How Often Should You Do Cardio to Lose Weight?

by Kimberly Nunley, Demand Media
    If you run for your cardio, you won't have to exercise everyday.

    If you run for your cardio, you won't have to exercise everyday.

    Combining healthy eating with a consistent cardiovascular workout program is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off. How often you have to get your cardio workouts in to burn enough calories depends on how aggressively you’d like to lose weight, your schedule and the type of cardio activities you participate in.

    Losing Weight

    Cardio provides an opportunity to burn a significant number of calories in a short amount of time. When you burn more calories than you consume, your body is forced to break down the fat that you have stored on your body to use as fuel. Therefore, the more calories you burn with cardio, the greater opportunity you have to lose body fat. Every time you burn 3,500 more calories than you consume, you’ll lose a pound of fat.

    Healthy Rate of Fat Loss

    A healthy rate of weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, according to the American Council on Exercise. This means that every week you’ll want to work toward burning 3,500 to 7,000 more calories than you consume, which breaks down to an average of 500 to 1,000 calories per day. Your cardio workout program should be designed with these calorie values in mind. Losing weight too quickly can place too much stress on your body, and it’s difficult to maintain the extreme eating and exercise habits.

    Burning Calories with Exercise

    You can either do daily bouts of cardio workouts that are designed to burn 500 to 1,000 calories, or you can decrease your workout frequency and design each cardio workout to burn more calories. For example, if you were to work out four days per week, in order to lose a pound per week, you’ll want to be sure that your workouts burn at least 750 calories. The type of cardio you participate in will determine the number of calories you burn during your workout. Running is amongst the most effective cardio workouts for burning calories, according to Mayo Clinic.

    Considerations

    In order for your cardio workouts to support your weight-loss efforts, you’ll need to simultaneously participate in a healthy eating plan. Even if you were to work out seven days per week, if you consumed too many calories via the food you eat and fluids you drink, you won’t create the caloric deficit needed to lose fat. You can estimate the calories you should take in per day, or your basal metabolic rate. Women find their value with 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years), and men find theirs with 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).

    About the Author

    Kimberly Nunley has been writing since 2002. She contributes to an online music website, where she reviews albums and conducts artist interviews. As an assistant college coach, Nunley was in charge of the team's website and blog. She also spent seven years working as a personal trainer. Nunley received a Master of Science in kinesiology from California State University.

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