Cardio exercise is very important for your body whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or improve your health. The object of cardio training is to improve the body’s ability to utilize oxygen efficiently by increasing your heart rate throughout the workout.
The good thing about cardio is that there are plenty of exercises to choose from, many of which do not require special equipment. The best cardio exercise is simply the one that you enjoy and will commit to doing. Keep in mind, however, that if your goal is to lose weight, some exercises will expedite your results faster than others. I’ve picked a few of the most effective calorie burning cardio exercises, in no particular order. So read up, and get ready to sweat like crazy. (All calorie estimates are from shapefit.com.)
1. Running: Running is a great choice because all you need is a pair of high-quality running shoes. Running is high impact, which will not only help build strong bones and connective tissue, but it will get your heart rate up more quickly than low or no impact exercises. If you add speed drills or hills, you will burn even more calories. A 145-pound person can easily burn 300 calories in 30 minutes.
2. Swimming: Swimming is a great choice because it is a full body exercise. The more body parts you involve in your workout, the more calories you’ll burn. Spend 30 minutes doing the breast stroke and you’ll burn almost 400 calories. Best of all, your joints are fully supported so you don’t have to worry about high-impact injuries.
3. Elliptical Trainer: The elliptical trainer is one of the most popular cardio machines at the gym. You can add intensity and variety to your workout by increasing resistance and using the adjustable ramps and arm handles to work your muscles in a different way. Because the elliptical trainer does not have any impact to your body, it is also a good choice for runners looking for a break from pounding the pavement. A 145-pound person burns about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
4. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT is usually found in boot camp classes. HIIT is all about speed and it’s intense. Experts estimate that in a HIIT workout, you can lose up to nine times more fat than other cardio workouts. It is mostly used for individuals trying to lose weight and get fit quickly. Tabata interval training is the single most effective type of HIIT, the most intense, and surprisingly the shortest in duration because it only lasts for four minutes—but those four minutes produce remarkable effects.
To determine how many calories you are burning during your workouts, check out this fat burn calculator. To use it, enter your weight, select an exercise, and get ready to melt off some fat.
Jennifer Adams is a nationally certified personal trainer and exercise instructor who has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. She is the owner of Sand N Sea Fitness in Santa Cruz and is a practicing attorney. Contact her at [email protected]