Losing weight is a journey and there are many ways to get there. But, one of the tried and true routes toward shedding pounds and pumping up your heart health is cardio. Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, means that you’re doing an activity “with oxygen.” Cardio uses large muscle groups, requires controlled breathing, increases your heart rate, and keeps it in an aerobic zone for a set amount of time. Some common forms of cardio include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and fitness classes. Specifically, experts say that the best form of cardio to shed weight in your midsection is running. While cardio does burn calories and helps aid in weight loss, just how much cardio does it take to lose weight?
To learn more about how much cardio you need to do every day to lose weight, we spoke with Hannah Shine, a certified personal trainer and fitness coach at Hourglass Waist. She said that while the exact number will vary from person to person, a good guideline would be 30 to 60 minute sessions, 3 to 5 times per week. Shine also stresses that you shouldn’t overdo it and to listen to your body. Find out more below!
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How Much Cardio Should You Do Every Day To Lose Weight
While we know how many miles you have to walk every day to lose weight, how much cardio do you actually need to do every day to lose weight? First, Shine addresses what cardio exercises are and points out some of her favorite, effective cardio exercises.
"When you perform cardiovascular exercises, your heart rate increases and your body burns calories for energy. As a result, consistent cardio workouts can help you create a calorie deficit, which is necessary to lose weight," Shine says. "However, cardio alone may not be enough for significant weight loss, and a balanced diet and strength training are also important components of a weight loss plan."
She cites running, cycling, swimming, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), jumping rope, rowing, and elliptical training as popular and effective cardio exercises. "All of these workouts can get your heart rate up and help you burn calories, but it's important to choose an activity that you enjoy and can stick to long-term," Shine notes.
"The type of cardio workout I recommend to my clients for weight loss depends on their preferences, fitness level, and any health concerns they may have," she continues. "However, I often suggest a combination of low to [moderate-intensity] steady-state cardio (such as walking or cycling) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. This combination can help improve cardiovascular health, burn calories, and boost metabolism."
And, when it comes to how much cardio she recommends you do every day to lose weight, Shine says, "The amount of cardio I recommend for weight loss depends on the individual's fitness level, goals, and time availability. However, as a general guideline, I usually suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio per week. This can be broken down into 30-60 minute sessions, 3-5 times per week." She also warns against overdoing it as excessive cardio can lead to "burnout and injuries." Nobody wants that!
"In addition to regular cardio exercise, I recommend my clients maintain a healthy diet, including lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables," Shine adds. "Getting enough rest and managing stress are also crucial for weight loss success. Lastly, I advise my clients to track their progress and celebrate their achievements along the way, as this can help keep them motivated and on track toward their goals."
The Bottom Line
All in all, run (or walk!) at your own pace and try to get 30 to 60 minute cardio sessions three to five times per week. Shine emphasizes the importance of finding a cardio exercise that works for your life, your routine, and something that you enjoy. If you hate running with a burning passion, try walking, hiking, or swimming. Or if you really want to challenge yourself, you can try fitness classes or activities that combine cardio exercises and strength training for one killer sweat sesh. Combining cardio, strength training, and a healthy diet will help you on your weight loss journey!