How Much Cardio Do You Really Need?

Lauren Lehmkuhl
How Much Cardio Do You Really Need?

It’s likely that you’ve heard cardio exercise being touted as one of the best forms of exercise for your health at some point in your life.

Well, it turns out that there’s a good reason for that!

While all types of exercise are beneficial for different reasons, research shows that getting your heart pumping daily can have some immense benefits for your health. 

So, how much cardio should you do daily? Let’s find out! 

How Much Cardio Should I Do?

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes a recommendation for cardio exercise? 

They suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. You can think of this as approximately 30 minutes a session, five days a week! With busy schedules, it can sometimes be hard to fit this into your week. However, you can still get the benefits of cardio when this daily allotment is broken up throughout the day. 

For example, if it’s easier for you to do a 10 -15 minute block of exercise at a time, you can still reach your daily goal and gain the benefits of cardio.

How Would This Look?

After you wake up, do 10 minutes of exercise before breakfast. During your lunch break, take 10 minutes to do an additional workout. Then, before or after dinner, do another 10 minutes! 

This turns 30 minutes of exercise into a much more manageable task. It also gives you the benefit of movement throughout your day to help boost your mood and keep you focused. 

You could also get this done by splitting up your exercise into two 15-minute increments, morning and evening. If you are more ambitious and have no problem reaching 30 minutes in one setting, then you can knock this out easily! 

Whatever your weekly total ends up being for cardio, the goal is to get approximately 30 minutes per day. Of course, there are some days you might want to rest completely, which is why the recommendation for health hovers around 5 days per week. 

If you prefer doing longer exercises in one setting, that’s also a great option! This could mean two 75-minute sessions or three 50-minute sessions. Sometimes it's nice to do more at one time, but make sure that you aren’t doing more than your body can handle. Or, if you enjoy playing sports games throughout the week this amount at a time may make more sense.

Want more of a challenge that may earn you even stronger health benefits? Try upping your weekly exercise average to 300 minutes. The more exercise the better, but just make sure that if you are doing a lot of intense exercises you are taking rest days, stretching adequately, and doing other calming movements to support your adrenal health. 

What is Cardio Exercise?

Cardio exercise can come in many forms and generally refers to getting your heart rate into the aerobic zone of 70-80%. 

Usually, when you feel your heart pumping harder and your body starting to sweat, you are getting cardio exercise. 

Some examples of cardio exercises include: 

  • Jogging/running
  • Power walking
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Jump roping
  • Swimming
  • Using the treadmill or elliptical
  • Dancing
  • Playing basketball, tennis, or soccer
  • Skiing or snowboarding
  • Skateboarding, roller skating, or ice skating
  • Kickboxing
  • Surfing
  • Water aerobics 
  • Playing outside with your kids

Do you see any on this list that interests you? Do you notice that they aren’t all “workouts” or exercises that you do in the gym?

What’s great about cardio exercise is that there might be many ways that you already do it in your everyday life if you enjoy sports or being active. Or, it could even include your commute to work! 

If you have the option to bike, run, or skate somewhere that you go in your daily routine, take advantage of the opportunity to use that time for both transit AND exercise. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! 

Build Routines!

Didn’t get in the exercise that you wanted to during the week and now it’s the weekend? Go dancing! Or, spend a day off outside hiking or swimming if the weather allows and if you have access to the right places for these activities. 

There are so many ways you can be creative with fitting cardio into your daily regimen without having to purchase a gym membership. 

If you don’t know where to get started and want to do a workout in the comfort of your home, remember that you can always search YouTube for a wide array of workout videos. What’s great about YouTube is that there are so many short videos, making them an easy addition to your day! 

Why Should I Do Cardio?

You might be wondering - do I really need to do cardio? Is it that important for health?

The answer is yes! While ANY exercise is important, cardio does offer incredible health benefits. 

Unfortunately, the sedentary lifestyle that modern life now caters to can have detrimental effects on our bodies and can lead to many diseases. 

Our bodies were meant to move often and now we have to make a bit more of an effort to do this, depending on our line of work, lifestyle habits, and time. 

Here are just a few benefits of cardio:

  • It can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and hypertension
  • It can lower the risk of diabetes and Alzheimer's
  • It can alleviate depression and reduce anxiety, leading to lower stress levels
  • It can enhance sleep quality
  • It can increase your lung capacity, allowing you to take deeper, restorative beats that calm your nervous system
  • It burns calories, allowing you to lose weight quicker
  • It can improve sexual function 
  • It can increase bone density when paired with weight-bearing exercise 
  • It can improve digestion
  • It can support hormone health

These are just some of the amazing benefits that we know of and scientists are learning more about how exercise impacts our bodies all the time. 

Need any more reasons to start including cardio in your week?

In Conclusion

Starting a workout routine can be hard, and we’re here to support you with that! 

Adding cardio into your week is just one of the great practices you can add into your week to positively impact your health. 

Getting about 30 minutes of exercise per day or 150 minutes per week is the ideal goal for a wide variety of health benefits. 

Always remember that you can reach out to your Vessel nutritionist for help with things like finding ways to add more cardio into your week, figuring out how much cardio you should do per day, or any other wellness tips you may be looking for!  

What gets your heart rate up?