There is often controversy over what type of cardio should be done to achieve the highest success in weight loss; steady state cardio or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). In today's post we will review the benefits and challenges of doing steady state cardio, while the next post will review HIIT style. That way, you will be able to determine what type of cardio best suits your goals and meets your lifestyle needs.
Steady state cardio is pretty self explanatory, it is preformed at a constant state for an extended amount of time. Some examples would be a fast paced walk for 30 minutes, riding a bike at the same cadence for an hour or working out on the elliptical without any hills or increases in speed. Do not get me wrong, steady state cardio can be challenging, but usually, during steady state cardio, you are not going to reach your maximum output because of the duration of the activity. Sometimes, people complain that steady state cardio can become boring or too predictable. This can be true which is why I would recommend to add in a variety of workout types into your week. It is important for your exercise routine to be a combination or realistic expectations of what you will be able to manage. It is always easier to accomplish exercising when you are looking forward to your workout as opposed to dreading it, so try to make them enjoyable!
While steady state cardio may not get you the weight loss results you desire as quickly as HIIT interval training would, don't totally rule it out - here's why:
- Allows for muscle recovery (especially if you are incorporating HIIT and strength training into your routine)
- Can be a good time for mental decompression and self reflection since you are not having to think of what's coming next
- Improves your aerobic fitness levels and can prepare you for real life events (hiking, long walks on the beach, chasing your kids for hours)
- Is not as stressful on your body as other types of workouts, but still burns calories and boosts endorphins
If you have the time, are ok with the possibility of achieving results a little slower, or if you are just beginning to add exercise into your life, then steady state cardio is your friend. If you are looking for quick results, are on a time crunch and enjoy mixing things up, maybe a HIIT style workout is more suitable. However, being in that second category, I still would not dismiss steady state for the reasons mentioned above.
After all of that being said, my biggest recommendation is to do what you enjoy. If you are moving and working out, consider that a win, no matter what 'type' of workout you chose for that day. By making time for yourself through exercise, your body and mind will reap the benefits.
Coach Kenna, MS
Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Worksite Wellness Coordinator