How Much Cardio You Actually Need To Do Every Week To Lose Weight

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When it comes to weight loss, it’s good to come up with a strategy and think about what workouts will help you burn those extra calories. Cardio is an excellent exercise to incorporate into your fitness routine not only to lose weight but to promote heart health, lower blood pressure and boost mood.

While there are many different factors to take into consideration for weight loss, we spoke to trainers for a general guideline as to how much cardio you need for a slimmer waistline.

How Cardio Helps with Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, it’s all about being in a calorie deficit. That means that the calories you’re consuming are less than the calories you burn.

There are two ways to go about reaching a calorie deficit, which when performed simultaneously prove the best and fastest results, John Gardner, NASM-certified personal trainer and the CEO and co-founder of Kickoff, explains. The first includes reducing calories consumed by following a healthy diet, restricting calorie intake. and removing any high-calorie unhealthy foods from your diet.

When you exercise, you burn more calories and therefore help reach a greater calorie deficit to lose weight. Cardio is one of the forms of exercise that helps elevate the heart rate and lose more calories in the process, thus leading to weight loss, Gardner adds.

Related: Here’s How Many Calories You Burn Per Day—and What To Keep In Mind If You’re Trying To Lose Weight

When it comes to cardio, the simplest answer is that any cardio can help you lose weight, Joey Thurman, CES CPT FNS at Kuudose, explains. Cardio is simply burning energy (calories) to fuel your workout during and to some extent after you are done working out depending on the type of cardio. So if you eat less and move a little more, the scale will go down.

The Amount of Cardio You Need To Do Every Week To Lose Weight
This heavily depends on your age, gender, weight, activity level and level of intensity. However, it is usually recommended to do three to five times of cardio sessions per week for 45 minutes, Gardner states.

There are many different factors to take into consideration.

“Do you move a lot during the day? Do you lift weights? Are you going to cut calories?” Thurman asks. “Most people don’t need to only stick with traditional cardio—you can resistance train two to three days a week and simply take multiple walks a day for 10-15 minutes at a time for your extra movement or ‘cardio.’”

Doing cardio can and will help you lose weight and gain more endurance. Most people should get 30 minutes at a minimum of exercise per day whether that’s walking, running, chasing the kids, etc., Thurman states. More isn’t necessarily better.

As you work out more your body can only burn so many calories in a day and will hit a threshold and naturally slow down your non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)—the tiny movements you do throughout the day. If you’ve ever seen a pro athlete when they aren’t working out or training, they often move very slowly as their body is conserving energy for the game or practice, Thurman adds.

Types of Cardio Exercises
Swimming
Swimming is an excellent form of aerobic activity that helps in generating the benefits of physical activity while still being easy on the joints. It can help promote weight loss, build muscle, prevent injuries and relieve back pain, Gardner explains.

If you’re new to swimming, it is best to start at a slow pace and gradually build up to a high-intensity workout. However, if you’ve been swimming for a while and want to lose fat, this workout is effective:

Warm-up: Swim at a moderate pace for 200 m

Pre-set: Freestyle 200 meters, kick for 100 meters x2
Do three sets of the following: Rest for 1 minute between sets.
Minute 1: Front crawl at a high speed for 50 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
Minute 2: Backstroke at a high speed for 50 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
Minute 3: Forward kicks only at maximum speed for 50 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
Minute 4: Backstroke (arms only, keep legs straight) at a maximum speed for 50 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.
Minute 5: Breaststroke at a high speed for 50 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds.

Mile repeats
Thurman recommends running a mile as fast as you can, timing it, and then walking the same time it took you to run. Rise and repeat several times.

HIIT
Interval training is great if done right. Do a sprint, bike hard, jump rope, etc., and go as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds, take a breather for 30 seconds to two minutes and repeat for multiple rounds for about 25 minutes, Thurman suggests.

Walking
Daily walks and walking after a meal for 10 minutes are great for burning calories, digestion and bloating. Do this 3-4 times a day, Thurman says. Even try walking backward—it’s great for knee health.

 

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