Cardio exercise is a type of physical activity that causes a sustained increase in your heart rate and breathing and consequently, an elevation in the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body and the working muscles.
The longer you can sustain this activity, the more conditioned your heart and body get.
It also uses a lot of energy in the form of calories.
This could be done in any form of activities, including biking, jogging, walking, swimming, dancing, and calisthenics exercises.
By getting your heart rate up by doing the activity, you are training your cardiorespiratory system.
It can also help you lose weight by burning extra calories.
And it's quite effective.
The researchers at Duke University Medical researchers report cardio exercise burns 67% more calories than resistance training (2).
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, and adding cardio to your workouts helps you with the calorie deficit you need in weight loss.
How much cardio should you do?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD, recommended doing 30 minutes of daily walking or minimum of 60 minutes a week of cardiovascular or sweating activity—ideally in three 20-minute sessions (3).
And to be considered a sweating activity, you need to raise your heart rate up to 80% of your maximum heart rate (calculate yours by 220 - your age) for an extended period of time.
Cardio workouts for weight loss
All types of cardio workouts are good for weight loss, but cardio intervals or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) have been found to be the most effective in weight loss than steady-state cardio (4).
With cardio intervals, your working muscles' need for oxygen exceeds the available supply, and you can only perform it in short bursts.
The best example is sprints.
The energy needed for this type of activity is produced by burning carbohydrates and increases your resting metabolism and burns more calories in less time.
With a higher resting metabolic rate, you extend your calorie burn for hours after your workout. You'll also burn more calories throughout the day even at rest.
This 21-minute cardio workout is based on HIIT. And it's all about burning calories, revving up your metabolism and helping you to lose weight the efficient way.
We recommend that you do this routine 2 days a week in addition to your resistance training.
Studies have shown that when cardio exercise is combined with resistance training, it can help you lose more weight and fat and help preserve muscle mass, which is essential for keeping the weight off in the long run (5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
If you're not currently following any resistance training program, grab of our exercise posters here! Each comes with a full 4-week workout plan, plus exercise logs and a workout calendar.
21-Min Cardio Workout to Lose Weight
There you have it!
Doing cardio regularly has been proven effective for weight loss. While all types of cardio are good and can be beneficial to your health and overall well-being, HIIT particularly has been found to be very effective at burning calories not just during your workout, but long after your workout.
And that's what this 21-Minute HITT Workout is all about.