When it comes to weight loss, there’s no getting around the fact that you need to eat well and to exercise regularly. This is because to shed unwanted pounds, you need to create a caloric deficit. This means you need to burn more calories than you take in.
The healthiest way to do this is to combine cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and wholesome eating habits. Today, we’ll be focusing on the role of cardio in promoting weight loss. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
What is Cardio
For most people, cardio exercises bring out images of sweat sessions on the treadmill or running up a hill. But the truth is it’s more than that. Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise is also known as aerobic exercise. It is characterized by three things:
1. It uses a large group of muscles to perform tasks
2. It requires respiration or controlled breathing
3. It increases your heart rate while keeping it in an aerobic zone for a set period
There are many forms of cardio and some are more intense than others. This includes walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and fitness classes. Cardio machines may include a rower, elliptical, stair climber, upright or recumbent bike, and treadmill.
Cardio can be classified into three:
High impact activities: High impact exercises such as those that involve running or jumping will often burn more calories than lower-impact activities such as walking, but your workout doesn't even need to consist entirely of high impact moves. You can add a few to your current workout and you'll burn more calories.
Impact activities: Exercises that involve some impact, like walking, will usually boost your heart rate faster than non-impact activities like swimming or cycling.
Whole-body activities: Cardio routines that engage both the upper and lower body, such as cross-country skiing, can boost your heart rate and burn more calories. You can also do this with compound strength exercises, which provide the benefits of cardio while building strength and endurance.
Benefits of Cardio for Weight Loss
The main benefit of cardio of weight loss is it adds to your overall caloric deficit. By moving more, you burn more calories which means you don’t have to cut as many calories from your diet. It’s important to note, however, that you shouldn’t be eating more after a workout.
Another benefit of cardio is that it helps you burn more calories at once. The harder and longer your work, the more calories you burn. But again, there’s a caveat because there’s always a point of diminishing return when it comes to cardio. High-intensity cardio should only fall between 70% and 85% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). This feels challenging and leaves you breathless enough to talk. Anything more than that just leaves you unnecessarily exhausted.
Cardio is also the perfect addition to a strength training routine. Lifting weights helps you build muscle mass while cardio helps improve your endurance. A combination of these two types of workouts is a powerhouse for fat burning and weight loss. A good balance cardio and resistance training is your best option to shed unwanted pounds.
Finally, cardio is a great way to accelerate your metabolism. As you increase the intensity of your cardio activities, you tend to expend more energy and therefore burn more calories. This helps speed up your metabolic rate so you can reach your weight loss goals more efficiently.
How Much Cardio Do You Need?
Determining how much cardio you need every week depends on your goals.
For general health, try moderately-intense cardio 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, or vigorously-intense cardio for 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. You can also do a mixture.
For weight loss and/or to avoid regaining weight, you may need to do more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to meet your goals.
To maintain a healthy body weight, you need about 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-
How to Include Cardio in Your Workout Routine
Creating a workout plan that includes both strength training and cardio is the best way to strike a balance between the two exercises. You can work with a fitness coach to develop a program that suits your needs and goals. But if you don’t have immediate access to one or if you prefer to work out at home, just remember that a balanced workout routine should always include:
Cardiovascular exercise. Perform cardio exercise three to five days a week for 30 to 60 minutes each session.
Strength training. Perform two to three days a week of strength training exercises that involve all major muscle groups.
Flexibility and stretching.Include daily stretching and flexibility exercises.
Rest. Include at least one to two days of rest each week. You can participate in active recovery exercises such as yoga or light stretching on your rest days.