The Bare Minimum Cardiovascular Workout Plan

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You don't have to be a gym nut to be healthy. Learn how to sneak "just enough" exercise into your everyday life.

Not everyone is wired to love the gym— but we all need cardiovascular exercise to keep our hearts healthy. How then, can we do the least amount of work for the most health gain? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone receives about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio each week. If you're willing to exercise vigorously, cut that in half: 75 minutes. Here's how to accumulate those precious, difficult minutes:

No Gym Required!

There are plenty of ways to squeeze a minimal workout into your daily routine without setting foot in a gym; anything that takes at least 10 minutes counts toward that week's exercise quota. Here are some ideas to get you started:Commute by Foot (Or Bike)Even if you don't live close enough to work to commute on foot or bicycle, you can still run local errands under your own power. If you really have to drive, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk in. Walk to a Farther Transit Stop Do you take the bus or rail to get to work? Get up 15 minutes early and walk to a stop that's farther away. Do the same for the way home. If you keep to this plan, you'll find yourself racking up exercise minutes before the weekend hits. Go Sightseeing Many towns offer walking tours for little or no cost — give them a try, or create your own walking tour by exploring a different neighborhood every time that you go out. Get a Hobby There are lots of non-strenuous hobbies that can count toward the CDC's recommendations. Even birdwatching involve a lot of walking. So do some of the low-impact sports, like golf and disc golf. Or take an easy hike to a local park — you don't have to trek straight up a mountain for it to count.

Am I Working Out Hard Enough?

Are you wondering whether your minimalist workouts measure up to the CDC's requirements for moderate or intense exercise? Use the talk test to decide. When you work out at a moderate intensity, you'll be able to speak a few sentences at a time, but you won't be able to carry on a monologue or sing. If you can only get a few words out at a time, congratulations! You're officially intense. Now, here's the most interesting thing of all: Your fitness is a moving target. The more you exercise — even if it's just walking from your car to the store — the more you'll be able to do. Once you establish a regular workout habit,  you might be surprised at how quickly you feel in shape.

To Read More About Wellness, See Below:

The Benefits of Interval TrainingWhich Kids’ Sports Have the Highest Concussion Risk?Keto vs. Paleo Diets: What’s the Difference?Image credit: Satya Murthy via Flickr.


Lisa M.

Lisa M.

Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Lisa is an outdoors, travel, profile and copy writer based in Alaska. She's the author of three books and has been published extensively in magazines, newspapers and online.

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