Cardiovascular workouts are positively critical for your overall health and physical wellbeing.
Performing cardio workouts on a regular basis is directly linked to a longer, healthier, happier life (thank you, serotonin boost).
It’s also taxing on your body, which is what we’re going to be talking about today.
Most cardio exercise is very high impact, meaning it stresses out your body, and if you’re trying to lose a lot of weight in the process, it can actually damage your heart by pushing yourself too hard, and too quickly.
Low intensity cardio helps to take the strain off of your joints and knees.
Because most traditional cardio methods, such as running or jogging can be very damaging, adopting a low intensity cardio workout regimen can help reduce all that bodily stress, and decrease your likelihood of enduring long-term harm over time.
We’re not only going to tell you the health-related benefits of low intensity cardio, but also go over some of the most powerful low intensity cardio exercises so you can get started with this today.
- What is Low Intensity Cardio?
- Benefits of Low Intensity Cardio
- Examples of Low Intensity Cardio Workouts
- Low Intensity Cardio vs HIIT
- Switch Up Your Cardio Game
What is Low Intensity Cardio?
Low intensity cardio is the polar opposite to high intensity cardio. It’s like the comparison between VIIT and HIIT training methods.
At a lower level of intensity, you’re not burning as many calories as you could, but you are burning as many calories as your current health and body will allow, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
While it’s not sought after as much as high intensity cardio, low intensity cardio reduces your overall strain on your ligaments, joints, and your entire body, while also offering a lower threshold of progress.
You will still progress in your quest for better personal health and fitness, it will just be a bit slower.
So why do people choose this?
Because if we were all physically capable of just starting high intensity cardio right off rip, then we would all be doing it.
The truth is, any intensity level of working out is difficult.
It’s not an easy thing to get started with, and starting with low intensity cardio can be better for you.
Low intensity cardio is also low risk. Overdoing it and pushing yourself past your limits is never a good thing, yet a lot of us get stuck on a training regimen, and fail to meet the requirements.
It crushes our self-esteem, it ruins the training experience, and gives us a bad taste for training and physical fitness.
Those types of training methods may be good for some people, but they can be completely toxic for other people, speaking in a metaphorical sense.
If you aren’t comfortable or are unable to do high intensity cardio training, such as forty-five minute spin classes or jogging for six miles, low intensity cardio is where to start.
LIC uses a blend of dynamic movements and motion that emulate HIC workouts, but with an added twist.
This takes a lot of these workouts down just a notch or two, and pro-rates it to your current physical capabilities.
Over time, you can increase your intensity and graduate to high intensity cardio once you’ve reached a certain skill and confidence level.
Benefits of Low Intensity Cardio
Cardio gets your heart pumping faster, which can lead to some serious health benefits.
However, if you’re here because you want to use low intensity cardio to help reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, you’re in luck.
It’s a fantastic way to lower those risks, but there are more benefits to take hold of.
Your blood produces something called LDL, which can create issues for your heart.
It makes your heart work harder, and turns simple chores into daunting tasks.
Because LDL exists in your blood, and you have systems in place to clean your blood, it can be expelled through urine and bodily waste.
Low intensity cardio gently stimulates the areas in your blood vessels that create LDL, and reduces the volume that is produced.
Working out is also associated with more frequent urination and movements, meaning you’re accelerating the depletion of LDL in your body while also preventing too much from being made.
Safe, Gradual Weight Loss
It’s not good to lose weight too quickly. If you’re coming down from a high weight, you may see some big numbers at first, but those will slow down.
You want to maintain a slow and gradual weight loss schedule to prevent the appearance of loose skin and harming your metabolism.
Thankfully, low intensity cardio is a safe way to approach weight loss.
Reducing Physical Stress on the Body
Technically, working out puts stress on your body, but it works different from feeling stressed.
We’ve all been stressed out, whether it’s a bad day of work or family members that are bothing us.
Well that stress manifests itself in the form of inflammation and physical damage, and since working out—even through low intensity cardio—can drastically reduce the effects of stress on your body, partially due to the production of feel-good hormones in the brain, it works to combat that damage.
Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Ideally, if you are at-risk for diabetes, as over 100 million Americans are, it would be best to just snap your fingers and have all that weight vanish.
However, since it doesn’t work that way, you can gradually repair damage to your body with low intensity cardio exercise.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the way your pancreas creates insulin, which combats excessive blood sugar and regulates your blood sugar on a day-to-day basis, and has serious health consequences associated with it.
Examples of Low Intensity Cardio Workouts
Low intensity does not necessarily mean low impact, so some of these will have higher impact ratings than others.
The main goal here is to slightly elevate your heart rate to begin burning calories, but not to overdo it. This is how it’s done.
Yes, the most obvious and possibly most boring low intensity cardio exercise you could possibly do is walking.
You can go around the block a few times, you can take thirty minutes a day and go down the boardwalk by the beach.
Walking is not very labor-intensive, which is the entire idea.
Going on a walk is better for you than sitting down at home, and there’s no excuse to not go on a walk, save for extreme weather conditions.
If you have the ability, get a treadmill for your home and only use it on the lowest settings to emulate a great walking experience.
Rowing machines are excellent full-body workouts that get blood flowing from all appendages, and just makes you feel fantastic when you’re down.
