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Want to get fit? Cardio is a great way to get your heart rate up, your blood pumping and your weight down. (Plus, cardio classes at the gym are actually fun!)

We all know that exercise is great for both your body and mind, but did you know that cardiovascular exercise actually helps to increase your lung capacity, reduce stress, get better sleep and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or getting diabetes? It's also, of course, great for toning up, boosting your fitness and losing weight.

Any gym class that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping will do wonders for your body. Ultimately, the best class is going to be the one you enjoy, because there's a far greater chance you'll actually stick to it over the long term. Grab a gym buddy and get active!

Slow & steady vs. high intensity

Both types of cardio offer great benefits. For example, slow and steady workouts take better care of your joints as there's generally less jarring, and the lower intensity means you can endure a longer session. High intensity cardio, however, usually lasts around 20 to 30 minutes and will not only help to boost your metabolism but will also burn plenty of calories.

Choosing your cardio

Check out your local gym to find out all of the cardio classes they have on offer. If you're not a fan of exercising in large groups, you could also develop your own routine on the gym floor. For example, set up your own interval training with the treadmill, cross-trainer and bike, where you move between each in 15-minute intervals. This is a great way to keep your workout fun and interesting.

When choosing the right class for you, think about what kind of exercise you normally enjoy doing. Do you love rowing? Going for a bike ride? Tuning out and notching up the kms with headphones in your ears?

Class options

Aerobics: There are so many aerobics-related classes on offer at gyms these days! Chances are, you'll find one that's the perfect fit for you. Whether you like to get a little bit of dancing in with Zumba, or you prefer a straight-up step class, many women find that working out in a fun, supportive environment is motivating and fun.

Kickboxing: This is another fun gym class that's becoming increasingly popular with women. Not only will it increase your coordination and fitness, but it will also help boost your confidence when it comes to self-defence. The combination of kicking and punching will benefit both your upper and lower body.

Spin or RPM: On your bikes, ladies! These classes are intense workouts but you'll feel fantastic afterwards. Your instructor will guide you to adjust your speed and resistance (e.g. to replicate hills and valleys) to create an interesting, but intense, class. Pack your waterbottle and a towel.

Swimming: If your gym has a pool, you may like to try out a swimming class for a total body workout. This kind of exercise is low-impact so it's great for those who hate the jarring aspect of running, and will certainly get your heart rate up. Find a beginner group or an all-female squad if you're just starting out and want to build up your confidence before hitting the fast lane.

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