The Effects of Low-Intensity Cardio

Although exercise methods such as high-intensity interval training and high-impact aerobics may be popular for their calorie-torching potential, low-intensity cardio has remained popular. This tried-and-true method of exercise may not be the most new or exciting way to work out, but it does offer numerous benefits that can make it an important part of anyone's exercise plan.

The Effects of Low-Intensity Cardio (Image: Chalabala/iStock/GettyImages)

What is Low-Intensity Cardio?

To reap the benefits of low-intensity cardio, make sure what you're doing actually is low intensity. If you're used to performing sprint workouts or high-intensity cardio, you may slip into your old habits and hinder progress toward your current goals.

Low-intensity cardio is performed at between 40 percent and 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiplying that number by 0.4 and 0.6 will give you the end points for your low-intensity cardio range.

Cardio doesn't have to be high-intensity to have benefits. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/GettyImages)

Calorie-Burning Potential

Low-intensity cardio can help you drop pounds or maintain your current weight, as many forms of this type of exercise can help you burn calories. For example, walking at just 2.5 miles per hour can burn 257 calories per hour, while bicycling at a leisurely pace can burn 343 calories per hour. These calorie expenditure statistics are based on a weight of 180 pounds; if you weigh more than that amount, you will burn more calories.

Muscular Endurance

Low-intensity cardiovascular exercise can be an effective method of building muscular endurance. While sprinting and high-intensity exercise can be helpful for building muscle, long sessions of low-intensity cardio are superior for muscular endurance as they provide a high number of repetitions, such as steps or cycle pedal strokes, at low resistance. This type of exercise builds muscular endurance rather than raw strength.

Appetite Control

Low-intensity cardio can also help you control your appetite. From a psychological standpoint, you may feel less hungry and tired because you haven't exerted yourself to the point of sweating heavily and haven't lifted large amounts of weight. Research from the American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology indicates that long sessions of low-intensity cardio can also influence hormone activity in a manner that blunts hunger. A study found that a 60-minute session of cardio increased the body's release of an appetite-blunting hormone and decreased the release of a hormone that promotes hunger.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.