Cardio is perhaps one of the most popular versions of exercise and everyone can participate in this form of exercise with barely any expense. Running, swimming, and biking are some of the many aerobic exercises one can participate in, however, the question is, how long should one be doing cardio? Are 20 minutes enough?
20 minutes of cardio daily is enough to lose weight. It will help burn more calories through low to moderate intensity. Cardio may also help increase muscle growth and even mental health but these health benefits will also vary based on cardio length and intensity.
Let’s now explore why 20 minutes of cardio is sufficient for our weight loss and hope to explore other benefits. Cardio may be challenging to begin, but we also hope to help you start by understanding the fundamentals of cardio and what it takes.
What is Cardio
Before we proceed to why 20 minutes of cardio is worth weight loss, let’s briefly explain what cardio is.
Cardio is simply any cardiovascular exercise and also can be known as any kind of aerobic exercise. Cardio involves the use and regulation of oxygen throughout the entire exercise. With cardio, its primary focus is on endurance, however, other aspects such as some muscle growth and overall mental health can be involved as well.
One of the major benefits of cardio, in general, is weight loss. Nearly everyone who participates in any kind of cardio has the goal of either reducing weight or maintaining a certain weight gain. This can only happen if the 20 minutes we are spending doing cardio burns more calories than what we consume.
The consensus is that 20 minutes of daily cardio is a perfect amount of time to burn just enough weight to allow one to become lighter, healthier, and sustain mental health. If one wants to burn more than usual, options are either increasing the intensity of the cardio through longer duration or adding some resistance such as a weighted vest.
It is important to also note, that though we said that 20 minutes of daily cardio is fine, you need to consider a reasonable number of breaks between the cardio and also to make sure you are eating healthy in order to maximize cardio benefits. Not doing so hinders progression and everything you train for is voided. Enough rest for your body and getting the proper nutrients is what will make cardio worth it in the end.
When to Do Cardio
Perhaps the best time to engage in any sort of cardio exercise is in the morning before you do anything else. As long as you get enough fluids in your body and eat a healthy meal the night before, you should be in good shape. Participating in cardio in the morning promotes weight loss and enhanced metabolism if well-conditioned.
All other times of the day are useful too, but not optimal. In reality, any time of the day when you are highly energized and motivated may be just as good as the morning itself. The downside of this is, again, not losing as much weight compared to the morning routine.
When incorporating cardio into a weightlifting day, it is best to engage in cardio immediately after weightlifting. This continues to promote recovery time between the exercises and maximize its benefits. it is also important to realize that if you are not going for raw strength, cardio afterward balances both muscle strength and endurance.
Pure muscle strength does not suggest cardio. It is also highly noted that unless you are training in cardiovascular fitness, doing cardio before any weightlifting activity is not recommended. Either do it immediately after or dedicate a separate day as an entire cardio session.
Types of Cardio
Cardio is, again, any exercise that requires an ongoing regulation of oxygen throughout the duration of the exercise. What are some examples of cardio? I will address three main ones and some honorable mentions.
Running is one that people think of cardio the most. It is easy to get into and requires minimal equipment. Good running shorts and shoes are all you need. You may want to add other stuff like a hat or sweatband, earbuds with a device to play music or sound to keep one motivated and busy, and a shirt or tank top to wick off sweat from the torso.
Biking is another form of cardio that when done requires some money to be sacrificed to effectively gain the benefits from biking. Most of the cost to get cardio from this is the bike itself. The bike is the primary source of cardio through peddling and traversing along various terrains, both up and downhill, as well as adjusting the torque for intensified exercise.
Lastly, swimming is an overall excellent body workout that requires strength and endurance. Access to a pool, lake, or ocean is all that is needed. Whether it is an actual swimming outfit, or an alternative will do. Maintaining water intake is just as important as regulating one’s own oxygen. Swimming is challenging in that you are literally being pushed against water from all directions and cramps are common if not trained to swim for longer durations.
For some other cardio methods, hiking, jump roping, and gymnastics are other forms of cardio that are just as beneficial as the three primary ones mentioned.
According to research, it is recommended to participate for at least 150 minutes per week. This can be dedicating 50 minutes, three times a week of moderate to intense exercise to reach that goal. Another could be that daily 20 minutes of cardio which, if successful, fulfills 140 minutes out of the 150-minute recommendation. There are plenty of variations to fulfill this requirement and anyone can adjust based on their daily hassles.
Honestly, 150 minutes per week is doable for most individuals, but as with everything else, exercising must be done in moderation and within the individual’s skill level. Adjust your frequency of cardio if the situation calls for it and never ignore abnormalities. This ties in perfectly with our final segment: cardio safety.
To conclude this article, let’s briefly address some safety precautions for those engaging in cardio in general. Both age and current physical health are probably the two most important factors when doing cardio. Engaging in 20 minutes of daily cardio will be plentiful for most individuals, but highly not recommended for others.
Even though research says that even the elderly should engage in 150 minutes per week, an evaluation of their current physical health is needed. If they had a recent injury, but are fine, it is still important to take note of this and adjust accordingly to avoid any unnecessary preventable accidents.
Though health is generally associated with age, and vice versa, not every healthy individual should participate. Very young children should not be overworked during their time of body development and hardcore enthusiasts need to consider the drawbacks when pushing too hard, even professionally.
Overall, cardio is an excellent method for weight loss, and 20 minutes a day of moderate cardio is sufficient for this purpose. Other benefits from these 20 minutes are muscle growth, endurance, and mental health. Always practice with safety in mind and never go too far beyond your limitations.