Getting regular cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to keep yourself fit and healthy. The only problem is that once you’re in a regular routine, it can be easy to get lazy about the little things. That is to say, you might not be as diligent about preparing for your workouts or recovering from them. Recovery largely comes down to hydrating, stretching the relevant muscle groups, and making sure you get enough rest. It’s with preparation that even some regular runners have more problems.
These are a few preparation tips that may just help you get into easier and more effective cardio routines.
1. Try Caffeine
To get ready for this piece we did some research elsewhere and came across a fairly comprehensive guide to how to “crush” cardio workouts. Most of it was about how to design and stick to workouts that don’t become boring or ineffective. In the middle of the list, however, was the idea of trying a pre-workout dose of caffeine, which can improve endurance and increase athletic power in the short-term. That doesn’t mean you should go too far with caffeine – some energy drinks and sodas packed with it can have negative effects as well – but a cup of coffee or tea before a workout can be very helpful.
2. Work On Your Mentality
The same list that mentioned caffeine talked about playing the right mind games, and while it was specifically addressing brain fatigue, we’d actually simplify things a bit and just recommend you find the right things to think about to get yourself in the zone. Using running as an example, one of the worst things you can do is to focus on how much farther you have to run, or how much longer. Instead, try to figure out something to focus on that keeps your energy up and helps you maintain motivation. It might be thinking about something in your future you’re trying to lose weight for, it might be imagining you’re in a race or competition, or it could even be fantasizing about something altogether different that gives you a surge of energy. This is all stuff that should be considered and framed before you start exercising.
3. Try Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is something you usually see in connection to yoga routines and things of that nature. Though it recently surfaced as a recommendation in an article focusing on how competitors can calm themselves and maintain focus. In that article it was said that deep breathing actually sends a chemical message to the brain instructing you to chill out. In other words it can calm you down, even as it expands your lungs and prepares you for deep, effective respiration. That makes it more or less the perfect pre-cardio exercise, and it only takes a few minutes. The idea is to sit in a relaxed yoga position and breath in and out in equal counts through your nose for several cycles.
4. Find A Cardio Group
Finding a partner or a group is commonly recommended as a way to enjoy a long run or make it more likely that you’ll stick to a routine over time. But you should really think of it as a form of preparation rather than just a general long-term strategy. Just as you plan your workouts and figure out how to work them into your day, you should think about how and when you can meet up with cardio buddies so as to enjoy the aforementioned benefits. If you consider it all to be part of your routine, you’ll stick to it and find that the exercise feels easier and more fun.