Cardio workouts can aid in heart health, endurance, and weight loss. Unlike what you may see on tv, your cardio workout does not need to leave you huffing and puffing or feeling like you are going to die (sorry Jillian Michaels!). We do need to find a cardio workout that we enjoy and can do a few days a week for good health though.
The American Heart Associations suggests that adults under the age of 65 should perform 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, several times each week for heart health, and 60 to 90 minutes each week for weight loss.- Source
Luckily, there are lots of ways to get in your 20 to 90 minutes of cardio (based on your goals). First off, we need to talk heart rate.
Cardio workouts are defined as “aerobic exercise is physical exercise that intends to improve the oxygen system.” The reason aerobic exercises improve your oxygen system is because you are making your body and heart work and get stronger every workout.
Since we are working out our heart basically, it’s important to talk about heart rate during your cardio workouts.
Heart Rate Zone for Cardio Workouts
To find your target zone, we will use Livestrong’s guide:
Maximum heart rate: Take 88 percent of your age from 206 if you are a female.
Best Heart Rate Zone for Cardio Workouts: Multiply your maximum heart rate by .70 and .80 to learn where you should keep your heart rate during aerobic exercise.
The maximum heart rate is the number where you need to stop. You’ll be huffing and puffing and feeling like your heart is going to explode. That’s your 10 on your exertion level. ;) Stop there.
The range is where we want to stay most of the time especially for traditional cardio.
What’s the Difference Between Traditional Cardio Workouts and HIIT Workouts?
Traditional cardio is what most people are used to seeing when you think cardio. It would be walking, running, or cycling at a steady pace. You burn calories at a steady rate. They can help with your endurance if you are a runner.
If you are trying to lose weight AND gain lean muscle or are over 40 traditional cardio workouts may not suit you the best though.
As we age, we need to focus on short, effective cardio workouts to help us maintain our muscle mass. It has nothing to do with being bulky. Think about how firm a 20 year old’s body is compared to a 70 year old’s body. It’s because the 20 year old has more muscle! We need to hang onto it for as long as possible.
Plus, if you are trying to lose weight — muscle burns calories faster than fat cells. So we need to keep as much muscle as we can in the body in order to keep burning calories even at a resting state.
A high intensity interval (HIIT) Workout can be defined as:
A specialized form of interval training that involves short intervals of maximum intensity exercise separated by longer intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise. — Sparkpeople.com
With a HIIT workout, you reach close to your maximum heart rate for a very short period of time (usually a minute) then you recover by lightly walking and bringing your heart rate down. Working this hard puts you at the “anaerobic” state. Yes, my ponytail is all over the place and my face is BEET RED during these, but if you can do even 15 to 30 minutes of a HIIT workout you’re done for the whole day!
You are burning fat and calories faster with a HIIT workout plus working at the anaerobic state helps us shed that stupid, stubbon belly fat faster.
My favorite cardio workouts are:
Dancing: TurboFire has a mix of traditional and HIIT workouts
Intervals: T25 has you working at the higher range of your aerobic heart rate, and it’s only 25 minutes.
Getting Cardio in with a Strength Workout: Pump has you doing hunfreds of reps in a workout, and it will help you not only tone your whole body but also keep your heart rate up for a cardio effect.