How Much Cardio Do You Need to Lose Weight? No B.S Answer

When you’re trying to lose weight you’ll probably stick to some type of diet plan and do some exercise. Cardio exercise is one of the best ways to burn off calories when you’re trying to slim down but you may not know how much cardio to do. The amount of cardio to lose weight varies with each person and it also depends on your circumstances.

Most fitness trainers recommend that healthy adults do 45 to 60 minutes of cardio exercise at least five days per week to see results. In some cases you may be able to increase the length of the sessions as long as your body can take it. The experts recommend that you alternate between low and high-intensity cardio for the best results.

To lose weight at a steady rate a healthy male should consume 2000 calories per day combined with some cardio exercise. Females should consume around 1500 calories per day as well as exercising to lose weight. You should be aiming to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week and studies have concluded that regular exercise contributes to weight loss.

Before you start a cardio exercise regime you should consult your doctor to make sure the workouts aren’t going to be harmful. The workouts may not be suitable if you have certain medical conditions. If you’re new to cardio you should start with some gentle exercises before increasing the intensity of your daily workout.

Below is a short YouTube video highlighting the benefits of exercise and showing you how to calculate your maximum heart rate:

What Is Cardio?

Cardio is any type of physical exercise that increases your heart rate. The heart is a muscle and doing cardio strengthens the heart and the cells in your muscles then receive more blood. The muscle cells will then burn off fat during periods of activity and rest.

There are various types of cardio exercise and you can select the activity that’s most suitable for you. There are some gentle exercises that increase the heart rate as well as some very intensive workouts. Walking, running, cycling, swimming and circuit training are all forms of cardio exercise.

One of the great things about cardio exercise is that you don’t have to join a gym and pay monthly fees to do it. For walking, running or swimming you won’t need any fancy equipment or special clothing. As long as you have a decent pair of walking or running shoes you can do your workout at a convenient time.

Let’s have a look at some of the cardio workouts and find out how many calories you can expect to burn off.


Walking is the easiest way to do a cardio workout and you can do it virtually anywhere that’s open to the public. Taking a 30-minute brisk walk on flat ground will burn off around 120 calories. If you find a route that has some steep inclines you’ll need to work a little harder and more calories can be burned.

You can also try power walking which is an intensive exercise that’s great for burning calories. Power walking will definitely get your heart pumping as well as working the leg, arm and back muscles. A 30-minute power walk on even ground will burn off approximately 200 calories.


Running is also a great way to burn off calories when you’re trying to lose excess bodyweight. If you go for a 30-minute road jog at a steady pace you can expect to burn off approximately 250 calories. If you increase the pace or distance you’ll burn off a lot more calories.

Cross-country running is another great way to burn off some calories and most neighborhoods have some off-road areas. Running on uneven ground with some inclines will give your body a good workout. A 60-minute cross-country run is great for building leg muscle mass and it can burn off as many as 400 calories.


Cycling is another great form of exercise and it’s a great way to get the heart pumping. If you go for a one-hour road bike ride at a speed of 10 miles per hour you’ll burn off around 300 calories. A two-hour ride at the same speed will burn off around 650 calories.

As well as cycling on the road you can also mountain bike which is an excellent form of cardio exercise. You’ll have to work much harder when cycling on rough terrain with inclines. If you go for a mountain bike ride for a period of 60 minutes you can expect to burn approximately 500 calories.

If you don’t like the idea of riding a bike out on the streets you can use a static bike in your home or at the gym. Static bikes are useful as you can alter the resistance to suit your particular workout. Many of the static bikes also have computers that record your mileage and calculate calories burned.


Swimming is an excellent way to exercise and as well as raising the heart rate it works most of the body’s muscles. A 30-minute indoor swim will burn off around 225 calories increasing to 550 calories for a one-hour session in the pool. If you have access to the sea a 30-minute swim will burn of around 350 calories because you’ll have to work harder.

If you’ve decided to do some swimming as part of your exercise regime it’s useful to do some different strokes. Alternating between freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly will really get your heart pumping. By alternating strokes you also ensure that all muscle groups are being worked on.

When you’re swimming in a pool it’s better to do laps than to simply swim widths or lengths. When you are swimming laps your exercise is continuous which keeps your heart pumping at a higher rate. When swimming widths and lengths you may be tempted to pause at regular intervals which needs to be avoided.

