Best Cardio Workouts & Exercises for Abs

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best cardio workouts abs exercise

What is Cardio Exercise and how Much do You Need?

Cardio exercise is any movement that increases your heart rate. It serves two purposes: heart health; and weight loss.On average, an adult should have 30 minutes of moderate cardio exercise five times a week, to maintain good heart health.

The amount of cardio exercise needed for weight loss depends on your current BMI (body mass index – that is, weight to height ratio,) and the rate at which you want to shed those pounds.Generally, a person whose fat content is high will burn more calories than a leaner person when the two are performing the same exercise regimen.

Cardio Exercise Options

Walking, hiking, dancing, swimming, bicycling,  and rowing, for example, are excellent cardio workouts. Some sports are less apt to fill your need for cardio exercise, because of the intermittent nature of their movements. Golf, for instance, while giving your arms, hips and legs a workout does not fulfill your need for cardio, as your body will only be in motion intermittently.

Calorie burn (approximate) of the most common cardio workouts:

  • Jumping Rope – More than 1,000 calories shed per hour
  • Rowing –  Over 800 calories per hour
  • Running, cycling or swimming  – Each 600 calories per hour
  • Walking –  Depending on speed, 300 to 400 calories per hour.

Cardio exercises are not the most effective choices for toning and shaping specific problem areas, such as the abdominal muscles, better known as abs.  An overweight, out-of-shape adult who wants to lose weight, maintain his heart health and also get rid of his love handles, will best succeed with a combination of cardio workout and ab exercise.

What Can a Good Ab Exercise do for You? 

Simply put, working your abs gives you back your flat stomach.No easy task, this might be the most difficult of exercise goals to achieve. Unlike cardio workouts, however, ab exercises take far less time and far less space. They can be done anywhere, and with the tools readily available at home, in your hotel room, or even at the office.

Here, then, are two excellent ab exercises that require no fancy equipment:

  • Abdominal hold – All you need is a sturdy chair. Sit up straight, put your hands on the edge of the chair so that your fingers are pointing to your knees, tighten your abs and then, using your hands as support, lift your toes at least two inches ( and no more than four) from the floor. Now lift your butt up off the chair, and hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this for a full minute.

 

  • Arm and Leg Raise – All you need is a surface such as a yoga mat, to keep your knees comfortable.  Kneel on all fours, with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Raise your left arm to the height of your shoulder and your left leg to the height of your hip. Reaching back with your heels and forward with your fingers, hold this position for two seconds.  Do this 15 times and then change sides – that is, repeat the exercise 15 times with your right arm and leg. Once this exercise becomes easier, you can add the greater challenge of touching one of your elbows to the opposite knee as you pull your arm and leg in.

With a regular combination of these cardio workouts and ab exercises, you’ll lose weight, maintain a healthy heart and perhaps even convert those love handles to six pack abs.

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Jennifer has been a health writer and editor for 7 years. She has contributed to many national magazines and web sites, including Fitness, Health, Reader Digest, Shape and many more.

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