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How Many Minutes of Cardio to Burn Fat?

author image Kate Richey
Kate Richey has been active in the health and fitness fields since 2005. Following completion of her M.S.Ed in exercise science and wellness from Old Dominion University, Richey obtained her physical activity in public health specialist certification and health fitness specialist certification through the ACSM.
How Many Minutes of Cardio to Burn Fat?
2 people running outdoors.

Health professionals have differing opinions on the amount of cardiovascular exercise you need to burn fat. As an individual, your body fuels activity differently than the person on the treadmill next to you. In general, performing 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity on most days of the week will produce fat-burning results.

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The Starting Line

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults perform a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. A busy schedule might make these numbers seem daunting, but by performing smaller rounds of exercise spread throughout the day it can be achieved.

Fuel for Thought

Your body uses a variety of energy systems in order to fuel activity. The energy system most closely linked with fat burning is the oxygen system which further divides into aerobic glycolysis and aerobic lipolysis. The glycolysis arm of the aerobic system favors moderate to high intensity extended duration exercise and is fueled largely by carbohydrates. The lipolysis arm of the aerobic system favors low to moderate intensity extended duration exercise and is fueled by fats. Long endurance events like ultra-marathons depend heavily on aerobic lipolysis.

Fitness by the Numbers

Running ultra-marathons every day in hopes of burning excess body fat is neither practical or healthy. Your body uses a combination of fuels during exercise. Rather than hyper-focusing on which type of fuel your body is using, concentrate on completing adequate amounts of cardiovascular exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend completing 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise weekly for greater health benefits. Included in those health benefits is weight reduction. By engaging in that quantity of cardiovascular exercise you can expect to see results in approximately four weeks.

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