Bust through any fitness plateau and keep your heart ticking strong with this month-long challenge.

Here are a few scary statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack every year. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year—that's 1 out of 4 deaths. And heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

The good news, almost all risk factors associated with heart disease are lifestyle related. That means eating, moving and thinking right can literally add years to your life.

How? Cardiovascular-interval training is one excellent way to strengthen your ticker. Cardio intervals are short bursts of intense exercise that get your heart pumping, lungs working and body moving.

The five exercises listed below not only get your heart rate up, but they also strengthen muscles from head to toe.

Bust through any fitness plateau and keep your heart ticking strong with this month-long challenge.

How To Do The 30-Day Cardio Challenge

At the end of your regular exercise routine, add at least one set of each of the following exercises. Aim for at least 30 seconds per exercise for week one and increase by at least 15 seconds each week. Time your intervals and record them on your tracker.

  • Burpees
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Jump Squats
  • Ski Jumps
  • Mountain Climbers

If you don't have a regular routine or are short on time, do these moves as a quick circuit. Make sure to do an easy warm up for 5 to 10 minutes (walk, run, bike) and cool down for about five minutes with some easy stretching. These five exercises are body weight movements, so you have lots of control over the intensity of each move.

Watch this quick video for exercise instructions and modifications.

Note: Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

30-Day Cardio Challenge Instructions


1. You can do these moves as many times as you like each week. You can do as many rounds as you would like, but you must commit to at least one round four days per week to do the challenge correctly.

2. At the beginning of the month you'll need to record your resting heart rate and again at the end of the month. A low resting heart rate is a sign of a healthy and strong heart. It's best to take this measurement first thing in the morning while you're still in bed.

3. Using your tracker, record how long you perform each move. Remember, some days are better than others. Focus on the overall trend and celebrate every day you get stronger. Just try to increase the duration by at least 15 seconds per exercise each week.

4. Try not to take more than half the duration of the interval as recovery in-between exercises (i.e. you did bicycle crunches for 30 seconds, rest for 15 seconds before moving to jump squats).

5. Because a healthy ticker is also a happy heart, make sure you record at least one positive thought per day.

Get Started

1. Print out your tracker; fill in the dates you will be doing the challenge.

2. Join the Happy, Healthy, Fit and Fun 30-Day Challenge Series Community for regular updates on new challenges and other fit tips.

3. Get social for more support and motivation. "Like" the 30-Day Challenge Series on Facebook and Instagram. Or, follow @30_Challenge on Twitter.

4. Share this challenge with your friends, family and coworkers. It's fun working out with a group of friends!
This article originally appeared on Active.com