If you want to shed a few pounds, cardiovascular exercise, or simply cardio, is a healthy way to do it. You need only a moderate amount of cardio to lose 10 pounds. As a bonus, when you follow a regular program of cardio exercise, your level of physical fitness and stamina will improve. Your heart and lung function will increase, and you will be at less risk for heart disease.
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Cardio is any type of exercise or activity that makes your heart and respiration increase, carried out continuously for at least several minutes. You can choose from many types of cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging or cycling. You can do these cardio exercises outdoors or indoors on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. Swimming, playing basketball and stair climbing are other examples of cardio exercise.
When you start a cardio workout, your heart and lungs work harder to send more oxygen into your bloodstream. Your blood flow increases to carry the oxygen to the muscles you are using to exercise. Your muscles use the oxygen to burn fat or glucose. Because you are burning more calories, cardio exercise helps you lose weight.
To lose one pound, you must burn 3,500 calories so, to lose 10 pounds, you need enough cardio exercise to burn 35,000 calories. How much cardio that requires depends on your weight, the type of exercise you choose and the intensity of your workouts. If you haven’t been exercising, you should start slowly. Gradually build up to 30 minutes per day or more five days a week. To avoid pushing yourself too hard, keep your effort at a level that allows you to talk while exercising. Over time, you’ll be able to increase your pace as your physical condition improves.
To calculate how much cardio you need to lose 10 pounds, use a reference chart like those provided by Harvard Health Publications. Look for the column that most closely matches your body weight. Next, go down the list until you come to your chosen activity. Divide the 35,000 calories needed to lose 10 pounds by the listed number of calories per time period. For example, if you weigh about 155 pounds and walk at 3.5 mph, you will burn 298 calories for each hour you exercise. Divided into 35,000, this works out to about 117.5 hours. If you exercise the minimum 30 minutes five days a week suggested by the American Heart Association, it will take you a about 47 weeks to lose 10 pounds. You can speed this up by exercising more intensely, as in interval training or for longer periods of time.
Cardio exercise is essential to healthy weight loss, but it’s only part of the story. You should keep a food diary and use it to monitor your diet and look for ways to reduce your caloric intake. This is especially important when you start a regular exercise program. As you become more active, your appetite may increase. If you aren’t careful, you may increase your caloric intake, negating your efforts to lose weight. Avoid fad or extreme diets. Eat an appropriate amount from each of the six food groups listed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid each day.