The Best Types of Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss
Cardio exercise (scientifically known as aerobic exercise) is essential if you want to burn calories and fat to lose weight. But it is beneficial for far more than just weight loss.
The term “aerobic” means “with oxygen.” During cardiovascular exercise, you breathe faster and more deeply, which increases heart rate and maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. In a nutshell, cardio exercise helps your body use oxygen more efficiently. This is why, after regular cardio exercise, you experience improved endurance and don’t get short of breath as quickly.
Other benefits of cardio exercise include:
- Boosting your mood
- Improving sleep
- Reducing arthritis pain and stiffness
- Preventing or managing high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes
- Controlled appetite
- Strengthening heart and muscles
- Reduced risk of some cancers
- Lower body fat percentage
- Relieving stress
Cardio exercise requires movement of large muscle groups in your body. Common examples include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, hiking, dancing and water aerobics. Generally, any form of activity that increases your heart rate over the duration of the activity would classify as a cardio workout. But what is the best cardio workout for weight loss?
Intensity is the key to fat-burning exercises. The higher the intensity of the workout, the more calories you burn while maintaining (or even gaining) muscle mass. Here are five exercises to incorporate into your weight loss cardio workout plan:
- Sprinting. Running sprints, whether outside or on a treadmill, is a simple way to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Jogging and steady-state running will burn calories as well, but pick up the speed and sprint if you want to increase intensity and fat burn. To burn fat sprinting, try sprinting for 20 to 30 seconds, then jogging for a minute, then repeat.
- High Intensity Interval Training. Also known as HIIT, high intensity interval training can burn anywhere from 500 to 1500 calories per hour, depending on the intensity level of each exercise. The key to HIIT is performing short bursts of high intensity exercises followed by a quick rest period and then repeating. Bodyweight exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups, high knees and squats are all great exercises to incorporate into a HIIT workout.
- Rowing. Rowing is a full body workout that’s easy on the joints and ligaments. Keeping a moderate pace on the rowing machine can burn as many as 800 calories per hour. Increase intensity with short bursts, or sprints, and the calorie burn quickly adds up. Be sure you’re using proper form when rowing. If you’ve never been on a rowing machine, ask a trainer to demonstrate. Many people mistake rowing as an arm workout, but the key is to use your legs to start the motion, follow it with your back/torso and end the stroke with your arms. After a good warm up, try sprinting 250 meters, followed by a one minute rest. Repeat for 20 minutes.
- Swimming. Working out in water is another excellent choice if you want to be mindful of your joints. Swimming melts away fat while working your whole body. Start your swimming workout by simply treading water. Then swim a few laps. Follow with a water-treading interval and repeat. If you’re a strong swimmer, increase speed to increase intensity.
- Cycling. Whether you’re on a stationary bike inside or riding outdoors, a vigorous cycling workout can burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories per hour. Riding intervals on a stationary bike will help you maximize calorie burn in a short amount of time. Maintain a high level of intensity for a couple of minutes, followed by a minute of recovery. Repeat the intervals as many times as you can.
Ultimately, there is no magic workout to help you lose weight quickly. Weight loss will happen when you are consistent with your exercise program as well as maintaining healthy nutrition. If you’ve hit a plateau, changing up your fitness routine, adding in strength training or increasing intensity of your workouts will help restart your weight loss.
If you’re ready to begin a new, healthier lifestyle and lose the weight for good, contact your First Baptist Medical Center weight loss doctor today.