What is LISS cardio? | Live Science

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We all know cardio is good for us, but what is LISS cardio? Even if you know the acronym, you might be wondering how this specific style of exercise can improve your fitness and help you reach your health goals.

LISS stands for “low intensity steady state” and is a cardio method that is the opposite of high intensity interval training (HIIT). Hard and fast HIIT workouts are an effective way to burn fat and build endurance in minimal time, but they’re not the only way to get fitter and leaner. If HIIT is the hare, think of LISS as the turtle – taking a slow, steady approach to burning calories and improving cardiovascular health.

In this article, we’ll give you information about LISS cardio and explain the science behind its health gains. Following the advice of our experts, we will also suggest ways to add this exercise to your routine. Whether you want to train at home on one of the best rowing machines or go for a hike, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it.

What is LISS cardio? What would you like to know

The American Heart Association recommends doing 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week, to improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of obesity and its negative health effects. LISS cardio can help with this weekly goal to ensure you stay healthy. Plus, this is the kind of exercise you are likely to support.

“Unlike HIIT workouts which are ‘boom and bust’ – using short periods of intense exercise followed by periods of rest, LISS is best described as a ‘low and slow’ form of cardiovascular training,” the physicist said. and fitness expert Alexander MacDonald. Science told Live Science. “LISS cardio is when you train at a steady, sustained pace over a longer period of time.”

Typically, this “constant pace” means that you are exercising with an elevated heart rate at 50% to 65% of your maximum heart rate (HRM). Your MHR is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can tolerate during exercise, and to estimate yours, the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest using this simple formula:

220 – your age = your MHR in beats per minute (bpm)

You can then multiply that number by 0.5 and 0.65 to get your target heart rate zone between 50% and 65%, in bpm.

What is LISS cardio?  Woman stretching on a bridge

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Katie Anderson, physical trainer at Flying Ldn, told Live Science that once you’ve established your heart rate zone, you should aim for sessions of between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on your current fitness level. “If you’re new to fitness, stick to 30 to 45 minutes of exercise. If you move regularly, you can increase that to 45 to 60 minutes,” she said.

She also recommended using a fitness tracker, such as a Fitbit, to monitor your heart rate when doing LISS cardio. This will ensure that you stay at a sustainable level of exertion for your entire workout.

What is LISS cardio? Science

Cardio workouts trigger a number of positive reactions in the body. As explained by the MayoClinic, aerobic exercise maximizes the amount of oxygen in the blood and increases the heart rate to promote healthy blood flow to the muscles and lungs.

During LISS cardio, the body maintains a steady state in the aerobic zone for a longer period, which helps the body to become more efficient in these processes. The American Council on Exercise (ACE), confirms that constant intensity, low-intensity exercise is an established method of improving cardiorespiratory fitness, expanding aerobic capacity, and improving overall health.

but why is it important? A 2012 study in Complete physiology concluded that lack of physical activity affects almost all cells, organs and systems in the body, causing severe chronic disease and accelerated death, and the CDC advises that regular aerobic exercise can help prevent this – in addition to helping all bodily functions, from sleep to digestion.

What is LISS cardio?  A group of women using rowers

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Other scientific benefits of LISS cardio include:

It helps in weight loss: Exercising at a sustained pace for an extended period of time keeps the body in fat burning mode for longer. Anderson told Live Science: “Working out at a lower intensity means the body has more oxygen for fuel. It helps the body convert body fat into energy rather than using up muscle glycogen stores. ”

It also helps prevent the build-up of “bad” fats. A 2014 study published in the Obesity Journal have found that continuous exercise at a lower intensity is more effective than HIIT workouts at improving fat distribution in overweight adults. Better distribution reduces visceral fat, the dangerous type that surrounds the vital organs of the body.

It’s friendly for beginners: Anderson explained that LISS is an enjoyable way for beginners and older adults to establish, develop, and maintain fitness levels because it doesn’t force the body out of its comfort zone. Many LISS cardio workouts are also great ways to exercise without hurting your knees.

In contrast, research published in the Medicine and science in sport and exercise journal, suggested that the physical demands of high-intensity exercise lead to an increase in negative emotions both during and after a workout, which can hamper adherence to a fitness program.

• Find out more: How to run longer without getting tired

LISS cardio is also suitable when resuming exercise following an injury or a break. However, if you have any health concerns or are new to exercising, talk to your doctor first.

What is LISS cardio?  A walker crosses a stream

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It improves mood: There is a lot of evidence on how mental health affects physical health and vice versa. “Sustained exercise stimulates the release of neurotransmitters that regulate and improve our mood, including dopamine and serotonin,” Anderson said. This is confirmed by research published in the Psychiatric Research Journal which found that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise had a strong and significant antidepressant effect in people with depression, showing the benefits of exercise for mental health.

It reduces the risk of injury: LISS has less impact on your joints and muscles, allowing you to exercise more frequently. “It’s extremely good at burning calories while minimizing muscle damage, allowing you to perform it over and over,” MacDonald said. “You can’t repeat high intensity workouts every day because they are taxing and you are likely to get injured. With LISS you can go cycling or jogging and not have pain afterwards – so you can start again the next day. “

According to ASLISS is also beneficial in helping repair overworked muscles by removing metabolic waste that can slow recovery time and providing nutrients to the muscles.

What is LISS cardio? LISS cardio workout ideas

“With LISS cardio, there is a real possibility of adding variety to your current fitness program,” said Anderson. As long as an activity increases your heart rate to 50% -65% of your maximum heart rate, and you do it for 30 minutes or more, you will reap the benefits.

Try these ideas:

  • Pedal at a gentle speed on level ground for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Use a rower at a constant frequency and intensity of strokes for a set duration of more than 30 minutes.
  • Swim for 60 minutes using breaststroke.
  • Jog at 5 mph for 45 minutes.
  • Walk at 3 mph for 60 minutes, or about 100 steps per minute.


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