Getting Started with Cardio Exercise

all about cardio exerciseDespite what some Instagram accounts would have you believe, current research suggests that cardio does have an important place in your fitness routine.  (If you’re looking to make lasting changes in the way you look and feel, you should include some strength training as well.)

How much cardio do I need?

According to the CDC, you will have health benefits from 150 minutes of moderate activity (you can carry on a conversation but it’s a bit difficult), 75 minutes of vigorous activity (there will be breaks in the conversation), or an equivalent mixture of the two.

You may read other information that suggests you need x minutes of cardio to lose z pounds, but that is a bit of an oversimplification! The CDC guidelines are a great target to aim for.

What cardio should I do?

Moderate activity includes brisk walking or biking, a dance class, and most cardio machines at the gym if you’re keeping your heart rate at least at 65% of your max (max heart rate = 220-your age, roughly).

Vigorous activity includes jogging or running and almost all cardio fitness classes (spin, Zumba, kickboxing, etc.)

Swimming or playing a sport also counts! Your exertion level will depend on how you participate.

While yardwork, moving furniture, housecleaning, and other daily life activities have some fitness value, I would encourage you not to count these tasks toward your cardio minutes because the sustained effort level isn’t the same as that of a dedicated fitness activity. However, that’s not a free pass to stop folding the laundry.

What about HIIT?

HIIT and other interval training can offer big benefits for your metabolism, fat loss, and cardio-respiratory health. However, the formats and options available are too varied for me to make one single recommendation! Check with your fitness professional for tips, read a little more about my take on HIIT, and start wherever you are in your fitness journey. There’s no golden bullet.

What about LISS?

The intensity of your cardio will depend on your specific goals.  If you’re just starting out, don’t worry about terms like LISS and HIIT yet – just find some cardio activities that you enjoy!  If you’re advanced enough to worry about the different intensities and durations of your cardio workouts, I recommend that you consult a fitness professional to find out what’s right for your goals and your current physiology.

Make your cardio better.

Two easy ways to make your cardio workouts better: get the right shoes and bring the right tunes (but, for safety, always make sure you can hear your surroundings if you’re outside).  Some of my favorite Spotify playlists for cardio work include Confidence Booster, Top Female Artists, and Brazilian pop star Anitta’s personal work out playlist.  Tiny Fitness even has its own Tiny Fitness Pandora station. (All of those are available free to you on any device as long as you don’t mind a few ads!)

More questions about cardio that we didn’t answer here?  Contact Tiny Fitness and let us know how we can help!

Make sure to take a look at our other home workout tips, including how to get started with strength training and how to be your own personal trainer!

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