Circuit Training

If you use a gym you may already be doing some circuit training which is an excellent form of cardio exercise. When you’re circuit training you’ll be using various machines including treadmills, rowing machines, static bikes and stair climbers. If you are doing circuit training it’s important that you know how to use the machinery to get the best possible results.

You can spend 10 to 15 minutes on each machine which is really going to get your heart pumping. This type of training is quite intense and some care is needed so that you don’t overdo things. Below is an at-a-glance list of cardio machines and the number of calories you can expect to burn per hour:

  • Treadmill; 500 to 1000 calories per hour.
  • Rowing machine; 700 to 1000 calories per hour.
  • Static bike; 500 to 1000 calories per hour.
  • Stair climber; 800 to 1400 calories per hour.

Most of the machines in the gym will have a digital display that shows you how long you’ve been on the machine. The display may also tell you how many calories you’ve burned whilst using the machine. It’s worth noting that the readings are an estimate and they should only be used as a guide.

Will Team Sports Give Me a Cardio Workout?

There are some team sports you can do that will raise your heart rate and give you a cardio workout. Sports such as soccer, ice hockey and water polo are all a great way to workout. You may also find that being in a team motivates you more than working out alone.

Cardio Workouts Can Be Fun

It’s important to find exercises that you enjoy doing so that you don’t get bored and lose your motivation. If working out in a gym isn’t for you or if you’re not comfortable pounding the streets there are some other activities that you can do. Many people do aerobics, aqua aerobics and you can also attend a Zumba class to help you shed some pounds.

Aerobics and Zumba are both a great way to get the heart pumping and these activities can be done by people of all ages. One of the great things about these workouts is that they can be tailored to your fitness level. These workouts not only raise the heart rate to burn fat but they’re also fun and a great way to socialize with others.

Below is a list of cardio exercises that you can do when trying to lose weight:

  • Walking.
  • Running/jogging.
  • Cycling.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming.
  • Circuit training.
  • Dancing.
  • Stair climbing.
  • Weight training.
  • Aerobics/aqua aerobics.
  • Zumba.

Fit Cardio into Your Day-to-Day Life

As well as working out you can also fit some cardio into your daily activities at work or in the home. You can use the stairs instead of taking the elevator and park your car away from work so you have to walk. You could even swap the car for a bicycle and use it to travel to work.

If you use public transport to get to work you can get off the bus or subway one stop before your usual stop. You can then take the short walk to work which will give you a short daily workout. A short workout before work can also give you an energy boost and you may also be sharper and more alert.

Doing things such as housework or gardening will also help to increase your heart rate to burn off some calories. Sweeping, mopping and cutting the lawn with a manual mower will all give you a workout. If you have stairs at home you can use these to exercise by walking up and down them for 15 to 30-minute spells.

Can I Do Cardio If I’m Elderly?

Cardio can benefit the elderly and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do some regular cardio exercise. Going for a daily walk or a gentle morning swim will raise your heart rate at safe levels. If you’re elderly it’s important to stay active and your cardio workout will help with this.

It’s important that you don’t overdo things when you’re elderly and doing your cardio workouts. As we get older our joints and muscles can’t take so much stress as they could when we were younger. As long as you’re sensible with your exercise regime you should get some benefits. Talking to your doctor before trying any new exercise is always recommended.

What Are the Benefits of Cardio?

As well as burning off calories to help you lose weight doing regular cardio workouts has some other benefits. The main benefit is that your heart is going to be stronger and will work more efficiently. When your heart is healthy you reduce the risk of developing heart disease and your chances of having a stroke are also reduced.

Cardio workouts also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol which is beneficial to your overall health. When a decent flow of blood is provided from the heart your blood vessels will be more elastic. The elasticity prevents blood vessels from getting blocked and more oxygen is delivered to your muscles.

Regular cardio workouts can help to boost the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells in your body. Having a healthy immune system is essential to stay fit and healthy. When your immune system is boosted you’ll get fewer colds and your body is more able to fight infections.

Any cardio exercise that’s weight bearing such as weight training and running can help to keep your bones healthy. These exercises increase bone density and the bones may also retain more calcium to make them stronger. Keeping your bones healthy can help to prevent arthritis and rheumatism later in life.

Cardio exercise also reduces stress levels and it may help to combat anxiety and depression. When you exercise your body releases endorphins which can help to lift your mood. You may also feel happier simply because you’re exercising and losing those excess pounds.

