When carrying out a fitness or running session, it is very easy to remain in your comfort zone, therefore not really pushing or enabling yourself to improve.

To reap fitness rewards, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Your heart rate (HR) can be used as the guide to help achieve this. Mix up your cardio workouts with longer, slower sessions that keep your HR at a steady state (50–75% of workout maximum HR, calculated as 220 minus your age), and then sprints or fartlek (speed play) training using a variety of intensities and terrains. By doing this you are also mixing up your cardio training, keeping yourself motivated and interested while also achieving great results.

To do this effectively you should purchase a heart rate monitor (available at Sportsmart) – this way you can easily see your HR level and therefore determine your workout intensity.

Some fun and interesting cardio workouts include:

Endurance session. This is a longer session but completed with a lower HR (70-75% of maximum HR). Eg. 30 minutes+ run, cycle, swim.

Fartlek (speed play) session. This involves mixing up the intensities and terrains. Work out a route that includes a variety of terrains, then mix up the intensity and monitor your HR. You may increase the workout rate when sprinting up a hill or doing stair runs. From there you might choose to go into a fast walk and let your HR come down slightly, before once again increasing the intensity and including some fast running. Just make sure that you always keep your HR slightly more elevated than your resting rate to enable greater improvements in your fitness. Depending on the intensity of the workout, HR will vary. High intensity workouts should be performed at 80–95% of maximum HR, while during slower workouts the heart rate should be around 70–75% of maximum HR.

Exercise at home. An at-home routine can include step-ups, skipping, stair runs, squats and lunges, interspersed with sprints/runs around the block. HR will vary between these exercises depending of the intensity that they are performed at as well as the work-to-rest ratio. To keep your HR higher, limit rest times and increase intensity.

Personal trainer, Tavia Ambler

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