I've played hockey for 9 years. But, because of my accident, I stopped playing for 3 1/2 years due to injuries. I got cleared on Monday after having surgery on my ACL and meniscus. And yesterday, (Wed) I went to play a pick up game. It was horrible. I could still skate, but, after a 5 minute shift I was dying out of breath to the point where I was getting light headed and I just couldn't get anywhere. How can I improve my cardio at home? I'm a 6'2" Male weight about 230LBs with strong legs. I have a bit of a stomach but not fat. I have good balance and I have no problem skating, but, I need something that can work for me. Any advice or tips would be appreciated.

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I can relate to your experience. I rowed competitively for a club until an injury that required surgery sidelined me for 10 months. First off, you can't expect to compete at the same pre injury level after a long layoff. It's best to set your expectations early. Just as your stamina took some time to diminish, it will take time to build it back up. Factors like the extent of your injury, your age and prior health and fitness level will affect how soon that happens.

In my case, I started out slow. I used a stationary recumbent bike to rebuild leg strength. After a while, I transitioned back to a rowing machine for multiple weekly sessions. I started out with the goal of increasing the intensity and time I spent on the machine every two to three weeks, until I could comfortably row for 20 minutes with relative ease.

It really doesn't matter what type of exercise you do, as long as, you start slow and continue to increase the demand on your heart and lungs. Something as simple as step ups in your house should suffice. The important thing to remember is to set your goals such that the end result is you can elevate your heart rate for 20 or minutes without much discomfort. For a more intense workout, you may want to shoot for 30 to 45 minutes.

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