's dog. It's not only good exercise for you, it's great for the dog, too! You will both come back tired and happy. Two for the price of one!