Are there any benefits of low intensity cardio? With the emergence of high intensity cardio and other intense training routines, a low intensity cardio workout is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be. Why have I started doing a lot more low intensity cardio for fat loss then? Because it’s a great way to burn a few extra calories with very little risk of over training or injury. This is an important component of Visual Impact Cardio and was mentioned in my interview with Rusty Moore as a great way to get the lean, Hollywood look.
Low Intensity Cardio vs. High Intensity Cardio
My definition of low intensity cardio is anything from walking to a slow jog. It’s exercise that may require a modest amount of effort but something during which you could probably carry on a conversation. High intensity cardio on the other hand would include sprints or interval training in which you have to focus on catching your breath rather than talking.
High intensity cardio is great for releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream and allows for a significant after-burn effect. Low intensity cardio is great at burning fatty acids that are already in the bloodstream and can be done for hours without a high risk of over training or injury.
Benefits of Low Intensity Cardio
From a health perspective, low intensity cardio like walking has been shown to:
- Lower risk of heart disease or stroke
- Lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol
- Lower risk of breast cancer or type 2 diabetes
- Strengthen bones
- Control joint swelling
If those reasons don’t convince you, another benefit of low intensity cardio is improved emotional health due to lower stress, better sleep, and a better overall mood. Finally, one sizeable advantage that low intensity cardio offers vs. high intensity cardio is that it reduces inflammation since it is a low impact activity.
Low Intensity Cardio for Fat Loss
Generally I perform high intensity cardio since it’s more efficient than low intensity cardio for fat loss. Don’t let the fat burning zone myth fool you…a 20 minute high intensity cardio workout could easily burn just as many calories as a 60 minute low intensity cardio workout. So why would you waste time with low intensity cardio? Because you can only perform so much high intensity cardio without over training.
I think a daily workout that includes 45 minutes of high intensity cardio or another intense routine is more than enough exercise. However, what happens if you want to increase the amount of calories you burn? Unless you’re a professional athlete, you probably can’t do any more high intensity exercise without completely burning out. That’s where low intensity cardio comes into play. Tack on 1-2 hours of low intensity cardio per day and you can probably burn 500+ extra calories. The downside is that you spend more time exercising. If you’re planning on hitting the beach in Bermuda next month like me, the extra time spent doing low intensity cardio might be well worth it.
A Low Intensity Cardio Workout
On of the things I’ve learned from Visual Impact Cardio is that the best time to perform a low intensity cardio workout is after intense exercise. As I mentioned earlier, high intensity cardio releases fatty acids into the bloodstream where they’re primed to be burned through low intensity cardio. So do your normal 30-45 minute high intensity exercise and add on 30-60 minutes of low intensity cardio; you can go as long as you want. It doesn’t have to be complicated either. I do strength training on weekends and then mow the lawn. Some days after performing my HIIT workout, I’ll walk the dog. That’s the great thing about low intensity cardio for fat loss; you just keep your body moving and watch the extra calories melt off. That’s not to understate the other benefits of low intensity cardio either since improving your health should be just as important as fat loss.