In the fitness world there are a ton of controversies. From protein is bad for the kidneys, carbs are evil, to Justin Bieber is awesome (just kidding!). It just never ends.
Today I feel like talking about one of the most controversial topics when it comes to fitness: No, it’s not Crossfit (though that has warning signs written all over it as well.) It’s the other C word.
If cardio popped into your mind, well my friend you are a genius!
People often wonder if cardio should be done and if yes, what kind of cardio? As a personal trainer people ask me this more than a teenage girl asking her friend if she is Team Edward or Team Jacob.
There are countless of activities that we can place under the cardio umbrella. However the term cardio is used to describe anything that raises your heart rate and that does not specifically means exercise. For the sake of simplicity I’ll use the term cardio as we commonly see it.
So here’s the fun stuff. Which cardio should you use to help you flaunt your body in that new bikini?
*HIIT: Also known as the cardio that might make yesterdays lunch reappear in front of you.
I am dedicating this post to help the forgotten LISS become Ms. Popular and gain favor among the masses.
Let’s just jump right in, shall we?
Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)
The first thing we must know is LISS utilizes the aerobic pathway which is activated when long term energy is needed. The aerobic pathway uses both oxygen + fatty acids as fuel and LISS can be sustained for many hours.
A good example of this type of cardio would be long walks or window shopping.
However the most practical form of LISS is actually brisk walking. This is actually one of my favorite methods of cardio and it is usually done first thing in the morning when I’m in a fasted state. While there might be no significant benefit training on an empty stomach, I do it simply because walking in the morning is simply comforting.
It also allows me to enjoy nature before the hustle and bustle of the city takes over. It is nice to have a taste of what fresh air is since most of us are usually trapped in the office for long hours of time. It’s therapeutic to both the body and mind.
You can download audio books or interviews and simply listen to them while you walk. Morning walks definitely do not require much effort and focus, therefore you can actually channel your focus on anything else besides the walk. Getting fresh air and knowledge in the morning is a great way to start your day and it’s killing two birds with one stone.
Why LISS is best
We’re busy during the day. We have things to do and it’s not always easy. Whenever we face some form of stress our CNS (central nervous system) goes through a ton of processes to prepare us for that stress. Our sympathetic nervous system will be activated and that’s exact response we get in a flight or fight situation (think a hungry lion chasing you in the Sahara).
This excitement that our CNS undergoes is also present whenever we perform high intensity work such as sprints and lifting heavy weights. It is no doubt that high intensity work helps fill a swimming pool with sweat and helps fat burning. However with our sympathetic nervous system constantly activated it isn’t a great way to live our lives.
Can you imagine being easily agitated and angst all day? Probably a great way to lose all your friends.
That’s not the only thing, because what takes place inside your body will leave a bigger impact. Just like anything that goes through frequent overuse the CNS will soon crash. This might lead to ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, cancer, asthma, heart diseases, atherosclerosis, stroke, cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure.
Not a pretty sight, huh?
I’m not trying to say never do any form of high intensity work; it’s just that sometimes we need to know how to chill. After all, fitness is meant to compliment your lifestyle and if it makes your life sucky, I rather you not do it at all.
To close, low intensity steady state work is an awesome way to get up and moving while allowing your body to relax. It’s not the only way, but it’s something everyone should consider adding into their cardio routine.
Start by doing short 20 minutes walk and slowly build them up to approximately 45 minutes. Doing it in the morning gives you the extra benefit of fresh air.
So what are you waiting for? Go get an audio book and get ready for some walking!
Stay tuned for part II where I will discuss High intensity training, the cardio that everyone hails as king. Till then, have a great week and you are awesome!