Cardio or cardiovascular exercise, bumps up your heart and breathing rates, and helps burn calories. Whether you’re doing a low-intensity leisurely walk or a grueling interval session on the StairMaster, any cardio can help you lose weight if you’re controlling your calories.
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The most effective form of cardio for weight loss is high-intensity cardio in a fasted state (take 10-20g of whey or 6 grams of BCAAs before). Also consider performing HIIT in combination with regular endurance cardio exercise.
Climbing stairs is one of the best exercises for burning fat, strengthening the lower body, and toning the abs. It also helps you improve your heart and lung health and increases your overall endurance.
Stair climbing is a low-impact exercise that can burn just as many calories as running and puts less stress on your joints. Studies show that stair climbing can help increase the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in your blood and improve your blood circulation.
Stair climbing also strengthens your muscles and improves balance, agility, and coordination. To prevent tight calves and hip flexors, try rolling a foam roller over these muscles before your workout and remember to stretch afterward. To make your workout more challenging, try using a weighted vest or holding light dumbbells in your hands for added resistance.
Running is a great cardiovascular workout that helps build strength and lean muscle in the legs, core, and upper body. It is also one of the best exercises for burning fat.
Jogging is a low to moderate-intensity workout that generally involves a slower pace and can last for a long period of time. It trains the aerobic energy system and builds stamina and endurance.
While all cardio exercises burn calories, the best type of exercise for weight loss is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which combines short bursts of intense activity with brief periods of rest. HIIT can burn up to 520 calories per hour for the average 155-pound person. It also has been linked to a lower risk of chronic disease and increased lifespan.
Cycling is a low impact exercise, and it burns calories at a steady pace. It also builds muscle, and unlike running it doesn’t put too much strain on your knees or other joints.
A steady, moderate pace of cycling will burn about 300 calories per hour. However, you can up the calorie burn by riding faster and increasing your intensity.
Some people enjoy alternating cardio workouts, hopping on the bike one day and heading to the gym for lifting weights the next. This type of cross training helps prevent boredom and gives you a variety of fitness benefits.
Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can still raise your heart rate and burn calories. Like running, it tones muscles in the upper and lower body. Plus, it can help you build endurance and develop greater leg strength if you train regularly.
Like other cardio exercises, it helps you achieve a healthy weight by creating a caloric deficit. And it may also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood pressure, blood fat levels and stiffness of the carotid arteries, according to one study.
You need to know how to swim well to get the most benefit, but even a novice swimmer can achieve good fitness results in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity swimming. As with all workouts, you should plan to eat within 15 to 30 minutes of your swim to fuel your body.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
In addition to helping you lose weight, HIIT workouts also help you strengthen your heart and improve oxygen consumption. They can even reduce your body fat, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
HIIT can be done in the gym using cardio equipment like treadmills and rowers, or outdoors on a bike or stair-climber. Running is one of the most common HIIT exercises, but it can be hard on your joints and can interfere with strength training.
HIIT is very time-efficient and burns more calories than steady-state cardio. It also leads to an afterburn effect, where your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate for hours after you finish your workout. HIIT workouts can also be completed at home using a DVD or on an elliptical machine.