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Low Intensity or High Intensity for Fat Loss? Is Low Impact or High Impact Cardio Best for Fast Weight Loss?
The amount of information on the internet about the type of exercise needed to lose weight is mind-boggling. Does the exercise have to be very high intensity and a lot of hard work, or is low intensity best? What about high intensity interval training (HIIT)?
It is common knowledge that more calories expended than consumed equals weight loss, so the simple plan to lose weight is: eat less, move more. But why are those simple mathematics so difficult to get right?
There are two approaches to working out: high intensity, and low intensity.
The Benefits of a High Intensity Workout
In a high intensity workout, a higher number of calories are burned over a shorter period of time. Since the way to lose weight is to burn more calories than consumed, this will definitely lead to weight loss, if done consistently.
However — and here’s the science — when the body is working intensively, at a fast pace, the energy used is something called glycogen, a carbohydrate found in the muscles. That means most of the calories burnt will be carbohydrates, along with some fat.
But since the body will be burning a large proportion of calories using this method, it will lead to weight loss. It will also take a shorter amount of time to burn a larger amount of calories.
The Benefits of a Low Intensity Workout
In a low intensity cardio workout, 85% of the calories burned will be from fat stored in the body. This means that a low intensity workout is better for burning more fat calories. However, because the workout won’t be as intensive, the body will burn a smaller amount of calories. So it will take a longer amount of time to burn the same calories as in the shorter high intensity workout.
For a low intensity workout to be most effective, the body needs to be working within 60 to 70% of its maximum heart rate. That sounds confusing, but is simple to calculate. A person’s target heart range is easily calculated by simply searching the internet for a heart rate calculator, and entering their age. The maximum heart rate will be returned. Then, to find out what 60-70% of that heart rate is, simply multiply the maximum heart rate by .60 or .70.
If workout is done at a gym, keeping up with your heart rate is easy, as most cardio machines are equipped with heart rate monitors. If workout is done at home or outside, a heart rate monitor can be found for as little as £5/$8 on sites such as Amazon.
So, now that the two cardio options are explored, has anything been made clearer? Aren’t both workouts equally effective?
The answer is, yes, the workouts are equally effective. Which one a person chooses to do will be decided by a variety of factors.
Which Exercise is Right for Me?
If a person is short on time and has the will power to do a high intensity workout — such as running — five days a week, then they should do so. By running or jogging quickly for half an hour a day, five days a week, good weight loss will occur.
However, if a person is low on will power, and doesn’t like strenuous activity, then the low intensity option is for them. Most people find that fitting a brisk walk into their day is easy to commit to. A brisk walk (breathing should be faster, but still able to speak easily), for 30 minutes to an hour a day, five days a week, will achieve weight loss.
Losing weight is easier than it seems. The cardio a person chooses mixed with eating sensibly will produce weight loss. If a person can commit to a long-term weight loss plan most days of the week, they will see results, and quickly.