Love it or hate it, cardio is great for you. Cardio can improve your health, quality of life, and athletic and physique goals. There are many ways to do cardio, though, so let’s cover the details so you can discover what style is best for you.
American Heart Association Guidelines
For reference, the American Heart Association recommends, in addition to 2 days a week of moderate to high intensity muscle building activity, either:
- at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes. These can be broken into 10 minutes chunks. OR
- at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes
Low Intensity Steady State
LISS cardio is done at a very low intensity, or slow pace, usually for an extended period of time. This is usually a long walk and is done for recovery or just extra movement. If you are an experienced swimmer or cyclist and can settle into an easy pace, you can do LISS with those methods too. If you are physically exhausted from an accumulation of hard training, this is a good option.
Moderate Intensity Exercise
Moderate intensity exercise is a step above LISS in intensity, but is very do-able for a period of time. Examples include brisk walking, walking on a treadmill at an incline, jogging, cycling, rowing or swimming. Moderate intensity exercise can be done multiple times a week.
High Intensity Exercise
High intensity exercise is vigorous in nature and feels highly exertional. High intensity exercise sessions will usually be harder and quicker than moderate or low intensity. Examples include running, hard cycling, swimming and jump roping.
High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training (HIIT) is characterized by bouts of high intensity alternating with low intensity or rest intervals. The high intensity intervals are typically done at an exertion level near impossible to maintain, thus necessitating the rest periods. Examples include sprints, hill sprints, stair climbing, kettle bell swinging, and jump roping. You might do HIIT only a couple times a week since it is quite demanding.
It All Adds Up!
Remember that exercise accumulates! No movement is wasted! Find something fun and try a new cardio method today!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.