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What intensity should I use while doing cardio?

The intensity performed during cardiorespiratory training varies based on an individual's current level of conditioning and program goals. The goal intensity level of the cardio exercise should be calculated from an individual’s estimated maximum heart rate and divided into three zones. To determine cardiovascular efficiency and decide in which cardio zone to begin training, an assessment called the three-minute step test can be used. This test is designed to measure how quickly the heart rate can return to resting heart rate after performing activity. Cardio training zone one is 65%-75% of a person's estimated maximum heart rate. This is typically used by someone who is just beginning a cardio program and needs to build the body’s ability to improve blood flow to the muscles. This blood flow will help deliver oxygen and nutrients and remove waste which is produced by the working muscles. Zone two is 80%-85% of an individual's estimated maximum heart rate. This zone is designed for someone to progress to after zone one, or for an individual who is beginning a program and already has good cardiovascular efficiency. Zone three is 86%-90% of a person's estimated maximum heart rate. This zone is a high-intensity workout which cannot be sustained for long periods of time. Due to the intensity of this zone, it should be used in conjunction with zones one and two. Spending too much time in this zone can lead to overtraining.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.