There are many different ways to lose weight, including changing your diet, performing strength training and doing cardio five times a week or more. Adding in regular physical activity such as 40 minutes of cardio is a great starting point for reaching your weight-loss goals. As you get comfortable with your new routine, you may find that combining a few different methods gives you even better results.
Doing cardio five times a week will help you torch calories and achieve your weight-loss goals while also experiencing other benefits.
Why 40 Minutes of Cardio?
Doing 40 minutes of cardio several days a week allows you to exceed the minimum Physical Activity Guidelines recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to HHS, you need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity. By doing 40 minutes of cardio five times a week or more, you'll be getting at least 200 minutes of exercise.
The extra minutes can actually be beneficial to your weight-loss goals. In fact, doubling your efforts to 300 minutes of physical activity may allow for even greater health benefits.
If you wish, you can also increase the intensity of your cardio and cut down on your exercise time. Doing 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, such as running or cycling, is the equivalent of doing 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking at a moderate pace. Last, you can combine moderate and vigorous cardio five days a week to meet your minimum recommended weekly minutes.
Read more: How Much Cardio to Lose 30 Pounds?
Benefits of Cardio
There are numerous benefits to doing cardio five days a week or more. Cardio helps you lower your resting heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, making for a strong heart and cutting the risk of heart disease.
Cardio is also a mood booster and can even combat depression and anxiety. It works to regulate blood sugar, improve your sleep and, yes, burn fat and calories. As such, doing cardio five days a week is one of the best ways not only to lose weight, but to improve your overall health.
For maximum fat loss, combine cardio with strength training, which builds muscle — allowing you to burn slightly more calories at rest. It's also wise to fill your diet with whole foods that don't come in a box, including fresh vegetables and lean proteins, while eliminating processed foods, added sugars and trans fats.
Read more: 5-Day Cardio Workout Plan for the Gym
Losing Weight With Cardio
To lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight. First, determine how many calories you need for maintenance — your basal metabolic rate (BMR) — using the Harris-Benedict formula:
- For men: 66 + (6.2 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - (6.76 x age in years)
- For wome**n:** 655.1 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Multiply the result by the appropriate activity-factor points according to how active you are. If you do cardio five days a week at moderate intensity, for example, multiply your BMR by 1.55 points. If you exercise more vigorously six or seven days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.725 points. That final figure is the number of calories you burn on an average day — or the number needed to maintain your current weight.
Using that final figure, you can determine how much of a caloric deficit you need to lose weight. You need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. If you cut 500 to 1,000 calories from your "maintenance" daily calorie needs, you can lose roughly 1 to 2 pounds a week.
- Harvard Health Publishing: Exercise Is an All-Natural Treatment to Fight Depression
- Harvard Health Publishing: How Much Cardio Should You Do?
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Medical News Today: Calculating How Many Calories Are Burned in a Day
- Harvard Health Publishing: Which Diet Is Best for Long-Term Weight Loss?
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
- Harvard Health Publishing: Get Moving to Slow Cardiovascular Aging
- Mayo Clinic: Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories