woman running on treadmill

You have a right to exercise your freedom of speech, you have a right to exercise your freedom of assembly, you have a right to exercise your freedom of choice, and overall you have a right to exercise. The question is: Do you exercise your right to exercise?

We all know that exercising is good for us, that it helps us live longer, look better, and feel healthier, but sometimes just the thought of increasing our heart rate by about 50 to 80 percent of our maximum heart rate is too strenuous to think of.

When it comes to heart health, you can’t get much healthier than doing cardiovascular exercise (hence the name.) In fact when Duke University researchers wanted to get the skinny on the best exercises to get you skinny, they found out that steady, moderate, cardiovascular exercises are where it’s at. Rowing, running, cycling: it’s all good, the key is to make sure you are working hard enough to make eeking out more than a few words difficult. At this intensity, you’re improving good cholesterol (HDL), lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels, expanding your blood vessels, and strengthening the heart muscle.

Ready to start your cardio routine? Here are a few steps to help you exercise your right to exercise!

HIIT Me Baby One More Time

For those who haven’t been hit by the HIIT craze yet, HIIT is the anagram for High Intensity Interval Training, and the latest buzzword in cardiovascular exercise. The biggest advantage of the HIIT workout is the fact that it can be done in about ten minutes, leaving you with hours to devote to your busy day. The big disadvantage is the fact that those ten minutes may be some of the least pleasant minutes of your life. However, no article on cardio would be complete without at least looking at some HIIT routines, so here are some examples:

40-20 HIIT Circuit Workout

The 40-20 HIIT circuit workout is an intermediate/advanced level workout lasting for a duration of about 35 minutes. It includes high-intensity workouts with a short recovery period sure to activate your fat burning hormones. It requires a step or platform.

Circuit 1:

Long Jumps

Holding both knees together, jump as far as you can, landing softly. Jump to turn the other way, and do the same in the opposite direction. Repeat for 40 seconds.

Side Knee to Side Kick

Raise right knee up and to the side while bringing your left elbow down to meet it. Bring the right foot down and kick the left leg out and to the side. Do this as quickly as possible for 40 seconds. Repeat using the other side during the second circuit. (still standing?)

Side-to-Side Jumping Lunge

Bring right leg out to the side and position left leg into a runner’s lunge, keeping as low as you can and bringing your hand to the floor. Shift feet in air quickly, and lunge to the other side. Repeat for 40 seconds, rest for 20.


Squat and put your hands on the floor next to your feet. In one explosive (I haven’t had an explosive movement in years) movement, jump backwards into a pushup position, jump your feet back so they rest between your hands, and stand up. Jump again, if you want to amp it up.

Do each exercise for 40 seconds, resting for 20 in between. Perform entire circuit twice, for an eight-minute total. Rest 30-60 seconds before going on to……

Circuit 2:

Speed Skaters

Think Michelle Kwan. Jump right and land on the right foot. Jump to the left in a lateral jump, keeping as low to the ground as you can, rather than jumping up. Repeat for 40 seconds, and rest for the next 20.

Stand and Sit

Stand in front of the step with your hands next to your hips. Lean back, extending your legs in front of you. Bring your feet back in, and stand up. Use your hands if necessary. ( if necessary?) Repeat for 40 seconds, rest for 20.

Toe Tap on Step

Stand in front of your step, tap the left toe on the step, switch your feet in the air, and tap your right toe on the step. Repeat for 40, rest for 20.

High Knee Jogs

It’s all about getting those knees up on this one. Get ‘em up high, waist level if you can. Remember to land on the balls of your feet, and keep the knees slightly bent to reduce impact.

Perform each exercise for 40 seconds each, rest for 20. Repeat twice for an 8-minute total. Rest for 30-60 seconds. (What?)

Recoup, Recap, Recover

Now let’s recoup, recap, and recover. If you just tried to do all that, and your heart feels like it’s about to burst out of your chest, you’re probably in the majority. Keep in mind that this is high intensity, which is around a level 8 on the 1 to 10 scale of exertion, so you are well out of your comfort zone. However, also keep in mind that there is a way to burn 300 calories in 30 minutes using HIIT, which means you can burn off half of that Cheesecake Factory meal in about an hour and a half, depending on whether you ordered dessert. Is going out of your comfort zone the only way to burn off comfort food quickly? Here’s the way you can burn off 300 calories in 30 minutes, optional.

Shed 300 Calories In 30 Minutes

The 300 calories in 30 minutes workout uses 4 different workouts that work by changing the resistance on exercise equipment to maximize the benefits of the workout. Changing the speed of your equipment challenges the body to work harder and burn more calories. It requires an elliptical, a treadmill, or a stationary bike.

Workout 1: Treadmill

  1. Begin at an incline of 0 walking or jogging at a moderate speed.
  2. Minute 1: Increase incline by 2% every 15 seconds
  3. Minute 2: Decrease the incline 1% every 15 seconds
  4. Minutes 3, 4 and 5: Walk or jog at moderate speed.

