Which Cardio Training is For Me – High or Low Intensity?

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What Is Cardio?

Cardio exercise, also called aerobic exercise or endurance exercise, is any vigorous activity that increases heart rate and respiration and raises oxygen and blood flow throughout the body while using large muscle groups of the body repetitively and rhythmically. Such activity progressively challenges your most vital internal body organs and improves the function and performance of the heart, lungs, and circulatory system.  People engage in cardio to lose weight and to reap the amazing health benefits.

Some of the most common examples of cardio include brisk walking, running, cycling, walking stairs, skipping rope, and swimming. However, even household chores like vacuuming, scrubbing the floor, and mopping can qualify as a cardio exercise!   

One of the world’s largest studies on physical activity which analyzed data from more than 130,000 people across 17 countries has found that doing household chores can be just as effective as running or working out when it comes to cutting your risk of heart disease and extending your life.  Doesn’t that motivate you to do more housework instead of treating it as a dreaded chore?

Recommended Frequency and Duration

It is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.  This can be spread out during the course of a week.  The more time you invest in cardio, the more benefits you’ll reap from your hard work. But even small amounts of physical activity are helpful than none. Being active for short periods of time throughout the day can add up to provide health benefits too.

Benefits of Cardio

Some of the known benefits of cardio include:

  1. Great for weight loss as cardio burns fat and calories.
  2. Enhances sleep quality.
  3. Strengthens your heart.
  4. Expands lung capacity, or the amount of air that your lungs can hold.
  5. Increases bone density when you do weight-bearing cardio exercises like hiking or climbing stairs.
  6. Increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid — these are all brain chemicals that help promote the feeling of being happy, confident and capable.  
  7. Lowers stress and relieves depression.
  8. Reduces the risks of diseases.

Which Cardio Is For Me – HIIT or LIIT?

What is HIIT?

HIIT (high-intensity interval training)  is any type of exercise that consists of a short burst of intense exercise that precedes a period of rest or low-intensity exercise.  The period of intense exercise can vary from less than 45 seconds to a few minutes. You then rest or do gentle exercise for a similar time frame before repeating the sequence. Overuse injuries can arise if workouts are too long; it is advisable to cap HIIT workouts at 20 to 30 minutes.

Despite how short the HIIT workout is, it can produce health benefits similar to twice as much moderate-intensity exercise.

HIIT can be performed indoor and outdoor, from running to strength training, and everything in between. The goal is to repeatedly raise and lower your heart rate by giving it all you’ve got in the high-energy periods and recovering in the less intense periods.

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Who should participate in HIIT?

If you are in good physical health, HIIT is an excellent option for you.  As long as you don’t have an injury or medical reason to abstain from high-intensity exercises, HIIT is for you.

Effective HIIT workouts

Some of the HIIT moves you can pull off at home include Push-Up, Burpee, Plank Jack, Mountain Climber, Jumping Jack, Jump Squat, High Knees, and Skater, while walk-and-sprint (30-second walk followed by 30-second sprint) and jog-and-sprint are best done outdoor.

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Benefits of HIIT

One of the advantages of HIIT is that it helps you burn calories after you are done exercising.  Several studies have demonstrated HIIT’s impressive ability to increase your metabolic rate for hours after exercise.

HIIT could help increase muscle mass in certain individuals. However, the gain in muscle mass is primarily in the muscles being used the most, often the trunk and legs.

HIIT is the best exercise to engage in when your goal is to burn away stubborn fat.

What is LIIT

LIIT stands for Low-Intensity Interval Training, a new must-try fitness trend. This workout typically involves strength intervals with longer rest periods. LIIT exercise is a way of toning up the muscles and getting enough rest between repetitions.

The main difference between HIIT and LIIT is that LIIT does not reach the same level of physical challenge as HIIT. Imagine the difference between doing 20 push-ups and 10 push-ups and you’ll get a rough idea of how much easier LIIT is.

And while you would usually spend 20 to 30 minutes for a HIIT session, you’ll be needing 40 to 60 minutes to reap the benefits of LIIT.  While HIIT will push you to your maximum exertion limit, LIIT has a gentler pace.

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Who should participate in LIIT?

As it’s low impact, LIIT is a great form of exercise for the novice, anyone with a higher risk of injury, those with a lower stamina reserve, athletes who have stopped training and want to resume their regular routines, the older population, and those who are overweight.

If you are already suffering from joint discomfort but want to keep your fitness levels up, LIIT can be your new favourite sport.

Effective LIIT workouts

There are many ways to do a LIIT workout. It could be something as simple as jogging for 90-seconds followed by three to five minutes of walking to recover, then going back to a jog again.

LIIT is commonly done on household gym machines such as the elliptical, stationary bike, treadmill, or rower. It can also be done outdoor.

If you’re looking for a simple LIIT circuit to be done at home, try this:

10 squats

Rest for 90 seconds

10 push-ups

Rest for 90 seconds

30-second plank

Rest for 90 seconds

10 sit-ups

Rest for 90 seconds

Try and keep moving during your rest interval by doing some gentle stretches or walking around slowly. You want to let your heart rate decrease so keep your movements easy.

You could also attend classes such as Barre and Yoga to improve your flexibility, increase your core strength, and improve your posture.

Benefits of LIIT

The benefits of LIIT are related to the cardiovascular system. Additionally, it promotes the burning of fat and calories in the body, improves mood, and reduces stress.

LIIT exercise is also a good way to reduce the risk of injuries while training, improves mobility, flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular resistance. If you’re looking to increase muscle mass, LIIT is also a good option for you.

Cardio doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. Just get creative and mix things up. Chances are, you’ll find endless solutions to getting in shape and improving your stamina, strength, and endurance. The key is to be consistent, disciplined, and make exercise a priority in your life.  Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life.


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Health Freak Mommy
Author: Health Freak Mommy

A health freak mom to 3 teenage girls. Blogger since April 2007.