When most men think about working out, they think about lifting weight, washboard abs and building muscle. But there’s much more to fitness for men than just bulking up. Cardiovascular health is an important component of a well-rounded men’s fitness plan. Here we look at some fundamental fitness tips for men.

The Importance of Cardiovascular Health

The American College of Sports Medicine has recommended cardiovascular exercise for the general public since 1978. But many men forego cardiovascular exercise for the weight room. Cardiovascular conditioning is one of the most fundamental measurements of fitness and should be a part of any balanced exercise program. If that doesn’t convince you to add some cardio to your exercise routine, check out these benefits:

  • Greater energy from endorphins, which may also improve your mood and help you sleep better
  • Weight loss from the calories you’ll burn
  • Boosted metabolism from cardio exercise means your body burns calories even between workouts
  • Stronger heart from sustained cardio exercise for greater longevity, stamina and immunity

Find the Right Balance with Cardio Exercise

Strength training is important for building a strong body, so you should keep doing it. But it’s important to strike a healthy balance between your cardiovascular training and strength training. Many men focus too much on weight lifting, which can leave your body—particularly your heart—vulnerable. Striking a good balance with both cardio and strength is vital to your fitness.

Some of the best cardio exercises include:

  • Running (or treadmill running)
  • Walking
  • Cycling (or spinning class)
  • Swimming
  • Stairclimbing
  • Elliptical machines

Example of a Cardio Workout: Stationary Bicycle

Among the best indoor cross-training activities is the stationary bicycle. You can burn over 220 calories during a 30-minute workout by maintaining a 12 M.P.H. pace. Stationary cycling also works some key lower body muscles: gluteus, quadriceps, hamstrings, thighs and calves.

If you haven’t been using a stationary bicycle for a long time, start out with 15 minutes easy and work your way up in intensity and duration. (“Easy” should feel relatively comfortable, so you should be straining to pedal or be out of breath.) Many of these machines have pre-programmed routines, or try this workout…

Warm up

Pedal easy for 20 minutes

Workout

  • 1 minute of hard pedaling (80-90 percent of maximum heart rate)
  • 1 minute easy recovery
  • 2 minutes hard
  • 2 minutes easy
  • 3 minutes hard
  • 3 minutes easy
  • This comprises one set—work your way up to a total of three sets

Cool down

20 minutes easy