Repeat cycle for 30 minutes to burn 320 calories.

Workout 2: Elliptical

  1. Enter a workout time of 30 minutes and choose a level of resistance just above your comfort zone.
  2. Increase ramps for the next 6 minutes to get your body to work harder
  3. Increase your resistance (ramps) every 30 seconds for the next 3 minutes
  4. Lower resistance to a comfortable level for 2 minutes
  5. Set resistance to a comfortable level and go backwards for the last 6 minutes

Repeat until 30-minute duration ends to burn 250-300 calories

Workout 3: Stationary Bike

  1. Enter 30 minutes as your workout time and pick a level of resistance just beyond your comfort zone.
  2. Cycle at a moderate pace for 5 minutes
  3. Raise your resistance by 2-3 increments every 30 seconds for the next 2 minutes
  4. Lower your resistance by 2-3 increments every 30 seconds for the next 2 minutes
  5. Set resistance high and cycle as fast as you can for 1 minute.

Repeat until 30 minutes is up to burn 245 calories

Workout 4: Jogging

  1. Start out with a brisk walk or light jog for five to ten minutes
  2. Speed up to a moderate jog for 3 minutes
  3. Speed walk or jog quickly for 30 seconds

Repeat cycle for 30 minutes.

Workout Au Choix

Sometimes, the best things for you are the ones you make for yourself. After all, you know yourself the best, you know what your body is capable of. The routines above are just guidelines. If you want to tailor make your own workout, here are just a few things to keep in mind:

  • Pick your faves: Go through the cardio exercises you know of and pick about ten to incorporate into your workout.
  • Warm Up: Start with a five-minute warm-up
  • Start Your Clock: The easiest way to exercise is in brief intervals, 60 seconds, per se.
  • Rest: Be sure to rest briefly between exercises and repeat them for a longer workout

Tell HIIT To Hit It

While HIIT is a great way to burn calories quickly, you might be getting the idea that it’s not for everyone, however cardiovascular exercise in general is. Moderate exercise is recommended for 30 minutes; five days a week, for a total of two hours a week. But how do you know when you’re exercising moderately and what to do to achieve moderate intensity? Here’s a little rundown (pun intended).

Moderate intensity exercise is characterized by an elevated heart and breathing rate. You might sweat, you should be able to carry on a conversation, but you probably won’t be able to sing. (How does J.Lo do it?) You’ll recognize that you’re putting a little more exertion into your actions than you would if you were doing a daily activity, but you shouldn’t be huffing and puffing. Your heart rate should be functioning at about 50 to 70 percent of its maximum activity level, however this level will differ according to certain factors, such as age and state of health.

When it comes to how long you want to do work, keep in mind that it takes 10 minutes a day to qualify as an official exercise session. You can break your 30 minutes down into 3 sessions a day or do them all at once.


So what do you do for your moderate intensity cardio? Here, it’s more about activities than specific exercises. Some of the things you can do to get in your 30 minutes include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Light jogging
  • Volleyball
  • Elliptical
  • Bicycling on a mostly level surface at under 10 mph
  • Swimming or water aerobics
  • Line and ballroom dancing
  • Doubles Tennis
  • Softball, baseball
  • Gardening

What You Can’t Get Away With

Ok, so high-intensity workouts may be a little ambitious, but it’s not all play when it comes to moderate workouts. After all, you can’t expect to burn 2 pounds of cheesecake by drumming your fingers. So how do you know when not enough is simply, well, not enough?

An easy 10-minute walk? Survey says,”Not enough.” You may be making the 10,000 steps on your pedometer, but here it’s all about quality over quantity. No matter how many steps you take, if the pace is not brisk, you’re not making the grade. Look for pedometers, smartwatches, and activity trackers that report exercise minutes and calories burned. They’ll give you a more accurate look at how much headway you’ve actually achieved.

Easy Does It

They say the first steps are the hardest, but when your starting your moderate intensity cardio plan, you can start out easy. Begin by walking for ten minutes daily at a comfortable rate, and then pick up the pace gradually. You can walk during lunch breaks, or even use walking the dog as an opportunity to exercise.

Use good posture or walking techniques to increase your speed. After you get your speed up, get your time up. Start extending your walks for a few minutes each week. Soon you’ll be changing it up, picking new locations, waving at the neighbors, and staying happy and healthy while you do it.

Parting Thoughts

In a nutshell, it’s all about your personal goals. If you’re really looking to burn off calories quickly, and have the energy, HIIT is the way to go. If you find repetitive exercise boring, HIIT certainly keeps you occupied. If you want to achieve the recommended daily amount of exercise in less than 30 minutes, you may want to HIIT up HIIT toot-sweet. However, if you’re goals are more about maintaining healthy weight levels, and time is not an issue, and you’re not comfortable outside your comfort level, you may want to keep things moderate. The important thing is to find the routine you’re comfortable with and stick with it. Let us know what you think. We love to hear your comments and suggestions.