As you age, you may notice that higher-intensity workouts are harder on your body and leave you in pain. Incorporating low-intensity cardio workouts as you age is absolutely something to embrace and definitely not feel guilty about.
After all, staying fit is more about finding a form of exercise you enjoy enough to be consistent with than feeling like you need to always “punish” your body with hardcore workouts.
The truth is, though, that everyone can benefit from low-intensity cardio workouts, no matter what stage of life you’re in. If you get in a hardcore HIIT workout every day we applaud you; however, you need to give your body a break no matter your age. You can’t put your body through the same type of rigorous workouts day in and day out—it will start to crave a different form of movement.
An indoor walking workout, a long walk with friends, a bike ride on a sunny day, or time spent on the elliptical at a steady pace are all great workouts that are less intense but still burn calories, get your heart pumping, and help you stay physically fit.
So whether you’re dealing with the aches and pains of aging, recovering from an illness, or helping your muscles recover in between more intense workouts, consider adding a low-intensity workout or two into your weekly routine.
What is Low-Intensity Exercise?
Low-Intensity Steady State exercise calls for 30-60 minutes spent at the fat-burning rate of 60% of the maximal heart-rate effort. At this level of intensity, you can work out for longer periods of time and build endurance—not necessarily raw strength. Think: a long walk or bike ride, using the elliptical or rowing machine at the gym, etc.
Consider LISS workouts to be the opposite of HIIT workouts. During HIIT, your aim is to get your heart pumping and your body working hard. You are pushing yourself to the limits with short bursts of all-out effort followed by brief periods of rest.
But with LISS workouts, you’re keeping your heart rate steady as you perform a less intense form of exercise consistently—for at least 30 minutes.
Benefits of Low-Intensity Workouts
Yes, higher intensity workouts will typically burn more calories, but less intense forms of exercise do still burn calories and fat. While we’re not claiming that a daily 30-minute walk will give you six-pack abs (you need to build muscle and mix it up to lose weight and carve out your muscles), less-intense workouts do burn fat—especially the longer you spend doing them. Low-intensity cardio has tons of other great benefits, too! Here are just a few:
- Aids in fat burning and fat loss
- Improves cardiovascular function
- Builds muscular endurance — through a high number of repetitions at a low resistance
- Boosts circulation
- Improves mood
- Appropriate for all fitness levels
- Great for recovery – think day after a difficult workout
Many types of low-intensity cardio workouts can also be done anytime, anywhere. From long walks to bike rides and everything in between, they’re low maintenance and often give you a chance to reconnect with nature and find some joy in what you’re doing.
Low-intensity exercise won’t necessarily build raw strength or turn you into a calorie-burning machine like a HIIT workout would—but it still burns calories, builds endurance, and benefits your body in a host of other ways.
We hope you’re starting to see that less intense forms of exercise are nothing to feel guilty about; on the contrary, it’s a great way to get a workout in if your body needs a break, or you simply can’t do a more intense workout due to your age, an injury, or even preference.
Why Indoor Walking is One of the Best Cardio Workouts
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Have you gotten your steps in for the day?
How many steps a day should we get it?
These are common questions we ask ourselves daily because we know how important it is to get our steps in and move our bodies!
After all, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that we all get 10,000 steps in per day! In fact, walking 10,000 steps per day can cut your risk of dementia by 50%. And what if I told you there was a way to accomplish these 10,000 steps anytime, anywhere while having a whole lot of fun doing it?!
Now you can, in the comfort of your own home! All you need for an indoor walking workout is a comfortable pair of walking shoes and the motivation to click play with me and my team over at Get Healthy U TV! From 10 minutes, 15 minutes, all the way up to 5,000 step walking workout – we have it all ready for you to follow along with us!
What You Need to Know About Indoor Walking
Indoor walking, also known as marching or stepping, is the base move for any indoor walking workout. But prepare yourself because there is SO much more you can do!
Here are some fun variations that can making indoor walking fun while adding more steps to your step count:
- Side Steps
- Step Touches
- Front Kicks
- Glute Squeezes (hamstring curls)
- Knee Lifts
You may even get the option to add your own flare of arm movements along the way! The more you move, the more you pick up your feet, the higher the intensity which burns more calories!
And the best part about any indoor walking workout is that while you move and sweat, everything is low impact on the joints. So let’s get moving and stepping together and have some fun along the way with our low-intensity cardio workouts on Get Healthy U TV!
Here are our favorite low-intensity workouts to incorporate into your weekly routine:
The Hidden Benefit of Low-Intensity Workouts
While we’ve talked at length about the physical benefits of less intense workouts, there’s one more thing you should consider: the mental benefits. So often, we think we have to push our bodies to the limits. But the “no pain, no gain” mentality isn’t always healthy.
A less intense workout every now and then is not only physically restorative but mentally restorative, too, helping you reconnect with your body in a form of movement that feels more natural to you. Working out to your limits each and every day can lead to burnout and irritability, and although those HIIT classes can be addictive, it pays to slow things down and give your body a less intense form of movement.
At the end of the day, you don’t need to feel guilty when you “just take a walk.” LISS exercise can and should be a big part of your workout plan. A nice long walk, a bike ride in your neighborhood, an elliptical workout, paddle boarding, or an easy, fun dance class that makes you happy are all wonderful low-intensity steady-state options.
When it comes to getting consistent exercise, the most important thing is to find workouts that work for you. No matter what stage of life you’re in, exercise doesn’t always have to be intense or painful to be beneficial.
Embrace less-intense workouts and you’ll come to appreciate exercise for what it is: a lifestyle—not a punishment, a fad, or something that always has to leave you feeling sore the next day.
More Low-Intensity Cardio Workouts
There are more great ways to get a low-intensity cardio workout in—the possibilities are endless! Whether you’re reconnecting with the great outdoors or want to get your workout in at the gym, here are some additional low-intensity workout options: