FART – lek training. Lol. I’m letting my inner six-year old out with saying that one a few times. So first off, yes, this is a real thing. It is a Swedish word that means “speed play” and also happens to be a handy technique for people that are looking to increase their walking or running pace.
Runners live by numbers and are constantly trying to improve their splits, race times and PRs (personal records for those non-running folks). Walkers aren’t usually as focused on their times but it’s my thought that they should be. Why? It could be the difference between a walk that counts as exercise and a walk that’s just a stroll. And that’s where you want to be to experience the benefits of cardiovascular exercise .
The benefits of cardio exercise aren’t limited to the heart and it’s function. By actively engaging in a little heart pumping activity about 4-5 times per week, you can also experience these benefits:
- Keep excess pounds at bay. Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps you lose weight and keep it off.
- Increase your stamina. Aerobic exercise may make you tired in the short term. But over the long term, you’ll enjoy increased stamina and reduced fatigue.
- Ward off viral illnesses. Aerobic exercise may activate your immune system. This may leave you less susceptible to minor viral illnesses, such as colds and flu.
- Reduce your health risks. Aerobic exercise reduces the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke and certain types of cancer. Weight-bearing aerobic exercises, such as walking, reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Manage chronic conditions. Aerobic exercise may help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar. If you have coronary artery disease, aerobic exercise may help you manage your condition.
- Strengthen your heart. A stronger heart doesn’t need to beat as fast. A stronger heart also pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body.
- Keep your arteries clear. Aerobic exercise boosts your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good,” cholesterol, and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad,” cholesterol. This may result in less buildup of plaques in your arteries.
- Boost your mood. Aerobic exercise may ease the gloominess of depression, reduce the tension associated with anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Stay active and independent as you age. Aerobic exercise keeps your muscles strong, which can help you maintain mobility as you get older. Aerobic exercise also keeps your mind sharp. At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three days a week appears to reduce cognitive decline in older adults.
- Live longer. Studies show that people who participate in regular aerobic exercise live longer than those who don’t exercise regularly.
I like to book it when I walk. A little huff and puff added to my stride increases my heart rate and gets my muscles working a little harder and gets me into that exercise zone. My husband? He would prefer to stroll…to carry on a conversation and hold hands. (Awww…)
So how do we get someone like my husband more acclimated to faster speeds? Fartlek training – or speed play. This is where you can make little negotiations with yourself that you are going to walk faster or bust out into a little jog from this mailbox to that mailbox or telephone pole. On a treadmill? Then up your pace for the next few minutes. Or round it up to the next mile marker. Runners can do this to to increase their speed and endurance and is a nice break from watching the clock all of the time by focusing on something fun or less calculated.
So, the next time you’re out for a walk or a run, give it a try. Make sure to keep it fun and take breaks when you need to. For more information on customized workout plans, schedule a time with me for a personal training session.