Cardio for weight loss is useful when you combine your workouts with a holistic (whole body and whole life) approach to your lifestyle. Weight loss is a complicated process involving so many aspects of your life including; eating a healthy diet, balancing your hormones, addressing any gut issues, lowering inflammation, tuning into yourself, listening to your body, understanding your emotional connection to food, elevating your mindset, practicing an enjoyable stress release technique and fitness routine. These all need addressing daily. Losing weight with ‘a diet’ may work in the short term, but very rarely works long time.
Experimenting with different exercises to discover a cardio workout you love is a worthwhile and useful step in the right direction towards long-term weight loss and optimal wellness. Patience is the key to losing weight. Losing weight might have drawn your attention to read this post, but never forget the incredible health benefits you are giving your body by exercising. Your body is designed to move and thrives with movement. While developing a love for cardio workouts feel all parts of your body move and loosen up. Move to improve your heart and circulation. Tricking and luring your mind into a workout is sometimes half the battle. Maybe, have your weight loss goal as an attractive side effect to your workout.
Health Benefits Of Cardio Workouts
Cardio exercise, as we all know, is an exercise which raises your heart rate. Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. Think of how healthy and active you are making your most important muscle in your body by working out. Cardio workouts also significantly improve:
- Happiness – exercise has been linked to improved mood. Studies show that activity increases your HGH and endorphins which help to improve your mood and self-esteem (1).
- Heart – as we know cardio exercise improves the health of your heart. Research has shown that exercise may even benefit your heart better than some medications (2).
- Goal Achieving & Mindset
- Strength & Circulation
- Self Confidence & Healthy Ageing
Five Cardio Workouts For Losing Weight
Choosing a cardio workout you love is imperative for short and long-term weight loss. There are many cardio workouts which are useful for weight loss including; power walking, jogging, rowing, cycling, rope skipping and stair running. Strength training will give your weight loss goals an extra boost. Here is a list of our five favorite cardio workouts for weight loss.
HIIT, short for high-intensity interval training is cardiovascular exercise with short alternating periods of intense activity. HIIT workouts started to trend in 2010, and they are still trending. It provides a significant reduction of fat mass. Studies suggest that by working out for a shorter amount of time but injecting short bursts of vigorous activity will speed up your weight loss and give you a fitter, firmer body (3). Try cardio exercise for 12 seconds within your comfort range of effort and alternate with 8 seconds of high-intensity cardio pushing yourself to your maximum exertion. You burn more calories during exercise, and you will also burn more calories after your workout. Studies suggest that these short bursts of high intensity may also increase your adrenaline hormone which helps to burn fat specifically on your belly.
Doing cardio HIIT workouts three days a week on non-consecutive days should give you effective weight loss (assuming the other lifestyle factors are considered too). Studies tell us that due to the afterburn effect, enjoying a shorter HIIT cardio workout three times per week compared to more extended regular exercise throughout the week showed significantly better reductions in total body fat. Specifically, 20 minutes of cardio workout with high-intensity intervals compared to 40 minutes of steady cardio did the trick. Some say you may continue to burn calories for up to two hours after your workout.
Whether on the beach, road, cross country, track or treadmill, running is fantastic for weight loss. Running with bursts of HIIT burns fat during and after your workout so effectively. Burning fat after your workout is known as the afterburn. Your body does this after HIIT training and also running with intervals of sprinting. Running on an incline rather than on the flat burns more calories by as much as 50%. Incline running increases your heart rate quicker. During your 30 minutes running workout, run on a flat surface and try incline running every 5 – 10 minutes. Develop effective breathing exercises while you move.
3. High-Intensity Walking
If you have bad knees, back or you prefer walking, we suggest adding high intensity walks with bursts of pace and incline to burn more fat during and after your workout. Try walking for 30 minutes. Walk at your comfortable walk for a 5 minute warm up. Increase your speed and walk fast for 20 minutes. Slow down for the last five mins for your cool down. Try to walk more quickly and steeper with every walk. While walking, focus on drawing your abdominals in towards your spine. Without holding your breath hold your abdominals in for your entire hike. Focus on your breathing, lifting your torso up to increase lung space, relax your shoulders back. Inhale revitalising energy and exhale tiredness and negative thoughts. Use your cardio workouts as a form of meditation.
Add some gradual inclines or hills to tone your leg and back muscles. Walking uphill activates 25% more of your muscles than walking flat. Find a hilly walking route or if on a treadmill try the same running routine as mentioned above. Walk for 10 minutes on the flat then 10 minutes in the incline. Repeat these 10-minute change in terrain for 30 – 40 minutes for a minimum of 4 times a week, ideally every day of the week for optimal weight loss goals.
