Local knowledge: How to get fit


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Cardiovascular exercise is not only a feel-good part of getting and staying fit but also a very helpful tool to enjoy Beijing's brilliant restaurants without picking up the bill of gaining extra pounds.

Although its calorie burning quality and influence on the metabolism can keep a moderate lifestyle in balance, getting the heart pumping is truly beneficial for getting in a good physical shape.

By increasing the blood flow and enhancing the capacity of the heart, lungs and blood vessels, cardio contributes directly to the fitness of the mind and body. Running gives me a great high and helps sustain a good level of health as well as gaining more out of other workouts by improving endurance and speeding up the recovery process thereafter.

The easiest form of a cardio workout in Beijing is running and there are many great places to jog in the capital.

This city can be crazy with traffic jams but there are also many great parks and tree-lined streets. Check out Google map and find the best park or quiet areas near your home.

But before we start pounding the pavements, proper shoes and comfortable clothing must be sought.

The good news is that these items can be found really cheap in most sport stores and malls.

Any exercise begins with light stretching and then off I go. Build up a run slowly and increase the pace, distance, duration and frequency over time.

And while, you're running, don't forget to stop and smell the roses. Check out the great surrounding sites. In Beijing, you are running through so much history.

Stretching afterwards and having a day of rest in between are the finishing touches.

Every week, three 20-minute cardio sessions is a good start in getting in shape. Choosing something that can be enjoyed is probably the best and only goal to start off with.

No matter what shape somebody is in, if there's the lack of enjoyment, there's no endurance in the long run.

But if you don't want to run, there is brisk walking, aerobics classes, and machines for cycling and rowing.

As long as there's continuous movement it can be called cardio.

Most untrained people can not run constantly for 20 minutes so every time the body asks for a rest, you may want to walk in between.

Now here is a trick for people who want to lose weight. I found that a morning cardio exercise on an empty stomach, after have drunken enough fluids (water), has the greatest fat and calorie burning effect.

When it comes to the duration, depending on the goal of the work out, a 20-minute high-intensity exercise has much more effect than an hour-long run.

And I found that variety in exercise prevents injuries and boredom so I vary my running routes.

During Beijing's heavier polluted days, aerobic exercise inside a gym is the best way to go.

By fitting cardio in an exercise routine in combination with the right nutrition, a Beijing life gets better and can be enjoyed more and longer.

Maarten Kalusche, jogging enthusiast