It's no secret in the fitness industry that cardio exercises such as jogging and cycling can help you shed a few extra pounds. Common sense would have you believe that more is better, but that isn't always the case. In fact, doing too much cardio could actually result in lower weight-loss numbers than moderate bouts on the treadmill.
Benefits of Cardio
Generally, any exercise that keeps your heart rate below 80 percent of its maximum puts you in the aerobic heart zone. You can burn calories here and exercise for a long time. Exercising moderately, you can also improve your immune system, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, strengthen your heart and improve your mood.
Although cardio training has tons of benefits, moderation is the key. Personal trainer JJ Virgin claims that excess cardio can burn muscle tissue away, raise stress hormones, lower your immune system and lead to burnout and fatigue. Virgin says this explains why some cardio freaks have difficulty losing a substantial amount of weight by killing themselves on the treadmill. They're really doing more harm than good.
According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, exercising for moderate bouts throughout the week could be more beneficial for weight loss than doubling the intensity and training time. At the end of the 12-week study, subjects who performed cardio exercises for 30 minutes per workout lost slightly more weight than those who ran for twice as long. Additionally, subjects who exercised for longer durations also experienced a higher rate of illness and fatigue.
Findings have not been concrete regarding how much cardio is too much, but you should consider optimizing your workout routine with other forms of exercise to give you a balanced system of weight loss. Anaerobic exercises such as resistance training and sprinting can help you burn even more calories than cardio, since they benefit from a tried-and-true aferburn effect that continues to eat away at excess fat long after you're done working out.
- Brian Mac Sports Coach: Heart Rate Training Zones
- Mayo Clinic: Aerobic Exercise -- Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
- American Journal of Physiology: Body Fat Loss and Compensatory Mechanisms in Response to Different Doses of Aerobic Exercise -- A Randomized Controlled Trial in Overweight Sedentary Males
- Body Building: 5 Forgotten Fat Loss Tips
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.