An hour of daily brisk walking is fantastic for boosting your metabolism and stress reduction. We love indulging in a 30-minute power walking workout before we hit the office and another 30-minute power workout after we leave the office. Fantastic for loosening up the hips and hamstrings, relaxing any tension and reversing the detrimental effects of sitting at a desk all day. An excellent thirty-minute vinyasa yoga session at lunchtime is always an added treat.
Although you may consider walking an inferior workout for weight loss, walking becomes effective because of its stress reduction benefits. Walking prevents overtraining. Overtraining is stressful for your body and causes your body to produce cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone which has been shown to contribute to storing fat around your belly. Walking workouts help you unwind, lower your levels of cortisol and keep your belly fat under control. Compared to running on an empty stomach, which burns stored carbohydrates first, walking on an empty stomach before breakfast burns stored fat.
4. Vinyasa Yoga
Vinyasa yoga is a strength and cardio workout. It is a flowing and dynamic sequence of yoga poses usually synchronised with the breath. Popular styles of yoga such as power, flow, Jivamukti, Anusara, hot vinyasa and prana flow are all types of vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa yoga is fast paced and builds internal heat. As it is strength-building, it helps to improve your cardiovascular system, respiratory system and the density of your bones. As with all styles of yoga, your sleep will be deeper and your stress reduced. Quality sleep and low levels of stress are essential for weight loss. Yoga’s incredible benefits for stress reduction are so crucial for weight loss because yoga reduces cortisol levels. High cortisol levels increase fat found on your hips and waist (4).
The flowing style of vinyasa is a form as cardio as it will build heat, sometimes sweat and get your heart pumping. It will not, however, burn the same amount of calories as your HIIT or running workout. Although, one study found that yoga practiced for at least one hour every day compared to seven hours of cardio per week found that yogis performed better in some cardio-respiratory parameters compared to the traditional cardio exercises, despite the lower-intensity of yoga. Yoga also helps indirectly with weight loss by lowering stress, improving sleep and developing a broad sense of mindfulness. Mindfulness is an essential component of weight loss. We have been practicing yoga and meditation for years with the increasingly popular online app Yogaglo (5). Thousands of classes, at all levels, unlimited and free for your first 15 days.
Swimming is a favorite cardio workout because it works your entire body, burns calories and is fantastic for weight loss and your cardiovascular system. Working all your essential muscles without stressful impact on your joints makes swimming as popular as walking for many. Your heart and lungs will work hard, your resting heart rate will decrease, and your blood pressure should lower. As swimming is an all over body cardio workout, you will be giving yourself a body shaping session by burning calories and toning your muscles.
Water is useful for body shaping because water is nearly 800 times denser than air. Each movement and stroke you make in the water is like a resistant workout for every muscle in your body, especially your glutes, shoulders, hips, arms and core. Your metabolism will be pumping helping you burn more calories after your swim. Swimming is a beautiful time to meditate. Once we sink our head under the water to start our workout, we feel stress float off our shoulders. While in the water we find the therapeutic effect of being alone to process thoughts and release any negativity.
Mix Up Your Workout
Inside the 131 Method, we teach about the importance of diet phasing but you can also phasing your exercise. Try mixing your workout up by using a kickboard for a few laps and try different strokes. Start out by swimming for thirty to sixty minutes four to six times a week, ideally on nonconsecutive days. Split your thirty-minute workout into five-minute sections. Warm up by swimming for five minutes at a comfortable pace. At the end of your workout swim at a relaxed pace for five minutes. For the twenty minutes in between trying high-intensity interval training by swimming every fifth lap as fast as you can throughout the twenty minutes. Change your stroke every five minutes between breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle. Freestyle burns the most calories of all swimming strokes. Backstroke improves your posture. Breaststroke is excellent for toning your hips and inner thigh muscles.
You might also like to try swimming for thirty seconds followed by a thirty-second rest. As you become fitter, reduce your resting time. Maintain correct swim technique and form. Sprint for three laps followed by one lap at a reasonable pace. Integrate a few laps with your kickboard, weighted training swim gloves, ankle and or wrist weights or hand paddles.
Love Moving Your Body
All five of these workouts are excellent cardio for weight loss. With all five exercises to achieve optimal weight loss results try to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Get that sweat happening and go for the big afterburner. Above everything else enjoy your journey towards optimal fitness and achieving your ideal weight. Mix up your cardio workouts. Indulge your body with daily movement. Choose an exercise which you enjoy. We challenge you to give all five workouts a try for at least a week each. You might be pleasantly surprised how much you love them all.