How Much Cardio Do You Need, Really?

Cardio. Doesn’t it feel like sometimes you can’t get through a day without hearing the word? There’s a reason this is a constant topic of discussion. Cardio is the key to burning calories, which means it’s the key to losing weight. So how much cardio is enough?

Why You Need It

Thinking about cardio all the time is almost as exhausting as actually doing the cardio exercises. Sometimes, it’s tricky to get super sweaty and exert your body for long periods at a time when you already have so much to do in a typical day, but you do need cardio. Also known as aerobic exercise, cardio decreases your risk for stroke, heart attack and lots of other health problems that you don’t want.

How Much is Enough?

According to the CDC, adults should get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. However, you can bend this rule by dialing up your exercise intensity. If you engage in vigorous exercise, you only need about 75 minutes of exercise per week.

Losing Weight

The CDC’s recommendation is how much exercise you need to stay healthy. This is what an average, fit adult should get on a weekly basis. If you want to lose weight, however, you need to add to the 150 minutes per week. After all, you don’t want to maintain but to re-shape. That requires more time exercising. Cardio helps you get to a higher heart rate, so you’ll burn calories faster.

If you want to lose weight, start with a baseline of 80 minutes of heart pumping cardio a week and increase from there. Ideally, if you are eating healthy, this is enough cardio to burn at least one pound per week.

Crunching the Numbers

To lose one pound a week, which is a healthy rate of weight loss, you need to burn 500 calories more per day than what you eat and drink. Keep in mind that house cleaning, shopping, folding laundry and making the bed all burn some calories. Ordinary tasks, like cooking in the kitchen, burn calories, too. If you lower your daily calorie intake, you can get away with burning fewer calories and still lose weight. Keep in mind that losing weight is a much slower process than putting on weight. If you’re persistent and maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine, you can lose one pound per week or every two weeks.

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