When it comes to how often you should do cardio, there is unfortunately no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on your goals and how much time you have available for exercise.
However, in this article, we are going to give you general tips to help you create an effective cardio routine depending on what your priorities are.
How Often Should You Do Cardio to Lose Weight?
If you’re trying to do cardio to lose weight, the general rule of thumb is that you should do cardio for at least 30 minutes, five times a week. However, this is just a general guideline. If you want to see more significant results, you may need to increase the amount of time you’re doing cardio or the intensity of your workouts.
That being said, the reality is losing weight is just a case of your body burning more calories than you are consuming. There are many calculators online where you can get a rough estimate of your body’s maintenance calories (the calories you need each day to remain the same weight), such as this one from mayo clinic.
It should be said that it’s entirely possible to lose weight by doing no cardio at all and just restricting your diet to consuming fewer calories than your required body maintenance amount. On the other hand, if you enjoy eating and don’t want to restrict your diet in such an extreme way, you can increase your cardio workouts to compensate for that.
How Often Should You Do Cardio to Maintain Weight Loss?
If you’ve already lost weight and are trying to maintain your weight loss, you can do a moderate amount of cardio for 20-30 minutes, three to five times a week to remain healthy and keep the weight off. Alternatively, you can do higher-intensity HIIT workouts for less time, fewer times per week if that better suits you.
As stated above, your body’s ability to gain or lose weight is simply a function of how many calories you are consuming through food and drink, compared to how much energy you are burning each day. Given that, to maintain your current weight, you will need to only eat roughly the amount of calories that your body needs to sustain itself given your current lifestyle and fitness routine.
How Often Should You Do Cardio for Overall Health?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that healthy adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderately intensive aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week. For example, that could be made up of 5 30-minute cardio sessions a week, or 3 50-minute sessions. Whatever the case, it’s important to fit your workouts around your lifestyle.
If 150 minutes of cardio a week sounds like a lot, don’t worry – you’re not alone! It’s completely fine to start off slow and build your way up. Also, if you can’t fit that much exercise into your schedule, that’s okay. Any amount of cardio is better than none at all!
There are many different types of cardio exercises that you can do to meet your fitness goals. Some examples of cardio exercises include walking, running, biking, swimming, and elliptical training.
The best type of cardio exercise is the one that you enjoy and will actually do on a regular basis. If you hate running, there’s no point in forcing yourself to do it. Instead, find a cardio activity that you enjoy and make it part of your regular routine.
How Many Times a Week Should You Do Cardio?
How many times a week you should do cardio depends on your individual fitness goals and your lifestyle. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may need to do cardio more often than if you’re just trying to improve your overall health. A good general rule of thumb is to do cardio at least three times a week, but you can do it more often if you want to see faster results.
If you have a very busy life during the week, you might only be able to fit in a quick workout each morning or evening – or perhaps you don’t have time at all! That is okay, you can instead have longer workouts at the weekend if it better suits you. It doesn’t matter too much in terms of results.
Taking more steps a day also helps reduce the risk of premature death from all sources. For people under the age of 60, the risk of premature death levels off at somewhere between 8000 and 10000 steps a day. For older adults, the risk of premature death plateaued in the range of 6000 to 8000 steps a day.
How Often Should You Do Cardio When Building Muscle
If you’re trying to build muscle, you might be wondering how often you should do cardio. The answer is, unsatisfyingly, that it depends on your goals. If you purely want to gain weight and bulk up, you should probably stop cardio altogether as it would be working against your goals.
If, however, you are trying to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, cardio is still highly recommended for the health benefits, and also to help burn off that fat. You should also prioritize your strength workouts before your cardio sessions as you’ll want to put most of your energy into building muscle as this will naturally burn calories anyway.
So, how often should you do cardio? It really depends on your fitness goals and lifestyle. However, most experts recommend doing cardio at least three times a week for overall health benefits. And remember – the best type of cardio is the one that you enjoy and will actually do on a regular basis!
Zoe Taylor has a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and is an avid runner and fitness writer. Zoe works with BodyCapable by researching and writing cardio-related content. In her spare time, Zoe runs marathons, keeps up to date with the latest fitness trends, and enjoys walking her dog!
Body Capable’s content is for informational and educational purposes only. Our website is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment; we encourage you to seek out a medical professional whenever necessary.