Best Cardiovascular Workouts for Women

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Cardiovascular training is essential for promoting women’s health. Cardiovascular exercise is any aerobic activity that increases your heart rate up to 85% of its maximum heart rate. Working out in the cardiovascular zone improves your heart and lung conditioning, hence the name ‘cardio.’

Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise
You simply can’t say enough about the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Apart from strengthening your heart, routine cardio exercise can help lower body fat, improve lung function, increase bone and muscle mass and even help combat depression.

For cardiovascular exercise to be helpful, you have to get enough of it. That means you should plan to exercise for 30-60 minutes 2-6 days per week. The more often you workout, the stronger your cardiovascular system. Most studies suggest working out between five and six days per week confers the most benefit.

Cardiovascular Exercise And Depression
Cardiovascular exercise is excellent for improving our moods and fighting depression. Cardio helps boost the body’s levels of endorphins. These chemicals make us feel good, energetic and motivated. Even just 20 minutes of exercise can result in long-term mood elevation. That’s why some any people enjoy working out in the early morning. It provides them the energy they need to get through their day.
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Best Cardio Exercises For Women
There are dozens of cardiovascular activities you can engage in. Some examples of the most popular cardiovascular exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging/Running
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Aerobics
  • Kickboxing
  • Jumping Rope
  • Team Sports
The best cardiovascular exercise for women is simply the exercise that will keep you motivated to continue your fitness journey. Swimming is an excellent sport for women because it is low impact. That means it’s easy on the knees and joints. It is a good choice for anyone just starting out or anyone with joint or knee injuries. Because knee injuries are more common in women than men, this is a great form of cardiovascular exercise. It is even better for women during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the water helps our bodies become more buoyant. This helps relieve much of the pressure and back pain associated with carrying around our babies.

Swimming is also a total body workout. That means you work your upper and lower body. Most other fitness exercises like jogging or biking concentrate on the lower body. Aerobics and kickboxing are other great cardiovascular alternatives for working the entire body. Remember, the more muscle groups you involve in your fitness activities, the more calories you will burn and the better you will feel.

If you are selecting a cardiovascular routine for the first time, you should consider mixing several different activities. You may for example, consider an aerobics class twice per week, and alternate swimming with jogging or biking. Keeping your fitness routines diverse will help keep you motivated and reduce your risk for repetitive injuries. You will also involve more muscle groups the more activities you engage in. As you try new exercises and fitness groups, you’ll find cardiovascular exercises you prefer over others. You can incorporate these more often in your exercise routine.

Length Of Cardiovascular Workouts
Many women worry they won’t reap the benefits of a cardiovascular exercise program unless they work out for 60 minutes at a time. This simply isn’t the case. Even if you have just 15 minutes to work out, your body will benefit from cardiovascular exercise. One way to fit in mini bursts of cardiovascular exercise is by walking. You can walk on your lunch breaks to help boost your energy and clear your mind.

To gain the maximum benefits of a cardiovascular training program, you should work to get 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least 3 times every week. Studies suggest that doing so will increase your body’s aerobic capacity within 12 weeks.

How Often Should I Work Out?
How often you work out will depend on your health and your goals. If your goal is to improve your overall cardiovascular fitness, you’ll need to work out at least 3-5 days per week. This is also the case if you plan to train for an event, like a 5k run. Exercising any more often than this, particularly if you regularly engage in high impact cardio exercises can increase your risk of injury. Your best bet is to give yourself a day or so between intense workouts.

Working out two days a week is enough to help improve your aerobic fitness and maintain your health if you are in fairly good shape already. You can combine two days or cardiovascular exercise with two days of strength training to maximize the health benefits you get from exercising. Remember, cardiovascular exercise is essential for your health and well-being. Make the time necessary to fit it into your schedule and you’ll find you look and feel better each and every day.