Following a period of cardio exercise you’ll also sleep better which is important to maintain a healthy mind and body. When you’re asleep your muscles are recovering and the body is resting. When you’ve had a decent night’s sleep you’ll be more alert and your energy levels are boosted ready for the day ahead.

Warm-up and Cool Down

Before you begin your cardio workout it’s important to prepare your body by doing some warm-up exercises. You should do some stretching to prepare the muscles and ligaments for your cardio workout. Doing a few minutes of gentle exercise will also raise your body temperature ready for your exercise session.

The warm-up will also get your blood flowing so that your muscles are oxygenated. It’s important that your muscles are getting enough oxygenated blood when you’re doing a cardio workout. Muscles that are deprived of oxygen will become tired which may result in strains and other injuries.

Cooling down after you cardio workout is also important and a 5 to 10 minute cool-down period is advisable. If you’ve been walking briskly you can take a 5-minute slow walk to cool down. If you’ve been running you should jog for a few minutes or do a few leisure laps around the pool after an intense swim.

Warming up and cooling down will help to prevent muscular and joint injuries when you’re working out. The warm-up and cool-down exercises also help to prevent muscle cramping. You should also ensure that you’re hydrated before, during and after your cardio workout.

Take a Break

Fitness instructors and personal trainers recommend that you take at least one day per week off from your cardio workouts. Taking a day off will allow your muscles and joints to rest and recover. If you push yourself too hard and don’t take a break you could injure yourself and won’t be able to exercise at all.

When you’re taking a day off there are some things that you can do which help your muscles to recover from your workout. Take a relaxing bath or chill out in a hot tub which is beneficial to your muscles and blood vessels. It can also be worth having a soothing massage which aids blood flow and relaxes tired muscles.

Use Technology to Manage Your Weight Loss

Most of us have busy lives and it can sometimes be difficult to get motivated and do our daily workouts. There are some gadgets and apps that can help to motivate you and they also help you to monitor your weight loss and workouts. You don’t have to spend a fortune on technology and some of the smartphone apps are free.

If you’ve decided to take up walking then a pedometer is a great way to record how many steps you take. You can clip on the pedometer which will count your steps and work out how many calories you’ve burned. Having a visual confirmation of your achievements may motivate and encourage you.

The smartphone apps are a great way to monitor and record your workouts when trying to lose weight. Some of the apps are simple calorie calculators and others will allow you to input your information. You can input the exercises you’re doing, the duration of the session, and the app will work out how many calories you’ve burned.

There’s also software that you can use to plan your workouts which is a useful way to manage your weight loss. After submitting details such as gender, age, height and bodyweight the software will do some calculations. The software can then tell you how many calories you should eat and how much cardio to do to lose weight.

Ask the Experts

If you’re unsure about what type of cardio exercise you should be doing you can ask a fitness instructor or personal trainer. These qualified professionals are able to advise you and tell you which exercises you need to do. Trainers can work with people of all ages and they’re particularly useful if you’re new to cardio workouts.

Fitness instructors and trainers will first assess you and record your bodyweight so that they can prepare your workout schedule. Once you’ve been assessed the experts can tailor your workout to your specific needs. This ensures that you’ll be doing the correct type of cardio workout.

Working with a fitness instructor or personal trainer may also help you to get motivated. When you’ve got your trainer encouraging you to do a few more circuits or an extra mile on the bike it can help. Many people also find that it’s better to work out with someone else rather than exercising alone.

Can I Continue Cardio When I’ve Reached My Target Weight?

When you’ve reached your target weight you can continue your cardio workouts to maintain a healthy bodyweight. You may be able to cut down on the intensity of the workouts but you’ll still need to monitor how many calories you burn. You’ll also have to monitor your daily calorie intake which will help you to plan your workouts.

Continuing with cardio workouts will not only maintain your weight it’ll also keep you physically fit. We all know the importance of keeping fit to maintain a healthy mind and body. Your regular cardio workouts will keep you in shape and help to prevent any future weight gain.

The Last Word…

There’s no definitive answer to how much cardio you need to do to lose weight as each individual varies. Age, fitness levels and starting weight all need to be taken into account before calculations are made. The basic rule is that if you’re burning off more calories than you’re consuming you’ll lose weight.

When you’ve decided to lose weight and do some cardio exercises there are some important things to remember. Eat a balanced diet that contains plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables so that you get essential nutrients. You also need to monitor your intake of protein and carbohydrates and you should eat foods that contain omega-3.

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