The best cardio exercise is simply the one you will do day in and day out consistently. Choose one which you enjoy doing and don't be afraid to mix the exercises up. Interval cardio work consists of moving from one exercise to another in set time intervals. For example, you could do the elliptical trainer for 15 minutes, then switch to the stationary bike for another 15 minutes and finish off on the treadmill for the last 15 minutes. Interval training is a great way to keep everything fresh! Remember the goal is to Live Fit and Healthy so find an exercise program that is fun and you enjoy.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to cardio training; "slow & steady" and "high intensity". These two groups breakdown like this:
Slow & Steady Cardio
• Long duration (45min - 1 hour)
• Low intensity
• Burn fat and not carbs
• Preserve joints
High Intensity Cardio
• Short duration (20min - 30min)
• High intensity (interval training)
• Burn tons of calories & rev up your metabolism throughout the day
• Treat cardio like weights - explosive movements (sprinting, etc)
Which Cardio Exercise Burns the Most Calories?
Below are the top 10 cardio exercises which burn the most calories in 30 minutes.
- Step Aerobics - one of the most favorite cardio exercises preferred by women. Step Aerobics mainly target your legs, hips and glutes, and can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Bicycling - stationary or outdoors is a great cardio exercises, depending on resistance and speed you can burn 250 to 500 calories in 30 minutes.
- Swimming - swimming is a great cross-training for other cardio activities. Doing the breast stroke can burn approx. 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Racquetball - side to side sprinting makes racquetball an excellent cardio exercises. A 145-LB person burns over 400 calories in 30 minutes.
- Rock Climbing - is not only a cardio exercises, but also uses arm and leg strength and power. Rock Climbing can burn up to 380 calories in 30 minutes.
- Cross-country Skiing - whether on a machine or outdoors on snow, this is an incredible cardio exercises as it involves both upper and lower body. A 145 LB person can burn approx 330 calories in 30 minutes.
- Running - Running is an excellent cardio exercises because all you need is a pair of quality running shoes. Running burns serious calories. A 145 LB person can easily burn 300 calories in 30 minutes.
- Elliptical Trainer - is an excellent cardio exercises and a great way to build endurance. A 145 LB person can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
- Rowing - is both a cardio exercises as well as giving your arms an incredible workout. 145 LB person can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
- Walking - Brisk walking is a less strenuous form of cardio exercises. Walking can burn up to 180 calories in 30 minutes. Sprinting, adding hills or an incline can increase amount of calories burned.
For the real high intensity cardio people out there who love the H.I.I.T (High Intensity Interval Training), below are the top three cardio exercise which will provide amazing results!
- Jumping Rope - This is one of the simplest, yet most effective exercises one can do. In just 15 to 20 minutes, jumping rope will give you an unparalleled total body workout. Jumping rope is ideal for cardiovascular endurance and enhances performance in virtually any sport - tennis, basketball, football, skiing, volleyball and more. This simple exercise is also great for eye-hand coordination, lateral movement, foot and hand speed, and agility. If you have trouble jumping rope, jump without a rope until your muscle memory develops. Pretend you have a rope in your hand and turn your wrist and jump as if you were actually jumping a rope.
- Sprinting - Sprinting not only burns HUGE amounts of calories, it also keeps your metabolism flying for days after. Sprinting combined with running / jogging can bring amazing results. If you can get to the local school track, try sprinting the straight-aways, and jogging the curves. If you have to walk the curves, that’s ok too, just walk briskly so you heart beat doesn’t drop too much.
- Spinning - These high-intensity workouts to music simulate a challenging bike ride, complete with hills, valleys and varying speeds, all dictated by the group instructor.
I’ve found that exercising with a partner or group pushes/motivates me, holds me accountable, and a good social activity. If you are person that needs an extra push, try exercising with a “well motivated” friend or group.