Few things deliver a healthy punch like cardio: Your muscles, including your heart, are working hard.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are pretty clear that when it comes to cardio, “any amount helps, usually more is better, and many Americans are too sedentary,” says exercise physiologist and running coach Janet Hamilton , CSCS, MA, told LIVESTRONG.com.
However, if you’re after specific benefits such as heart health, weight loss, or general fitness, you may need to target your cardio more specifically.
So if you’re wondering “how much cardio should I do?” here are some ways to schedule your weekly cardio workouts based on your goals.
Activities that involve consistent exercise and the use of large muscle groups to raise your heart rate are one of the best ways to keep your cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) healthy.
Higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk.People who report the most physical activity have a 60 percent lower risk of heart disease than their less active peers, according to a January 2021 study in PLOS Medicine.But researchers have found that even an increase in activity of 1,000 steps a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
So how long should aerobic exercise be to boost heart health?Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week.
“If someone wants to minimize the average risk of cardiovascular disease, it’s the bare minimum,” Paul Krieger, a registered dietitian and Life Time certified personal trainer who specializes in endurance training, told LIVESTRONG .com.
For greater heart health benefits, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends increasing your total weekly activity to 300 minutes.
Choose any form of cardio you enjoy.Walking is a great option and tends to be the most convenient, but other options include using the elliptical, biking, rowing, jogging/running, swimming, skiing, hiking, pickle balls, and even dancing.
No matter what activity you engage in, exercise at moderate intensity.You can still have a conversation at this intensity, but it should be challenging.
“If you’re not breathing harder than when you’re resting, then you’re probably not working hard enough to get the benefit,” Hamilton said.
Feel free to add higher-intensity cardio to your routine as you get fit.At higher intensities, you won’t be able to manage more than a few sentences (if any).
Beginners and those who resume exercising after a break may struggle to complete a 30-minute cardio session at a time.If this is the case, you may find it easier to break up your workout into chunks throughout the day.Think about it: 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.You can even try taking a walk after each meal to help make it a routine.
If your schedule is too packed to accommodate 30-minute blocks, it can also help to divide your cardio into chunks.”If someone’s really busy, they might find time to answer the phone while they’re walking,” Krigler said.
There is some overlap between exercising for heart health and general health.After all, a stronger heart contributes to fitness.
However, there are subtle differences between the two: “Heart health is about building enough cardiovascular resilience to carry out normal daily activities without getting bored, which also helps reduce the incidence of many chronic diseases,” Krieger said. .
Meanwhile, general fitness involves building enough cardiovascular capacity to enjoy moderate-intensity activities such as running, hiking with a backpack, swimming, and exercising.
If that’s your goal, you’ll want to gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing cardio.The goal is to increase by about 10% each week.
So, if you’re currently getting the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, aim for 165 minutes next week.
The total duration for this example week is 210 minutes.To add 10% (21 minutes) the following week, you can divide this extra time evenly into your workouts or focus on specific days.
“If you want to build the endurance portion of your fitness, start by adding the longest workouts,” says Hamilton.(Endurance refers to the physical and/or mental ability to sustain an extended effort.) Over the next week, increase your moderate-length workouts.After that, add to short workouts and repeat.
Simple and moderate-intensity cardio takes time, so if endurance isn’t a must, you can save time by doing more intense cardio.
For example, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — alternating all-out efforts during recovery periods — is a great way to build strength.
Thanks to high-intensity intervals, entire workouts can be short—about 20 minutes—while still being effective.In fact, a March 2021 review in the Journal of Physiology suggests that HIIT may provide similar improvements in cardiovascular fitness to traditional forms of aerobic exercise.
According to the American Heart Association, aerobic exercise offers many convenient benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, improving sleep and brain health, and reducing the risk of chronic disease.But help with weight loss?Not so much.
For example, according to a July-August 2018 review by Advances in Cardiovascular Disease, minimum guidelines for aerobic exercise (150 minutes per week) may be sufficient to improve heart health, but they are often not sufficient to lose weight without restricting calories. Lose weight.
For example, a 30-minute brisk walk at a rate of 17 minutes per mile burns only 107 to 159 calories, according to estimates from Harvard Health.This amount may help you achieve a healthy calorie deficit for weight loss, but research shows you need more calories burned to see meaningful weight loss with exercise.
In a March 2013 obesity study, overweight or obese people who exercised 400 calories five times a week lost 4.3 percent of their body weight over 10 months.Those who consumed 600 calories per workout (also 5 times per week) lost 5.7% of their body weight.Neither group reduced calorie intake.
To see a similar calorie burn, you’d have to briskly walk for two and a half to nearly four hours, according to estimates from Harvard Health.Or, you’ll have to increase the intensity: 30 minutes of running at a 10-minute-per-mile pace burns between 420 and 495 calories.
The reality is that many people cannot maintain an exercise routine that burns at least 400 calories five days a week.
Ultimately, when it comes to weight loss, nutrition is more important than the amount or type of cardio, Krigler said.
Here’s a way of thinking: You have to work on your food choices far more during the day than you can exercise.Even if you exercise for an hour, there are 15 hours left (not including sleep time).These 15 hours are full of opportunities to make dietary decisions.
“If that means you can spend time preparing meals, then you’re better off skipping your workouts,” Krigler says when considering weight loss.
All of this isn’t to say that cardio can’t or shouldn’t be a part of your routine if you’re trying to lose weight.In addition to being good for heart health, aerobic exercise can also lead to your weekly calorie deficit.
Strictly on calorie counts, you’re likely to burn more HIIT per minute than low- or moderate-intensity cardio.You can also burn more calories from fat if you exercise for the same amount of time.
For example, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio will burn a total of about 200 calories, 120 of which are from fat.However, if you ramp up your 30-minute workout to a high-intensity workout, you’ll burn about 400 calories, 140 of which are from fat.
However, most of us can’t do many high-intensity workouts in a week—experts don’t recommend doing them every day because your body needs time to rest.
While HIIT burns more calories, it’s easier to do low- and moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week, so it may be ideal for sustainable cardio.Mix high-intensity bursts for added challenge and variety.
Kriegler recommends doing at least 80% of your cardio at low-to-moderate intensity; the final 20% is more intense.Beginners should spend a few weeks building up this volume at low to moderate intensity.Then, work on increasing your intensity.
Post time: Jun-16-2022