Cardio activities, also known as aerobic exercise, typically involve moving your whole body. As a result, your heart beats faster, and you breathe more deeply and quickly. This type of exercise offers numerous health benefits if you do enough of it. The benefits of cardio include strengthening your heart, boosting your mood, and reducing your risk for developing health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Levels of Intensity
The level of intensity of your cardio exercise determines how long you need to perform it. There are two main categories of cardio intensity: moderate and vigorous. To judge the intensity of your exercise, try to talk. If you have trouble saying more than a couple of words at a time, you are exercising at a vigorous intensity. Vigorous exercises include jogging, playing a game of basketball and swimming laps. If you can hold a conversation, you are exercising at a moderate intensity. Moderate exercise includes brisk walking and riding a bike on a flat surface. You're not exercising at a beneficial intensity if you can actually sing a song.
To benefit from your cardio exercise, you need to perform at least 150 minutes of exercise at moderate intensity every week. Exercising at a vigorous pace cuts the amount of time in half: Only 75 minutes per week is needed. You can mix and match moderate and vigorous exercises. Just keep in mind that each minute of vigorous exercises equals two minutes of moderate cardio.
Breaking It Down
You can break your cardio into numerous sessions during the week. For example, you can do five workouts with either 30 minutes of moderate-intensity or 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio. If you want to exercise at a moderate intensity and you don't have a 30-minute block, you can break the workouts into even smaller segments. For the minutes to count toward your weekly total, you must do 10 consecutive minutes of activity. Walking three times a day for 10 minutes would give you your 30 minutes.
These minimum amounts of exercise are enough to give you some of the benefits of cardio. If you can, do more than the minimum each week. This is particularly important if you are trying to lose weight.