When NASA decided to send man to the moon they called in a top health scientist Kenneth Cooper MD to work with the astronauts. His job was to ensure that they were going to be able to withstand the enormous pressure that walking in space would put them under.

Cooper researched the effect of exercise on the heart, lungs and blood vessels and eventually was able to show that only one form of activity has a major impact on our health and longevity. We call that activity cardio vascular exercise and put simply it is any exercise that will get us puffing.

Of course when doing cardio we need to know the three simple rules: Frequency (how often?), Duration (how long each session should last) and Intensity (how tough should each session be?)

You will notice that the type of exercise you do is irrelevant. All that matters is that whatever you do, the frequency, duration and intensity has to be right. At Gymophobics we recommend that our members do a jog or a walk, both of which can be done in the open air of course which is surely much better than using a treadmill inside four walls?

FREQUENCY: Cooper tells us that we should be doing some cardio five or six times per week.

DURATION : Twenty minutes (or more) is ideal but beginners should build up to this gradually.

INTENSITY : No need to go mad and push yourself like an athlete. As long as you are going fast enough to raise your heart rate and get you puffing a little bit you are doing fine. If you are a technical type of person, you might want to purchase a wrist monitor which measures your heart rate as you go along. Cooper tells us we should aim to get our heart rate up to 65 percent of its maximum.

At Gymophobics we aim for a lower figure however. Unless you are super fit! please aim for 55 percent of maximum HR. To determine what this is, simply detract your age from the number 220, then use a calculator to tell you what 55 percent of that number is. Then try to maintain that heart rate throughout your walk or jog.

Note: The only exception to the above is for someone with a history of heart problems, angina, etc. Your heart rate target should be lower at 50 percent of maximum instead of 55 percent and of course you should have your Doctor’s permission to exercise in this way.

So what do the stats show us? Research around the world all come up with the same result. Those people who perform cardio in the way outlined by Cooper live far longer on average than those who don’t!

They have two thirds less strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. So getting in your daily cardio session has a lot going for it!