Question

Exercise For Weight Loss

How much cardio should I do to lose weight?

A Answers (6)

  • AWendy Batts , Fitness, answered on behalf of Sharecare Fitness

    Since everyone is different there is not an exact number of days or a specific amount of time that a person should perform cardio to lose weight. The best methods to successful weight loss include circuit training, interval training and a special training system called zone training. Circuit and Interval training are incredible calorie burners as they force the body to alternate between high and low intensity exercise.  High intensity exercise is beneficial because it burns more calories per minute when compared to lower intensity exercise, allowing you to maximize the effectiveness of your workout while minimizing the time spent exercising. Zone training teaches the body to use fat more effectively as fuel during exercise.  Also, exercising in and out of different heart rate zones challenges the body and increases the amount of energy used both during and after activity- leading to more calories being burned!    If you are new to exercise, create a solid cardio foundation performing steady cardio exercises like walking or biking for up to 30 minutes 4-5 days per week.  Once you can successfully accomplish 30 minutes of low intensity exercise for 5 days per week, it is time to kick it up a notch and incorporate the cardio training methods listed above.  Be sure to consult with your physician prior to beginning an exercise program. 

  • Cardio is only one component of a well rounded fitness program. In order to lose weight you need a combination of cardio training, resistance training and nutrition plan. You lose weight by burning more calories than you consume. Cardio is a great way to burn fat calories, however most people just aimlessly use a treadmill or cycle with no real purpose or goal other than to ride or run for 30 minutes. You will see the best results when you focus more on the quality of your cardio workout instead of the time spent on the treadmill/cycle. Cardio interval training using the 3 heart rates zones will have you burning fat calories while improving your resting heart rate and cardiac output.

    The 3 zones are determined using the formula 220 - age, then that # x work effort
    220 - 47 = 173, 173 x .65 (65% effort) = 112.4 etc. Zone 1 is 65 - 75% MHR (max heart rate), zone 2 = 80 - 85% MHR, zone 3 is 86 - 90% MHR. Using a heart rate monitor, begin in zone 1, keeping your heart rate in that zone by either adding or decreasing the workload. Once you can maintain your zone 1 for 5 days in a row for 30 minutes you are ready to add zone 2 into your routine. You will burn more calories using this type of interval training than just doing cardio for 30 minutes. You burn more calories by pushing your heart up to zone 2, then back to zone 1, then up to zone 3, back to 2 etc.
  • Cardio exercise refers to any activity that places a stress on the cardiovascular system. Activities such as walking, running, swimming, jumping rope and cycling are common forms of cardio activities. However do not forget that activities of daily living can also be included as cardio exercise. Mowing the lawn, working in the garden, dancing, taking the stairs, all contribute to our daily cardio exercise. For weight loss start out slow, especially if you are new to working out. Begin with just 10 to 30 minutes of low intensity exercise three days a week. These sessions can also be split into two or three 10-minute sessions per day. As you become more fit increase the duration until you are able to perform 45 minutes three to four days a week. The next step is then increasing the intensity of your workout. Interval training is a great cardio exercise for losing weight. Alternating between periods of lower intensity exercise and higher intensity exercise is a great way to increase the overall intensity of your workout and help you burn even more calories. When it comes to weight loss cardio is only one component of a successful weight loss plan. Strength training and good nutrition are also essential components. You can work out and do as much exercise as you want but if you are still fueling your body with fast food and other poor nutritional choices you will not lose weight.
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  • Cardio is a great way to help promote health and lose weight. However, weight loss is dependent on calorie consumption in relation to calories burned. This is dictated by the law of thermodynamics. In order for weight to decrease, an individual must burn more calories than they consume. Cardio can help to increase the total caloric burn, but the exact amount of cardio needed is difficult to define. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends each person get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week to maintain heart health. To promote weight loss, this amount and intensity should increase.
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  • I suggest this pretty interesting approach based on research by Dr. Lynn Kravitz from University of New Mexico. She suggests using a culmination of minutes within a week.  I will say 180 to 200 minutes per week (3 hours to 3 hours and 20 minutes), which is a good place to start.  It doesn’t matter what the breakdown is. For example, it can be 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes after work, for a total of 20 minutes for 1 day. If you are doing 180 minutes, subtract 20 minutes, then you still have 160 minutes leftover for the next 6 days. If you get to the 7th day and you only did 80 minutes, you have got a lot of cardio left to do on your last day. So, it is about how many minutes of cardio you do throughout a week. Now, obviously, I am not suggesting save it all up and do 2 hours of cardio on the very last day. However, that may keep you from procrastinating the following week.

    Your intensity should be fairly high, between 75 and 85% of your maximum heart rate. If you are not going by heart rate and aren’t using a heart rate monitor, then you should basically work hard enough that you are breathing too heavily to keep you from having a conversation with your neighbor about who will be the next judge on American Idol or the fate of Lindsay Lohan’s career while you are on a cardio piece of equipment.
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  • ABryan Burnstein , NASM Expert, Fitness, answered

    Before we talk about how much cardio you should do, you should at least know why it's so important. Cardiovascular exercise simply means that you're involved in an activity that raises your heart rate to a specific level to cause a training effect. More on that later. Here's why cardio is so important: It's one way to burn calories and help you lose weight. It makes your heart strong so that it doesn't have to work as hard to pump blood. It increases your lung capacity. It helps reduce risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. It makes you feel good. It helps you sleep better. It helps reduce stress. I could go on all day, but you get the point.

    After you choose what to do, the most important element of your workout will now be how long you do it. You should work on duration before you work on anything else--it's more important to work on continuous exercise than to worry about how fast you're going or how hard you're working. If you're a beginner, start with 10-20 minutes and add more time to each workout until you're up to 30 minutes. The 'official' guidelines say to workout for 30-60 minutes most days of the week, but don't feel like you have to start at that level if you're not ready. Try starting by splitting your workouts into small, manageable workouts throughout the day. Do all those things you know you should be doing: take the stairs, walk more, stop driving around looking for that front row parking space.

    The frequency of your workouts will depend on your fitness level and your schedule. Beginners should start with about 3 non-consecutive days of cardio and work their way up to more frequent sessions. The general guidelines to lose weight are four or more days a week of at least 30 minutes. Keep in mind that doing too much cardio is a no-no as well and can actually backfire. There is a point of diminishing returns, so keep it reasonable, vary your intensity, and don't forget to take rest days when needed.

    Once you've gotten used to exercise and are up to 30 minutes of continuous movement, you can start working on your intensity. How hard you work is a crucial factor in your workout because how hard you work is directly related to how many calories you burn. So how hard should you work? That depends on several factors including your fitness level and your goals.

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How much physical activity do I need to control my weight?