If you lead a sedentary lifestyle and are keen on exercise, then the best bet would be to opt for endurance-based activities such as cycling, Nordic walking or aqua cycling to help avoid injury and heart palpitations. Here are six top sports for getting started, recommended by sports cardiologist, Laurent Uzan.
Indoor cycling at home or in the gym
Cycling is an ideal way to start exercising from scratch because the body’s weight is supported by the bike, easing the strain on joints. Cycling is even suitable for people suffering from back pain and the intensity of the workout can be varied easily. Cycling at a moderate pace can burn up to 600 calories per hour. An exercise bike at home can help keep you motivated in bad weather.
Like cross-country skiing, the cross-trainer (or elliptical trainer) is a gym machine that works both arms and legs. This endurance-based exercise can burn 400 to 600 calories, depending on your weight and workout intensity. When starting out, five to 10 minutes every day is better than a two-hour slog on Sunday morning.
Aquabiking brings added benefits to cycling, encouraging lymphatic drainage and boosting circulation thanks to the extra resistance created by immersion in water. It’s a great cellulite-buster and crunches calories at a rate of up to 400 per half-hour session. Many gyms with pools now offer aqua cycling classes, usually with taster sessions for beginners. Special aqua cycling centers are also an option.
Dancing is a great way to get moving with a workout that’s loads of fun. Energetic dance classes like Zumba or hip hop aren’t recommended in this case, but there’s now a huge choice of styles, offering something for everyone. Ballroom dancing is a great way to improve coordination while preventing osteoporosis, especially for seniors.
For sedentary people or seniors, Nordic walking is a great activity that gets the heart pumping and works the whole body. In fact, this type of walking with poles uses both upper and lower limbs, getting 80% to 90% of the body’s muscles moving. It therefore burns more calories than regular walking, busting 380 calories per 30-minute session compared to 250 calories for regular walking. It’s also a great way to get outside and enjoy the scenery with organized group walks.
Although running is usually recommended for more experienced exercisers with higher fitness levels, anyone can take up the sport by learning to run progressively. First of all, take 10 minutes to warm up. Next, walk briskly for four minutes then break into a slow jog for one minute. Repeat this five-minute sequence five more times to make a 30-minute session. Finish off with a five-minute recovery period. Little by little, the jogging/running time can be increased, next to three minutes of walking with two minutes of running, then two minutes of walking and three minutes of running, etc. Eventually, you’ll be able to manage 30 minutes of continuous running.