Cardio is perfect for keeping your heart healthy, your brain happy, and your body lean. But there is so much more to it than stepping on a treadmill for a 30-minute stroll. Instead, boost your results and beat boredom by combining interval training and steady-state cardio.
You may be familiar with high-intensity interval training (HIIT), in which short periods of intense activity are alternated with periods of recovery. Going all-out (even for just a minute or two) isn’t easy, but interval training works. Study after study demonstrates that you can get fitter—and far faster—with brief, hard-core bouts of cardio exercise.
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And you’ve likely engaged in steady-state cardio. Each time you hop on an elliptical and plug away for 30 minutes at the same pace; every time you blaze through an episode of House Hunters while trekking along on the arc trainer...even if you’re moving fast, you’re doing steady-state cardio. It may not match the minute-for-minute burn of interval training, but it has its place in your routine too.
The Benefits of Interval Training
Interval training is not an everyday thing. Thanks to greater intensity, you don’t have to do a HIIT workout as long, nor should you do it as often. It’s perfect for those days when you only have 20 to 30 minutes to exercise. Schedule two days a week for an interval class or a routine such as this one from Livestrong.com, and you can see real gains in speed, caloric burn, and cardiovascular fitness.
The Benefits of Steady-State Training
Steady-state training is excellent for recovery days. If you go at a brisk pace, you can still see improvements in performance and health. And low-intensity cardio is a good way to increase blood flow to sore, tired muscles after a day of intense exercise or weightlifting. In fact, steady-state cardio will make you feel better after a hard workout than chilling on the sofa. Whether you prefer to pedal, walk, or step, make sure you pencil in 30-60 minutes three times a week for a heart-healthy date with your headphones and your favorite machine.
The best fitness programs are well-rounded so that you are not! Variety can help you to improve physically and remain excited and engaged mentally. Schedule several sessions each week with weights to tone your arms, legs, glutes, abs, chest and back; sprinkle in some interval training; and tie it all together with steady-state cardio for a truly sound approach to good health.