Breaking a sweat a few times a week can do wonders for your mind and body. Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, involves repetitive and rhythmic contraction of large muscle groups, challenging both your heart rate and lungs.
There are all different types of cardio exercises, and you may be wondering what the best cardio workout is for you. Ultimately, the best cardio is the type you enjoy and will do consistently! Any movement is better than none, and whatever type of cardio fits into your lifestyle is the one worth doing.
If you’re just starting out, 15 minutes of cardio may be all you can do and that is perfectly fine. You’ll want to try to work up to 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity as recommended by the American Heart Association.
Editor’s Note: You should clear any long-term changes to your fitness routine with your primary healthcare provider beforehand. Weight loss, health and body image are complex subjects — before deciding to switch up your exercise and fitness levels, we invite you to gain a broader perspective with our exploration into the hazards of diet culture.
The Benefits of Cardio Workouts
More than just helping you lose weight and build muscle, cardio has some serious health benefits that impact longevity and overall wellness. Some of the many benefits of cardiovascular exercise include:
- Increase energy and stamina
- Strengthen the heart and respiratory muscles
- Lower resting heart rate
- Reduce cholesterol levels and arterial blood pressure
- Improve mental alertness, increase wellbeing and reduce tendency for depression and anxiety
- Increase lean body mass and metabolic rate
- Decrease risk of chronic diseases including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Before you start any exercise program, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider. Here are the best cardio workouts of all time, according to our fitness experts.
1. Power Walking
Starting a power walking program can help you stay active, improve longevity and assist with weight management. By picking up the pace and walking with a purpose, you can cover several miles in this low-impact form of cardio. You may notice significant improvements in just two weeks of a power walking routine, ranging from benefits like decreased blood pressure to stronger leg muscles. Beginners should start with just 10 minutes per day, then slowly increasing the time you walk by 5 minutes until you’re able to get up to 30 minutes per day.
Some tips for power walking:
- Maintain good posture by keeping your head upright with your chin in neutral position. Engage your core and glutes with each step.
- Focus on quick smooth strides rather than longer strides.
- Start with your heel striking the ground first, then rolling onto the ball of your foot and finally pushing off the toes.
- Recruit your arms for a total body exercise and up to 10% more calorie burn. Bend your arms at the elbows and swing