Cardio. You either love it or straight up hate it! But it’s just one of those necessary things for losing weight and getting fit.
Or is it?
For decades cardio was thought to be THE best type of exercise. Ya know, for health, for weight loss, for happiness.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You can get fit, lose weight, and be happy and never do “cardio” again.
I’ll explain why but first, let’s discuss what cardio actually is and why so many people think you HAVE to do it to lose weight and be healthy.
Types of Cardio: Aerobic vs Anaerobic
When it comes to cardio you might think of running, swimming, aerobics class, spin class, maybe even a dance class. But did you know there are two types of cardio?
Aerobic cardio is your typical steady pace cardio. Think of a long distance walk, jog, bike or swim. Aerobic exercise requires oxygen to fuel. Generally speaking, aerobic activities primarily burn fat as fuel.
Anaerobic training is your high paced, short bursts of movement that you can’t sustain for long periods of time. Think sprints or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of cardio primarily burns ATP stored as glycogen in your muscles as fuel.
So Which Is Better for Weight Loss?
Honestly, both can be beneficial for weight loss.
Aerobic activity primarily burns fat as fuel, which is an obviously good thing.
The drawbacks? It requires a lot of time and can be boring for some people.
Anaerobic activity burns glucose rather than fat during the workout, BUT it burns more calories overall.
This is because it takes your body longer to recover from sprints or HIIT than slower steady pace workout.
Basically, the harder your workout is, even if its only 20 minutes, the longer your body takes to recover afterward which translates to greater calorie burn after.
Think of it as a car engine getting really really hot. The hotter it gets the longer it would take to cool off, right?
The negative with anaerobic exercise is that it’s very hard on your body. It’s similar to strength training in the fact that it breaks down muscle and requires resting days for your body to recover properly. If you don’t give your body the rest it needs, then you’re prone to injury and you’ll actually slow down weight loss.
The Best Cardio for Weight Loss?
So what type of cardio should you do for weight loss?
The answer is any type of cardio or exercise is best for weight loss.
Why? Because when it comes to exercise and weight loss, it’s all about consistency and creating a calorie deficit.
As long as your moving often (at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous) and eating less than you burn, you’ll lose weight.
The best type of cardio for weight loss is the type that you enjoy and that you’ll stick with. Moving your body often will train your body to burn fat more often, so being consistent is really what matters.
Enjoy swimming? Do that. Love lifting weights? Great, keep it up! Enjoy walks with your family? Please, PLEASE do more of that!
The goal with exercise is just to move and to enjoy it. So find what you enjoy and just stay consistent with it!
For me personally, I LOVE lifting weights, walking, running, hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. I don’t stress too much about it and I look forward to moving every day!
I’ve found that my body looks and feels best when I’m doing exercises I enjoy while still getting enough recovery time. I don’t and workout hours and hours every day. I did that for years and guess what? I carried more fat and extra weight working out for hours every day then I do now working out about 30-45 minutes a day.
Wrapping it Up
If you have specific goals then sure, your exercise will need to reflect that. But if the overall goal is to lose weight and get healthy then the best cardio for weight loss is the one you enjoy and will do often!
Your body CRAVES movement so do get off your hiney and move!
If you’re not sure where to start, I’d suggest starting with resistance training rather than cardio. This will help you build or maintain lean muscle and you’ll burn lot’s of calories too. If you need some ideas, check out my Instagram for simple strength training videos you can do just about anywhere!