First Question: What is Your End Game Goal?
If your desired result is to:
- Burn fat
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Reduce the risk of adverse health effects
…then read on. If you’re training for a specific event, this is not the article for you, my friend. You will likely need to push yourself harder and longer than what’s needed to “get fit” or “in shape.”
Second Question: How Hard Do I need to Work Out?
A good place to start is with the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendation of 150 minutes of “moderate” intensity (or effort) cardio per week.
The recommendation is based off of the myriad of health benefits that are observed at maintaining this intensity for 150 minutes.
Next Question: “What does “Moderate” Intensity Exercise Mean?
Good Question! I’m glad you asked. Simply put, “Moderate” intensity or effort falls at about a 4 on a 1 – 10 point “perceived exertion scale.”
Working out at moderate intensity you should:
- Still be able to hold a conversation comfortably without labored breathing
- Not be sweating a lot
- Heart rate should be between 100 and 120ish
Next Question: Do I have to work out for 150 minutes per week?
No. You don’t, actually! The USDHHS recommends this amount because it’s more comfortable, desirable, or doable than the alternative for most.
The alternative is to workout HARDER or at a higher intensity of “vigorous” which would be rated at 7 – 10 on the 10 point effort scale for 75 minutes.
Working out at “Vigorous” or “high intensity” you should:
- Break a sweat
- Have difficulty holding a conversation
- Have increased heart rate over 130
Ultimately, if you’re willing to work harder, you can reduce the amount of time spent doing cardio.
High Intensity for Busy People
Working out at high intensities such as with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can be attractive to busy, on-the-go people because they can achieve the same health benefits in a fraction of the time.
For Example: It may be easier to squeeze in 3 – 25 minute high intensity interval training sessions over 3 – 50 minute moderate intensity treadmill sessions. You could fit in a high intensity workout over a lunch break for sure.
Recommended Amount of Cardio
When it comes to burning fat, improving stress, anxiety, and depression, and reducing the risk of other adverse health effects like heart disease, metabolic disorder, and many different forms of cancer, all the cardio exercise you need is:
- 150 moderate intensity per week
- -OR- 75 minutes high intensity per week
- -OR- between 75 and 150 minutes with a combination of intensity
Something is Better than Nothing
Regardless of the amount of cardio you get, remember that some exercise is better than none at all. So take that flight of stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the jack-asses trying to get the front parking spot, and take the dog for a walk instead of just letting him about the back door. The more exercise you get, the more benefits. You got this!
Cheers to your health, Friends!