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Cardio.


Cardiovascular exercise helps one burn off fat and lose weight, slows the aging process, improves mood through the release of endorphins, and greatly increases one's energy level. I highly recommend that your fitness routine include one or more of these styles of exercise. The technique page also includes notes on circuit training, which is a great way to build strength and cardio all at once. For more movements from the Element Training program, click on the figure at left.

  Walking  
We all know how to walk so I'll keep this short... using foot-power for short trips is a great way to maintain a minimum fitness and weight loss level and keep the air cleaner. A pedometer can measure your distance and calories burned if you like to keep track. Walking can also be a relaxing and meditative activity; be mindful of your motion and the scenery around you, breathe deeply and be with every step.

  Jogging  
I recommend doing this outdoors as treadmills are kind of boring. First I'd talk to a shoe expert and buy a pair of running shoes that suits your gait. Warm up with walking and cool down with more walking. Keep your back upright but relaxed, your shoulders relaxed as well, and breathe deeply in synch with your steps. Fire-type exercises for the knees, forelegs and lower back will help cushion those weight-bearing joints.

  Sprinting  
This is more fun when you're racing somebody. All I really need to say here is: give 'er.

  Cycling  
Cross-country cycling trips are a great way to test your endurance. Be sure your tires are pumped, your chain is oiled, and your brakes and gears are tuned up, and bring a helmet and plenty of water. Adjust the seat so your knees are straight but not locked at the bottom of your stroke, and add pedal clips to pull upward during the opposite foot's stroke and create a nice full-leg workout. Focus the effort on your glutes, or your knees, or on your calves by bending and extending at the ankle. You can cover surprisingly large distances on a bike if you build up to it; one friend of mine went from British Columbia through to Central America. His advice was to get a very comfortable seat and to stretch the glutes often.

  Swimming  
This is a great way to burn off fat and tone the entire body. In addition to working the official strokes if you know them, I recommend taking the time to play around with freestyle movements in both shallow and deep water. The water can add resistance and thus muscle toning to just about any movement, and can be great physiotherapy for dealing with injuries.

  Skipping  
This is no-nonsense co-ordination building cardio straight out of the dojo. Rotate the rope at your wrists, and jump high enough to keep your feet away from the rope. Move your feet in and out or forward and back, turn your hips as you jump, or whip the rope around twice in one jump. If you can find a heavy 2 or 5 pound rope you're in for some amazing forearm exercise.

  Sports  
Whatever sport you happen to like is probably a great way to put your fitness training into action, meet some new friends, and have fun. If you're less competitive and don't mind the hippy stigma, hacky-sack is an enjoyable game. If you're mainly into self-improvement, martial arts is a life-changing practice that'll help develop your mind, body and spirit to its fullest potential. Enjoy.

that's gross.