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How much Cardio Activity Should One Get in a Week?

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In the middle of doing extra sweaty exercises, most people feel tired and do wonder how much physical activity would be enough for them to experience many benefits of being active. If one is looking for the answer to the same question, one has come to the right place. Keep reading to know about the benefits of performing cardio activity, and the two-intensity workouts, and finally, learn about the recommended cardio for adults and children in a week. [1]

What is a Cardio Activity?

Cardio is a short form of the term “cardiovascular.” Cardio activity refers to any aerobic exercise or any rhythmic body workout that elevates the heart rate into the target zone of heart rate. The targeted heart rate zone is when one burns out most of his/her calories and fats to condition his/her heart and lungs for better endurance.[1,4]

Moderate-Intensity Cardio Activities

Cardio activities that are done at a moderate intensity will make the heart beat faster and breathing harder than normal but the person can still talk during that kind of workout. Some examples of such aerobic activities include-

  • Water aerobics
  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Playing tennis in doubles [2]

Vigorous-Intensity Cardio Activities

Cardio activities that will push the body harder, require a higher amount of effort, and results in a warm body, sweating, and less talking because of getting out of breath, comes under vigorous-intensity activities. Its examples include-

  • Aerobic dancing
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Hiking uphill
  • Cycling at speed of 10 miles/hour or faster·
  • Jumping rope. [2]

How much cardio should an individual perform per week?

As per the Physical Activity Guidelines issued by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an individual is recommended to have a heart-pumping physical activity for at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) per week to be healthy and fit. It can be simply thought as of 30 minutes daily of moderate-intensity physical activity lasting for 5 days for all adults, including the disabled and elderly. However, every day not all workout needs to be done in a single 30 minutes’ session. The latest guidelines allow us to count all day long moderate-intensity physical activities that could last for even a few minutes at a time.

People who have just started working out won’t be able to follow the recommended cardio guideline but gradually with dedication and commitment, if they keep working out daily, they could build up to at least 150 minutes per week. If they are having a sedentary lifestyle, sitting less can be the first thing, to begin with. To reach their fitness goal, people can perform lot many moderate-intensity exercises in blocks of 10-15 minutes throughout the day. For instance, they can do workout 10 minutes before breakfast, 10 minutes during the lunch break, and 10 minutes after dinner or go for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.

The physical activity guidelines also specify that if people can do cardio for more than 150 minutes per week i.e. up to 300 minutes, they are likely to enjoy greater health benefits. But, the most noteworthy thing is that they must do some workout daily.

The above-mentioned recommendation works well for an average adult who must go for fitness. However, all those individuals who have been doing moderate intensity exercises daily and are fit can cut down their cardio time per week to half which is 75 minutes by performing vigorous intensity workouts. They can even do an equivalent combination of both intensity workouts (moderate and high), with every one-minute vigorous physical activity equivalent to a two-minute moderate-intensity physical activity.

All these guidelines are supported by the current scientific evidence that reveals connections between physical activity, disease prevention, overall health and general well-being, and quality of life. [3]

Recommended Cardio Activity for Adults

  • Do 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week or a combination of two, preferably throughout the week.
  • Include moderate-to-high intensity muscle-strengthening activities like weight lifting at least 2 days a week
  • If having a sedentary lifestyle, do not sit for long instead start with light-intensity exercises to avoid any health issues.
  • Increase the amount spent on physical activities and their intensity gradually over time.[2]

Recommended Cardio Activity for Children

  • Children who are 3-5 years old are generally physically active as they have lot many opportunities to move every day.
  • Children and teenagers of the age group 6-17 years should have at least an hour-long moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic workout every day.
  • Add vigorous-intensity workouts at least 3 days a week.
  • Include weight-bearing activities at least 3 days per week to strengthen the bones and muscles of the body.
  • Increase the time for doing physical activities as well as their intensities gradually over time.[2]

Benefits of Doing Cardio Activity Regularly

There are plenty of perks of performing cardio exercises, including:

  • Boosts mood
  • Improves skin health because of increased blood circulation
  • Helps ward off brain-related health issues including memory loss
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Reduces pain in the joints
  • Improves sense of well-being due to endorphin rush
  • Makes one feel relaxed by reducing stress
  • Provides a more energetic feeling throughout the day as the body becomes stronger than before
  • Enhances sleep quality, especially when the exercises are of both moderate and vigorous intensities
  • Helps with weight loss by burning the excess fats or extra calories
  • Improves sex life by improving the figure, and sex arousal ability, and even helps treat the medication-related sexual dysfunction
  • Lowers stress
  • Boosts self-confidence
  • Increases bone density-when weight-bearing cardio workouts like climbing stairs and hiking is done
  • Increases lung capacity-the amount of air that the lungs can hold
  • Strengthens heart to not let it work harder to pump blood
  • Reduces risk of health issues like hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart attack, and even some forms of cancer
  • Encourages others to perform exercise too. [1,4]

References:

  1.  https://www.bustle.com/wellness/how-much-cardio-per-week-should-you-do
  2.  https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
  3.  https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-much-cardio-should-you-do
  4.  https://www.verywellfit.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cardio-1229553

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