How much cardio should you ACTUALLY be doing?
Cardiovascular training is important. But you don’t have to do TONS of separated cardio for your heart health.
We can get lost in the weeds when it comes to fitness recommendations for overall health. There are many different in-depth “cardio” protocols and ways to measure things like heart rate, heart rate variability, lactate levels, the list goes on and on and on. But the intention of today’s post is to make these recommendations understandable and actionable right away. Let’s remove those barriers to entry!!
What is light-moderate intensity cardio?
Light-moderate intensity cardio encompasses activities that lightly elevate your heart rate. You should still be able to have a conversation during this type of activity, but you might find it to be more difficult than usual!
You can also contribute to this moderate rise in heart rate by attempting to breathe in and out through your nose. This should be somewhat challenging!
If you do have a wearable device that measures your heart rate, you can aim to keep your heart rate between 120-130 bpms. This will vary slightly depending on your individual max heart rate, current activity level, etc. But again, we don’t want you to get too lost in the weeds with this. Focus on the subjective measurements more so than getting your heart rate “perfectly” into the correct zone.
Why should you do it?
According to the American Heart Association, consistency with this type of cardiovascular work is associated with:
- “Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimer’s, several types of cancer, and some complications of pregnancy”
- “Better sleep, including improvements in insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea”
- “Improved cognition, including memory, attention and processing speed”
- “Less weight gain, obesity and related chronic health conditions”
- “Better bone health and balance, with less risk of injury from falls”
- “Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety”
- “Better quality of life and sense of overall well-being”
But we want to caution you against using this type of cardio specifically for weight loss. When we center weight loss around exercise (especially cardio) instead of nutrition, we tend to overdo it. Instead of adding in light-moderate intensity cardio in order to lose weight, include it in your routine for all of the other benefits listed above!
How often should you do it?
The most supported recommendation for light-moderate intensity activity is ~150 minutes per week. This type of cardio can be done daily without impeding your muscle growth and recovery!!
We know that this recommendation can sound overwhelming, but let’s break it down!
Evlo classes you can include to put towards your goal
- Low-Impact Cardio Burst (15 minutes)
- EVFLOW (20-30 minutes)
- Recovery Day Cardio (5-15 minutes)
Low-impact cardio burst and recovery day cardio are very similar! Each class coordinates gentle movements to beats to slightly elevate your heart rate. Our recovery day cardio classes tend to be more “dance-y” in nature, but know that you do NOT have to be perfectly coordinated to take either class! Have fun challenging that coordination with these quick and fun classes.
EVFLOW is for the seasoned Evlo member who loves our Flow + Strengthen class. This class starts with a mobility flow, moves through a power yoga sequence, introduces light cardio elements, and ends with mobility and savasana.
You can find these types of classes in our “Cardio” section on the platform here. Click “Light-Moderate Intensity Cardio” in the drop down box to pull up all of your options!!
Non-Evlo activities you can include to put towards your goal
- Brisk walks
- Gentle bike rides
- Light swimming
- Light jogs
- Faster yoga flows
- Stair climbing
One of our favorite ways to get to this 150 minutes of light-moderate intensity cardio is to see how we can incorporate it into the activities that we already do!
For example, picking up the pace of your walking as you shop at the grocery store. Choosing to walk or bike to your next destination. Going for a walk to catch up with friends.
It all counts!! This can really lower the threshold to achieving this goal. When we make a goal achievable, we are able to be more consistent!! And you know how we feel about consistency. It is the secret sauce to success!!
Why are you able to do it daily without it affecting your recovery?
Light-moderate cardio activities typically tap into those smaller, type I muscle fibers. This does not cause as much damage to the muscle tissue and does not require the same type of recovery as hypertrophic training.
This type of cardio can even aid in our recovery from hypertrophic training by improving blood flow and oxygenation to the involved muscle groups. Light-moderate intensity training is the perfect compliment to your strength training!!