Cardio exercises for weight loss: is 300 minutes a week enough?

Cardio exercises for weight loss: is 300 minutes a week enough?
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Are you thinking about weight loss? Cardio can help. But how much cardio do you need to lose weight? An expert shares how much time you can devote to cardio for weight loss.

You’ll find cardio in almost everything you do, whether it’s walking your dog, doing Zumba, or running. Of course, the intensity varies from one activity to another. When it comes to losing weight, high-intensity exercise works wonders. But before you put on your sneakers and go for a run, it’s important to know how much cardio you need to lose weight. Overdoing it can lead to various negative consequences.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, cardio, also known as aerobic exercise, is an activity that helps you breathe a little harder. As you do this, your heart rate also increases.

Health Shots reached out to Delhi-based certified fitness and nutrition coach Abhi Singh Thakur to find out about cardio and weight loss.

Running is a great cardio exercise. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Cardio for weight loss

Is 10 or 30 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise a week enough to lose weight? This is a question many women with weight loss in mind ask themselves. Thakur says the amount of cardio a woman needs to do to lose weight depends on various factors. such as age, current weight, fitness level, and diet. For weight loss, he says, women may need to potentially do at least 300 minutes of cardio per week. They must also be aware of overdoing it now with cardio exercises or it can lead to the following side effects.

It increases the risk of injuries such as stress fractures and muscle tears.
Lead to burnout and fatigue
Lead to decreased performance.
Disrupt the hormonal balance, leading to menstrual irregularities and reduced bone density.
Causing the body to break down muscle tissue for energy, leading to a decrease in overall muscle mass, which can lower your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight in the long run.

Therefore, striking a balance between cardio exercise, strength training, and recovery is key to achieving your weight loss goals safely and effectively.

How cardio helps you lose weight

Cardiovascular exercise is good for those who wish to shed excess fat in their body. Here’s why it’s good for weight loss:

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1. Burn calories

Cardio exercise is an effective way to burn calories and create a calorie deficit, which is necessary for weight loss. Thakur says the more calories you burn, the more weight you can lose. So, running, cycling, swimming and rowing are great for burning calories.

2. Increases metabolism

Cardio exercise can boost your metabolism, which is the rate at which your body burns calories at rest. Regular cardio exercise can increase the number of calories you burn throughout the day, even when you’re not exercising.

3. Reduces body fat

When women think about weight loss, it’s mostly the abdominal area that they’re usually concerned about. The good news is that cardio exercise can reduce body fat, especially in the abdominal area. Losing fat is essential to weight loss because fat is a calorie-dense substance, and losing even a small amount of fat can have a significant impact on overall weight loss, says the expert.

4. Improve insulin sensitivity

Cardio exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, which is the body’s ability to use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and when it works properly, it can help the body use glucose (sugar) for energy instead of storing it as fat.

5. Reduces stress

Cardio exercise can help reduce stress levels, which can contribute to weight gain. Stress can cause the body to release cortisol, a hormone that promotes fat storage in the abdominal area.

Effective cardio exercises for weight loss

While running is a great cardio exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime, there are more options. Let’s take a look!

1. Cycling

Cycling is an excellent low impact cardio exercise that can be done indoors or outdoors. Here’s how to do it:

Adjust the seat height of the bike so that your leg is almost fully extended when the pedal is down.
Begin pedaling at a comfortable pace, gradually building up speed and resistance.
Keep your core engaged, shoulders relaxed, and eyes forward.
If you cycle outdoors, wear a helmet and, of course, respect the highway code.

Cycling is fun and good for weight loss. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Jump rope

Jumping rope might seem like something that can only be enjoyed by children. But it’s a simple and effective cardio exercise that can be done anywhere.

Here’s how to do it
Hold the rope handles in each hand, with the rope behind your body.
Jump over the rope, landing on your toes and keeping your knees slightly bent.
Gradually increase your speed and challenge yourself with different jump variations.

3. Dancing

It’s a fun and enjoyable cardio exercise that can be done alone or with your partner or friends. There are also fun dance workouts.

Here’s how to do it:
Choose your favorite type of music and start moving to the beat.
Incorporate different dance styles and moves to make it fun and challenging.
Keep your core engaged, shoulders relaxed, and breathe deeply.

4. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent low-impact cardio exercise that works the entire body, says Thakur.

Here’s how to do it –

Start by warming up with a few freestyle laps or another stroke.
Swim at a comfortable pace, gradually increasing speed and distance over time.
Focus on maintaining proper technique and breathing rhythm.

But you should know that weight loss isn’t just about cardio or any type of exercise. Your weight loss journey should also involve a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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