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How Much Cardio Should You Do to Lose 50 Pounds?

author image Laura Wallace Henderson
Piper Li, a professional freelance writer, began writing in 1989. Her articles appear online at Biz Mojo, Walden University and various other websites. She is the co-editor for "Kansas Women: Focus on Health." With a bachelor's degree in journalism from Mesa State, Li enjoys writing about health, horticulture and business management.
How Much Cardio Should You Do to Lose 50 Pounds?
Regular aerobic exercise can help you lose excess weight.

Obesity is a challenging problem for many individuals. Approximately 34 million adults fall into the obese category, according to While just limiting your intake of calories can help you lose excess fat, exercise also plays a major role in weight control. Different types of exercise burn varying amounts of calories, making it important to choose an activity that helps you meet your weight loss goals.

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Losing weight requires burning more calories than you consume. A pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories. To lose 50 lbs, you must create a 175,000-calorie deficit. A safe weight loss of around 2 lbs. each week requires a weekly calorie deficit of around 7,000 calories. Aerobic exercise, also called cardio workouts, can help you lose your excess weight.


While all physical movements burn calories, cardio exercise uses the most energy. This type of exercise uses your large muscle groups to perform continuous movements that require oxygen to produce energy. The longer you continue the movements, the more calories you burn. Cardio workouts include simple activities, such as walking, and strenuous activities, such as kickboxing.


Healthy adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activities at a moderate pace weekly, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. The amount of time it takes you to lose 50 lbs. depends on your weight and the type of cardio workouts you perform. For instance, during a single hour of exercise, a 200 lb. individual burns about 455 calories doing low-impact aerobics, 319 calories canoeing, 546 calories hiking and 637 calories swimming laps.


Considering your size and your selected forms of exercise can help you determine how much cardio you must perform to lose 50 lbs. If you weigh 200 lbs., for example, you must complete approximately 275 hours of swimming to create a calorie deficit of around 175,000 calories. While this might seem like a lot of cardio, you can increase your rate of weight loss by restricting your calories. Using cardio to burn 500 calories and dieting to cut out 500 calories each day, you can lose the recommended 2 lbs. each week. At this rate, you can expect to lose a total of 50 lbs. within about 25 weeks, or approximately six months.

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