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Fitness At Your Pace: The Benefits of Cardio and LISS Exercise

Precision Orthopedics By Precision
April 22, 2024 | Health

The word ‘Exercise’ seems to carry a lot of weight.  

Think about it, if you had to put an image to the word ‘Exercise’, what would it be?  

Someone sweating profusely during an intense run? Or perhaps an Arnie-like figure repping out some seriously heavy curls?  

Whatever image you choose, it probably shows something rather intense; but the truth is, most exercise isn’t like this at all.   

Instead, try to visualize exercise as a slow-building habit. Something that requires some form of movement with the goal of gradual improvement, bit by bit, over an extended period of time.   

Exercise requires no comparison with anyone else, and it’s really up to you to decide exactly how you’d like to exercise, as well as how quickly you’d like to progress.  

Just like creating an image in your head, exercise can be whatever you want it to be.   

In today’s post, we’re not only going to break down two of the most important forms of exercise, but we’re also going to help create the path for you to get started on the beautiful road of exercise.   

Starting with the well-known Cardiovascular Exercise. Otherwise known as ‘cardio’, this form of exercise has been around for millennia.   

Speed walking, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing, boxing, circuit training, and an entire list of other sports and hobbies can be considered ‘cardio exercise’.  In fact, any form of exercise that increases your heart rate by fifty percent of its normal rate for a minimum of ten minutes can be labeled as cardio!  

With this elevated heart rate and respiration intensity, oxygen levels and blood flow are increased throughout the body.   

Various muscle groups are also required to work simultaneously and rhythmically in order to continue performing the chosen form of exercise. Due to these processes, vast amounts of calories are burned, while vital organs are forced to work harder, consequently improving heart, circulatory, and lung function over time.   

This is one of the main reasons so many people choose to perform cardio exercise!   

Along with circulatory and vital organ health, cardio has been shown to improve mental health, general mood, sleep, metabolism, hormonal regulation, and overall body weight management too.   

It also helps to have a high level of cardiovascular fitness should that pending zombie apocalypse ever occur…  

But remember, cardio isn’t all about pushing yourself to the outright limit. Cardio is, in fact, quite the contrary. What good is a workout if you push yourself to the absolute edge and burn out after only four minutes?   

Which is why we feel it necessary to introduce a very important form of cardio to get started.  

Introducing ‘low-intensity steady-state’ cardio, also known as LISS.   

LISS falls under the moderate-intensity bracket of exercise, reaching between fifty to seventy percent above your resting heart rate and sustaining this level for an extended period of time. For some, this may merely require a slight increase in walking intensity, while for others, faster jogging may be necessary.   

LISS is an excellent way for beginners to get started with improving their general levels of cardiovascular fitness. It provides less impact on the body than higher-intensity work, it helps build endurance for future, longer routines, and the post-workout recovery is usually a lot quicker.   

Additionally, LISS is far more enjoyable for beginners, thus, making them more likely to continue doing it long term!   

If your ultimate goal is to have an optimal level of cardiovascular health, your long-term target should be to perform three to four cardio-based sessions per week. Each lasting between thirty and forty-five minutes.  

But that’s not where you need to start!  

First, aim for a ten to twenty-minute LISS workout once or twice a week.  

Slightly faster-pace walks or light bike rides will do the trick. If you have a dog, get them to the park and back at a solid pace (they’ll love you for it). Track your rhythm and, if possible, your heart rate too.   

When feeling confident enough to do so, make a small increase in either your speed or your total exercise duration.  

When it comes to moving onto a higher-intensity cardio exercise you may find yourself asking the question:  

‘But what form of higher-intensity cardio exercise is right for me?’  

Instead of asking yourself this question, why not go for:  

‘What form of higher-intensity cardio exercise do I enjoy?’  

It doesn’t have to be a lonesome run, bike ride, or swim. Why not choose a sport or hobby that truly excites you a little and go for that? Have you and your partner been wanting to try an adventurous hike? Has your neighbor been bugging you to come with them to yoga sessions in the park? Have you been itching to sign up for martial arts classes?   

All of these options can count as cardio exercise. And remember, if you ever feel something isn’t for you, there’s no harm in changing things up.  

What’s important is that you start easy and gradually build yourself up as you feel your level of fitness improves.   

Remember, if you ever feel a strong need to pause and take a break, or if you experience unusual pain or discomfort, stop immediately. Evaluate the situation and seek medical assistance if needed.  

In our previous post, Effective Progress Tracking, we asked you to take your heart rate. Take a moment to remind yourself of that number, then divide that number by two and add that to your resting heart rate.   

For example, if your resting heart rate is 80 beats per minute, your total would be 120.   

This number is your target heart rate when performing cardiovascular exercise.   

Don’t worry too much if you’re unable to yet sustain activity with this heart rate for ten minutes. It will naturally come over time – you merely need to stick with it.   

In summary: Cardiovascular exercise, also known as ‘cardio’, refers to any aerobic exercise that elevates your resting heart rate by fifty percent for a minimum of ten minutes.  

Low-intensity steady-state cardio, or LISS, is a gentle form of exercise suitable for beginners aiming to enhance their cardiovascular endurance.  

The advantages of cardio for both the body and mind are almost uncountable.  

As with anything, start gradually and eventually make cardio a regular part of your routine. Make it a priority in your life. You’ll soon discover that adding increased heart rates, extra movement, and sweat to your days brings nothing but joy to your new and active life.