We all lead busy lives. We spend a good deal of our waking hours trying to climb the corporate ladder, looking after our families, tending to our partner’s needs and wants, hanging out with our friends, etc. Where on earth do we even have the time to squeeze out a few sessions of cardio to shed those unsightly love handles? Then again how much cardio do you really need to lose weight.
Dieting in the kitchen is easy. We just have to watch what we eat. But to garner enough will power after work for some cardio when there’s still 10 things not done on your ‘To-Do-List’ can prove to be rather challenging.
Here’s a little disclaimer before I go more in depth into this article. I am very lazy when it comes to doing cardio. I do what is needed to supplement my diet. I don’t lug around instruments measuring what’s my heartbeat, perspiration rate or the number of times I farted during my run (which can be pretty high by the way).
In other words, I do it what it takes to keep my sessions simple and easy to monitor.
So that brings us back to our main question. How many times a week do you need to bust your arse on that thread mill just to see results? Well that will have to depend on a few important factors
1. How fit are you?
When was the last time you actually did something physically demanding on your cardiovascular system? By the way these few activities do not count
- a) Channel surfing
- b) Playing with your hamster
- c) Sitting and getting up from the toilet bowl
I’m talking about sweating it out on a jog or playing some sports?
2. How many calories do you tend to cut from your cardio sessions?
If you are pretty strict with your diet then chances are you don’t have to add in that many sessions of cardio to create a deficit.
For someone like me whose mouth itches for an unhealthy snack far too many times than needed, you’ll need more sessions.
3. How much time can you realistically devote to cardio per week
As I’ve mentioned from the start, we are busy people. I wouldn’t expect a mom working 2 jobs trying to support her family of 5 to put in the same number of cardio hours as a college student. So be honest with yourself.
My take on it: If you are someone of reasonable fitness level, who eats relatively healthily and leads a normal 9-5 kind of corporate life, you should be able to get in at least 3 sessions per week.
What Kind Of Cardio Exercises Can You Do?
Low impact cardio
I would normally recommend such cardio activities for the elderly, people with some physical disability or really really unfit individuals. Such activities can come in the form of walking, light swimming or a very light jog. Enough for you to break out into a light sweat and have an engaging conversation about anything under the sun with someone.
High impact cardio
This is the form of cardio that I would expect most of us to be doing. Any form of exercise that makes you sweat like like you’re inches from the sun and gets your heart beating fast enough over a period of time to feel it pounding through your chest. You wouldn’t even have the energy to make small talk once you’re done. This will include activities like fast paced jogging, spring intervals (HIT), high repetition circuit training.
Doing different sports can help get rid of the doldrums of doing the same cardio activity week in week out. This helps to keep things fresh. However playing sports does not give you excuse of dropping the intensity if you can take it. Don’t play like some airy fairy, go all out and chase the darn ball.
My take on it: I juggle tennis and fast pace jogging about 3 times a week. Mostly it’s 2 times jogging and a session of tennis with my good friends over the weekend. I get to burn calories and catch up with my buddies at the same time.
When Is It A Good Time To Do Cardio
Honestly, I think anytime is a good time. As long as you can squeeze out that 30-45mins, time of day should not matter.
There are experts who claim that doing your cardio before breakfast on an empty stomach helps to burn fat more efficiently. To get all rocket scientist on you it’s because upon waking up the glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted hence the body will utilize uour fat stores as energy. I for one ain’t and never will be a morning person. Asking me to do cardio that early in the morning? I rather you pull my toenails out while I catch another 40 winks.
There are some exceptions to the rule though and especially so if you are throwing weight training in the equation. A good cardio session prior to lifting can be a good warm up. However if your cardio is too intense, you might not have much energy left to go heavy.
Doing cardio after your weights is something I would prefer. I will just use up whatever energy I have left for my cardio. I try not to do my cardio on days when I have to do my squats or dead lifts. I can barely stand after that. So choose to do cardio on days where you know you can still squeeze out some intense cardio after your weights. Oh yes, don’t forgot to grab a light post workout snack before hitting the thread mill.
The Importance Of Cardio Besides Weight Loss
Ok, so you are one of those few that belong to the genetically gifted group of people that can lose weight overnight by flexing their butt cheeks in their sleep. Therefore you never had to do cardio at all to maintain your physique. Well, you are missing out on many benefits that cardio does for your body.
Just to name a few :
- a) Makes you feel a whole lot better
- b) Improve your mood and reduce risk of depression. (Exercising releases endorphins by the way)
- c) Strengthens your heart
- d) Works out your brain as well
I can go on and on but you get my drift. The numerous health benefits that you can reap from doing cardio makes it too important an activity to ignore.
Time To Get Cracking
So to recap, we are looking for at least 3 cardio sessions per week. Each session should last between 30-45mins done at a high level of intensity. The first few weeks might seem like torture at first. When it’s so much easier to just change out and flop in front of the TV or game console after a hard day at work. Push on past this initial resistance and you’ll reach a point where it feels weird not doing cardio.
As the saying goes ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way”