When you hear the word cardio, do you think of sweat dripping off your forehead while running on the treadmill or taking a brisk walk on your lunch break? It’s both. Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, means that you’re doing an activity “with oxygen.”
This type of exercise:
- uses large muscle groups, such as your legs or upper body
- requires respiration or controlled breathing
- increases your heart rate and keeps it in an aerobic zone for a set amount of time
Common forms of cardio include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and fitness classes. Cardio machines may include a rower, elliptical, stair climber, upright or recumbent bike, and treadmill.
While cardio does burn calories and helps aid in weight loss, combining it with at least two to three days a week of strength training workouts can increase the rate at which you lose weight.
The amount of cardio you need to lose weight depends on various factors like your current weight, diet, daily activity level, and age.
To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. The number of calories you consume needs to be less than the amount of calories you burn. How much weight you lose depends on the amount of exercise you’re willing to perform over the course of a week.
If you’re not sure how to create a deficit or you need help meeting your goals, consider using a calorie counting app. These trackers allow you to input your daily food intake and physical activity throughout the day, which enables you to check your current calories in/calories out equation.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesTrusted Source, you should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week to see substantial changes.
You should also perform strength-training activities that involve all major muscle groups at least two days each week.
If you want to lose one pound each week, you need to create a 3,500-calorie deficit, which means you need to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume in one week.
Before you embark on a weight loss journey using cardio exercise, it’s important to understand that there are certain factors that affect how quickly you burn calories, and consequently, how fast you lose weight.
- Age. The older you are, the fewer calories you can expect to burn.
- Body composition. If you have a greater amount of muscle mass, you’ll burn more calories during exercise than someone who has a higher percentage of fat.
- Intensity of workout. The more vigorous the workout, the more calories you’ll burn in one session.
- Gender. Men burn calories faster than women.
- Overall daily activity. The more sedentary you are during the day, the fewer overall calories you’ll burn.
- Weight. The greater your weight, the more calories you’ll burn.