Cardiovascular (cardio) and aerobic exercise are ways to get the heart pumping and you breathing. This, in turn, warms your body, makes you sweat, burns calories, and releases hormones like endorphins—hormones that raise the pain threshold—that also help improve your cardiac fitness, bone strength, and overall mood. Cardio and aerobic exercises may include running, walking, dancing, swimming, riding a bike, or using a treadmill or elliptical machine.

At a Communities in Motion event in San Diego led by orthopaedic surgeons, Dr. Alan S. Hilibrand discussed the importance of cardio and aerobic activity, and how it can help prevent injuries. Here Dr. Hilibrand provided some simple exercises that can help improve your cardio and aerobic fitness:

  1. Jumping Jacks. Stand with your feet together, back straight, knees slightly bent, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, and arms to your sides. Jump while raising your arms out to the sides while also separating your legs apart and out to your sides. Land with your legs apart and arms overhead. Jump again while lowering your arms to the sides and bringing your legs back together to the start position.
  2. Modified Jumping Jacks. Stand with your feet together, back straight, knees slightly bent, abs engaged, shoulders relaxed, and arms to your sides. Bend your left knee slightly while extending your right arm out to your side and bringing it overhead while also stepping your right leg out to the side. Return to the start position. Bend your right knee slightly while extending your left arm out to your side and bringing it overhead while also stepping your left leg out to the side. Return to the start position. Repeat side to side. To increase intensity for this exercise, move quicker and/or step out farther.
  3. Cardio activity, such as walking, is recommended for at least 5 days a week for 45 minutes to an hour. If your heart is pumping and you are breathing hard, you are doing it right.

Are you ready to get started? Tips on starting an exercise program from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00416

Download a printer-friendly version of the Community In Motion workbook exercises.

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