It is easy to want to skimp on the workouts, especially when life gets busy, but cardio exercises are essential for your health. You can easily incorporate a cardio program into your weekly routine, dedicating 30 minutes of your time to a cardio activity five days a week or more.
Combined with a healthy diet (rich in amino acids), cardio training benefits your body and mind. Cardio exercises help you lose weight and reduce the risk of many conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Cardiovascular workouts strengthen your heart and keep your arteries clear. In addition to all these great benefits, cardio boosts your mood and keeps your mind sharp. Studies have found that regular physical activity may help protect memory and cognitive function.
What Are the Best Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss?
Walking is one of the easiest activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine. If you want to burn calories and lose weight, you need to walk at a brisk, moderately-fast pace. According to Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent illnesses, strengthen your muscles, and improve your mood. This cardio activity can help you burn 300 to 400 calories per hour.
- Running Stairs
Chances are you walk up and down the stairs every day to get to your office (and if you’re not, ditch the elevator and start climbing!), but did you know that stairs can help you burn up to 1,000 calories per hour? When you have a chance, look for a staircase near you that has more than one flight—consider walking, running, or lunging up a flight of stairs instead of running around your neighborhood to burn more calories.
Kettlebell is a cannonball-shaped weight that is used in cardio exercises. Kettlebell workouts combine strength training with cardio for a complete workout. According to the American Council on Exercise, kettlebells can provide a higher intensity workout than the usual strength training routine in a shorter amount of time. Try this 10-minute kettlebell workout from Get Healthy U to have an idea of how it works. Kettlebells can help you burn 800 to 900 calories per hour.
- Jumping Rope
Jumping rope is an excellent cardio exercise for weight loss because, in addition to burning 600 calories per hour, it helps build bone density, strengthen your legs, and makes your heart stronger. You’d have to run an 8-minute mile to work off more calories than you can burn jumping rope. Beginners are best off using a beaded rope because it is easier to control than a lightweight cloth or vinyl rope. You will need a 4-by-6-foot area and about 10 inches of space above your head. The exercise surface is also important—use a wood floor or mat made for exercise.
High-Intensity Interval Training comes in many forms, but the goal is the same: high-intensity exercises for a short interval, then a brief recovery, and start again. During HIIT sessions, you should aim to work at 90 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by 0.17. The high-intensity training increases the body’s need for oxygen, causing your system to burn more fat than lower intensity training burns. HIIT can help you burn around 600 calories per hour.
Cycling is an excellent way to strengthen your muscles and burn calories. You can bike outside to get fresh air, but you can also start an indoor cycling class. It is always fun to be in a room full of people who want to be healthy and motivate one another—plus the music will pump you up, and your instructor will help you achieve your goals. You can also buy an exercise bike and do this activity at home while watching your favorite TV show or reading the latest news. Cycling can help you burn 600 calories per hour.
What Are the Best Cardio Machines for Weight Loss?
As previously mentioned, cycling can be done outdoors or indoors—but indoor biking appears to especially benefit older people. According to the Arthritis Foundation, stationary cycling provides a workout that avoids stressing weight-bearing joints and reduces injury potential. Physical therapist Matthew Goodemote at Gloversville, New York’s Community Physical Therapy and Wellness program suggests starting with a five-minute session three times a day and increasing the time by five minutes when the workout becomes comfortable.
- Rowing Machines
Rowing is a full body exercise that works the biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core body. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of a 30-minute workout at a level that makes you sweat but still allows you to carry on a normal conversation. If rowing is your go-to cardio workout, then five days a week of rowing is a good goal. According to Harvard Health Studies, 30 minutes of rowing burns between 250-300 calories.
- Treadmill and Steppers
Treadmill and steppers are excellent replacements for walking or running when the weather is bad. Fast walking on the treadmill—approximately 3.5 miles per hour—burns 276 calories for a person weighing 160 lbs. Steppers provide aerobic activity and, when used as part of a daily cardio program, help burn approximately 446 calories per hour. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using muscle-strengthening activities, such as steppers, as part of a regular exercise cardio program.