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Steady State vs. High Intensity Exercise: Which is The Best Type of Cardio?

Cardiovascular exercise is the perfect complement to weight training. Read on to learn about the similarities and differences between the two types of cardiovascular activity.


The Importance of Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise induces a variety of beneficial changes within the body that boost cardiorespiratory, hormonal, and neurological health. Popular examples of aerobic exercises include walking, running, biking, swimming, and other activities that raise both heart rate and breathing rate.


According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, adults should perform 75 minutes of high intensity or 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week. Physical activity guidelines are supported by a rich body of evidence demonstrating the connection between disease prevention and physical activity.

Steady State Exercise: Best for Targeting Fat

Steady state exercise, a.k.a moderate intensity exercise, is generally described as the greatest exercise intensity one can maintain while feeling comfortable talking. One can hold a conversation while performing steady state exercise because muscle oxygen demand is less than the available oxygen supply. This form of exercise is readily available to everyone, no gym membership required! Simply going outside for a brisk jog or bike ride will do the trick. Although this type of exercise is time consuming, it can effectively increase fat metabolism. Inside each of our cells are thousands of tiny ‘energy factories’ called mitochondria. Steady state exercise simultaneously enhances the delivery of fats to these ‘energy factories’ and the capacity of mitochondria to burn fats as fuel in a process called beta-oxidation. This form of cardiovascular exercise is ideal for people who want to shred body fat and obtain a lean physique.


High Intensity Exercise: Best for Time Efficiency

High intensity exercise, referred to as vigorous intensity exercise in the United States guidelines, is described as the exertion level at which talking feels difficult. Holding a conversation feels uncomfortable during this activity because muscle oxygen demand is greater than the available oxygen supply. A few examples of high intensity exercises are sprinting, jump roping, and battle rope training. For busy professionals in a time crunch this form of exercise will deliver the biggest bang for your buck. That’s because 1 minute of high intensity activity is equivalent to 2 minutes of moderate intensity exercise! In other words, this type of exercise burns twice as many calories as steady state activity. High intensity exercise is perfect for individuals who want to lose weight, since it is an extremely efficient way of burning calories.

The Takeaway: Do What Works for YOU!

Ultimately the best form of exercise is the type that you will do consistently. With this in mind, identify which type of exercise you enjoy most and stick with that! So long as you maintain a calorie deficit any type of exercise will aid you in reaching your weight loss goal.


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