The Different Types of Cardio and Their Benefits

Updated on September 26, 2016

What Is "Cardio"?

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is any activity that increases the heart rate and blood circulation in your body. It is the best way to burn off calories and helps in fat loss. However, it is not the only way. Cardio speeds up the process of burning fat, whereas strength training and eating healthy can help you lose the extra fat in your body.

There are many types of cardio which can help you achieve your fitness goals. Some types are for professionals, while others are for beginners. All types have their advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of cardiovascular exercises are mentioned below.

We will discuss these types:

  • Low intensity, long duration
  • Medium intensity, medium duration
  • High intensity, short duration
  • Aerobic Interval Training
  • Anaerobic Interval Training
  • Fartlek Training, or speed play
  • Circuit Training

Low Intensity, Long Duration

Low intensity, long duration cardio is long and continuous but slow and easy. This type involves 40 to 60% of the maximum heart rate. It includes walking, cycling, jogging, or any other activity which may let you talk to another person easily.

This type of cardio is practiced for around 40 minutes at a constant rate. From burning fat to increasing your fitness, this cardio is mainly for beginners. Long duration cardio can easily burn 500 kcal in a 30-minute workout. Hence, you are effectively burning calories without reducing your daily calorie intake. Also, this type of cardio can help you get in shape by just exercising 30 to 40 minutes regularly.

As stated above, all types have their pros and cons. One consequence of this kind is that it is boring and very time-consuming. For maximum fat loss, you will need to work out at least three days a week, which can be repetitive and tiring at the same time.

Medium Intensity, Medium Duration

This type of cardio is the step-up to low intensity cardio. It mainly concentrates on 70% of the maximum heart rate. It is considered to be an aerobic exercise. It is harder than low-intensity cardio and saves time. It usually requires about 20 to 30 minutes.

Medium-intensity activities include brisk walking at about 4 mph, tennis doubles, badminton, riding a bike, swimming laps, etc. It helps in fat loss and boosts your aerobic capacity. It is described as the beginning to breathing heavily but not so much that you are out of breath and should stop. Trainers recommend you to work out for at least 30 minutes if you want to achieve your fitness goal to improve your health and speed up weight loss.

High Intensity, Short Duration

High-intensity workout burns more calories, increases fitness levels, and is less time-consuming as compared to the low and moderate intensity. This type of cardio requires you to work out between 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. Examples include high-intensity interval training, running, hiking, climbing stairs, and plyometric exercises. This type is an anaerobic one, depending on the genetics and fitness level of an individual.

Experts suggest to work out at high intensity for 20 minutes, three days per week to get optimum results. Too much of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise can even lead to burns or injuries, so you would not want to do this type of exercise daily. Thus, it is considered to be a good idea to practice all intensity levels cardio to allow your body to work in different ways.

Aerobic Interval Training

This type of cardio is an easy way to burn calories and speed up weight loss without spending much time at the gym. Aerobic interval training comprises of moderate to high-intensity aerobic workout along with a little period of low-intensity cardio.

An example of aerobic interval training can be a 3-minute fast run followed by 1 minute of a slow walk, repeated four times. You can change intervals and intensities according to your preference. You should adjust it such that it does not become tiring and make you stop.

This method of cardio assists the body in losing weight faster as compared to the activities performed at a continuous rate because energy outputs are short and intense. The body is forced to work hard for a short time in rapidly increasing intensity, resulting in more and more calories burning.

Anaerobic Interval Training

Anaerobic interval training means going from low to high at short intervals and resting for equal or longer intervals. It is performed at an intensity ranging from 85 to 100% of your maximum heart rate. This type is very uncomfortable and is usually practiced by experts and athletes who want to improve their performance.

Examples of anaerobic interval training include sprinting for 30 seconds, followed by walking, running again and walking again, each for 30 seconds repeating 3 to 6 times or depending on your level of fitness.

It is simple to go beyond this threshold if it is frequently practiced. Professionals recommend this type once or twice a week along with regular exercises. You need to be sure that the second workout is done at least 24 hours after the first one so that your body gets time to recover.

Fartlek Training

Fartlek, or speed play, training is another cardiovascular exercise that defines intervals of fast running merged with intervals of slow running. For example, running for 10 minutes, sprinting for 30 seconds, walking for 2 minutes, jogging for 5 minutes, and sprinting again.

Repetitive movements can be tiresome and make you lose interest. Fartlek training, however, allows you to practice a variety of activities. It is a good way to avoid being bored and work out with a variety of exercises.

Circuit Training

Circuit training increases your heart rate and strengthens your muscles simultaneously. You will have to work out on different stations, working out various muscle groups very quickly with little or no rest. Doing around 10 to 20 reps at each station with a different exercise, circuit training is interesting and requires about 20 to 30 minutes of workouts. You can switch sequences according to your liking, change different stations, or do it at the gym with a variety of equipment.

Circuit training is a great choice for people with diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. It is the best exercise for you if you are looking for a full body workout in a short period. In fact, even beginners can practice it. The best part is that it can be done even when there is no equipment available; you can select only those exercises that can be done using only your body weight. It is an excellent cardio workout as it allows you to move quickly through different exercises.

All these cardiovascular exercises are great for helping you lose weight. You need to sensibly select what type of workout is best suitable for you to meet your goals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • profile image


      24 months ago

      Sounds Great!!

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      2 years ago

      very good


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