- For health benefits: Thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous cardio, three days a week
- For weight loss: Working up to 60-90 minutes of activity several days a week
What the guidelines don't explain in detail is how to set up a routine that incorporates a variety of workout intensities, activities and durations. If you only do slow workouts (or staying in your 'fat burning zone'), you not only risk boredom, you may experience slower weight loss. Working harder forces your body to adapt by building more stamina, all the while burning more calories. On the other hand, too many high intensity workouts can lead to burnout, overtraining or even injuries.
The key to a well-rounded cardio program is to include all levels of intensity each week - low, moderate and high, or even a combination of all three.
How to Set Up Your Weekly Cardio Program
When mapping out your weekly cardio workouts, consider including: low-moderate intensity workouts - This is between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, or a Level 4-5 on the perceived exertion chart. You should be able to talk easily. Examples:
- A slow bike ride
- Taking a walk
- A leisurely swim
- Brisk walking
- Step aerobics, Zumba or other types of aerobics
- Light jogging
- Jump roping
- High intensity interval training
Building Your Routine
Below is a chart detailing a sample week of cardio workouts for a person who exercises six days a week. This is simply an example of how to incorporate different types of cardio workouts into a typical week. Modify the workouts according to your own fitness level, time constraints and preferences.
|Mon||HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)||20-30 min||Sprint Interval Workout|
|Tues||Moderate Intensity||45-60 min||Brisk Walking or jogging|
|Wed||Low-Moderate Intensity||All day||Use a pedometer and try to get 10,000 steps|
|Thurs||Moderate-High Intensity||30-60 min||45-Minute Treadmill Workout|
|Fri||Moderate Intensity||30-45 min||Cardio Endurance Intervals|
|Sat||Low-Moderate Intensity||30-60 min||Walking or a long bike ride|
Don't forget to: