There are many different recommendations regarding how often women should do cardio, and you may get a different answer depending on who you ask. In reality, your personal exercise routine depends on several factors, including your level of health and your personal fitness goals. Over time, your goals and level of fitness may change and affect your cardio routine.
For General Health
For general good health, it's important to incorporate cardio work several times a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least two and a half hours per week of moderate aerobic exercise. You can break up that 150 minutes of aerobic activity into increments that are manageable for you and your lifestyle, if necessary. You can do 30 minutes of cardio five days a week, 10 minutes of cardio three times a day for five days, or you can do 50 minutes three times a week.
For Fitness and Weight Loss
If you are working toward a specific fitness goal, such as training for a marathon or other sports event, or if you are actively trying to lose weight, your cardio recommendations may differ. Your doctor or personal trainer can give you specific suggestions based on your health and physical needs, but a trainer may have you do 30 minutes to an hour or more of cardio and strength training five and seven days a week. Additionally, the CDC recommends including 300 minutes of cardio per week for even greater health benefits such as weight loss and heart health.
Types of Cardio
Traditional cardio includes running, biking, swimming and sports like tennis, soccer, basketball or hockey. You can also include nontraditional cardio activities like mowing the lawn or cleaning the house. The key is to increase your heart rate and oxygen intake during your cardio activity. Personal Trainer Kim Ogorek recommends working between 60 and 90 percent of your maximum heart rate for cardio fitness. A heart-rate monitor, which you can purchase at any sports equipment store, can help you work at the optimum for your individual body type, size and age.
The CDC also recommends incorporating strength training along with your cardiovascular exercise. Strength training includes any type of resistance exercise such as lifting weights. Resistance training can help you build your muscles, burn calories and maintain bone health. Aim for strength training at least two times per week, continue until you feel muscle fatigue and alternate working the muscles of your arms, chest, back, legs and abdomen.
Sara Melone is a mother of three and a graduate of UNH. With prior careers in insurance and finance, photography, as well as certifications in fitness and nutrition, Melone draws directly from past experience and varying interests. She contributes with equal passion to birth journals, investment blogs, and self-help websites.