However, rowing too hard can cause problems if you’re currently fighting off some form of disease that impairs your ability to exercise, or are trying to lose excessive weight.
Using a rowing machine with air resistance allows you to only receive as much resistance as you put into the machine, effectively putting you in complete control of the intensity.
There are two types of yoga: that which relaxes, and that which excites.
Some people use yoga class as a full-body workout, and burn hundreds of calories doing it.
They come out dripping with sweat and come down off of an adrenaline high.
It’s good that they can do that, but it’s not for everyone.
Low intensity yoga is designed to get your blood flowing, get you stretching dozens of muscle zones, but it doesn’t put a major strain on your body, either.
As a pro tip, if you’re thinking about signing up for a local yoga class, call them ahead of time and see how intense the classes can get.
Request a beginner’s class to keep intensity low, and the benefits high.
Swimming both acts as the most low impact cardio exercise known to man, as well as one of the most fun and potentially low intensity cardio workouts ever.
Swimmers can take it at their own pace; there’s no right or wrong way to do this, because the point is that you’re in the water and moving around.
Swimming is one of the best ways to tone your body while slimming down; you can burn hundreds of calories in an hour in the pool, and because it’s so low intensity, you can swim for two to three hours without putting any major strain on your heart.
It’s the perfect solution, so long as you don’t try to go Michael Phelps for the entire distance of the pool over and over again.
Use an Elliptical
Ellipticals aren’t my first choice of cardio personally, but you can’t deny the low intensity and low impact benefits of them.
These can get your body moving a lot, create dynamic movement patterns, and keep you in shape by burning a good amount of calories per hour.
Because it’s low intensity, it’s also low impact, so you’re not going to do much to your knees or joints in the process of using an elliptical.
That being said, these are not the most effective ways of practicing cardio, so as time goes on and your ability to handle higher intensity workouts increase, you’re going to want to graduate from ellipticals.
We’re getting into some calisthenic workouts here.
These are low intensity at first, but after a while it’s alarming to know how heavy the human leg can be on its own when you’re using it to support its own weight.
All you have to do is lay on the floor, flat on your back, and pull your knees back.
Your calf should be resting like a plan in midair, just hanging there, for ten seconds at a time.
After a while, this is going to feel tedious as can be, but it’s going to burn a lot of calories without putting you through high intensity workouts.
It’s not easy, I’ll say that, but it’s very effective since you’re using an amount of weight that you already know you can handle: your own body.
You might curse me for this one, but they’re very effective.
You’re not doing anything too intense; it’s just moving your body in a downward lunge to the lowest point that you can take it.
Hold it there, count to three, and pull back up, then alternate to your other leg.
Repeat this as much as you can. You’re going to feel it in your calf muscles, but it’s going to be beyond worth it.
Low Intensity Cardio vs HIIT
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, which is the exact opposite of what we’ve been talking about for this entire post.
I will say this right now: HIIT is probably the most effective, universal method for anyone to lose extreme weight, tone their body, and become more aesthetic while also becoming healthy.
That being said, low intensity workouts are all about being steady to reach an end goal.
You might remember the popularized 3:00 AM infomercial for P90X, the absolutely insane-looking HIIT training program (back when we ordered DVDs via the phone).
High intensity interval training requires you to do dynamic movements and intense cardio for stretches of one, two, and three minutes before getting a small break.
It’s effective, it’s something you should aim to do at some point, but it’s damaging on your joints if you aren’t already within a healthy BMI range, or at least in throwing distance of one.
Low intensity cardio work still gives you all those great benefits we talked about earlier, just at a slower pace.
It would be great if all of us could just pick up HIIT training one day, do it flawlessly, and reap the rewards right away.
The thing is, a lot of people begin HIIT and quit it within 14 days.
Do you know why?
Because they bite off more than they can chew. It’s not a simple program or exercise methodology to adopt, by any means.
It’s very strenuous, and it can sometimes skip proper form and core motions that would train your body better.
LIIT, or low intensity interval training, is a way to nail down the proper form for HIIT exercises without having to worry about speed.
You’re not counting reps, you’re ensuring you have the right stance, posture, and that you’re doing the moves in a full range of motion.
Otherwise, you’re just jumping around and not engaging the right muscles.
I would say that even if you are decently physically fit or slim/slender, and you’re reading this, that you should start with LIIT before ever upgrading to HIIT.
This little section was not to demean or break down either LIIT or HIIT; it’s just to show the contrast, and that it can be dangerous to engage in HIIT workouts if you don’t already know what you’re doing.
Start with low intensity, work your way up to moderate, and I promise you that it will be easier to then graduate to high intensity instead of hitting the ground running, and hoping it sticks.
Performing your cardio properly will eventually lead to solid habits, which you won’t even have to think about—you’ll just be performing these moves the right way, and ensuring success for the future of your physical fitness.
Switch Up Your Cardio Game
If you’ve been running and tiring yourself out, and you’re just fatigued the very next day, you might be pushing it too far.
Low intensity cardio can still bring you a lot of the great health-related benefits of high intensity cardio, and still help you lose weight in the process.
While there is a place for high intensity cardio and it does have some extended benefits over low intensity, everyone is built different and has different tolerances.
If you’re finding that cardio has become more of a chore or a grievance than anything else, I urge you to try out some low intensity cardio workouts to see if you can change the game.