The ideal cardio workout time for weight loss

People who are trying to lose weight often rely solely on cardio training where they spent hours a day sweating the fatty tissue away. When you combine this type of training with a smart diet you will see the positive results in no-time. But not everybody has hours of time available, or the motivation, to do long sessions of cardio training. In this article we will take a closer look at how much time you can best spend on your cardio workout to optimize your weight loss.

In 2012 a group of Danish researchers followed a group of 61 inactive, moderately overweight, young men and divided them randomly in a control group which would not do exercise, a group performing moderate exercise where they exercised about 30 minutes a day (and burned 300 kcal/day), and a group performing a high dose of exercise for about 60 minutes a day (burning 600 kcal/day), for a period of 11 weeks. With everything we know about exercise and how it influences your body weight it is not hard to estimate the outcomes of this test: the group doing the most exercise would lose the most weigh, followed by the group performing a moderate dose of daily exercise.

The table above shows the results and the change in fat mass is remarkable: the group that burned 600 kcal/day lost about the same amount of fat mass as the group that burned only 300 kcal/day. The group doing moderate exercise even lost a little bit more of fat mass, but the difference was not significant.

The amount of fat lost was 83% more than expected for a moderate dose of exercise while it was 20% less than expected for a high dose of daily exercise. The researchers did not find any statistically significant changes in energy intake during the testing period, and non-exercise physical activities could also not explain the differences between the moderate and high dose groups.

At a later stage the researchers also looked at other statistics normally associated with the positive health effects of exercise: lower LDL cholesterol levels, higher HDL cholesterol levels, an increase of maximum oxygen update, and insulin insensitivity. The differences between the high dose and medium dose groups were non-existent or minimal.

In conclusion it becomes clear that exercise improves your health as both the moderate and the high dose of exercise groups outperformed the control group which performed no exercise; this part should be no surprise. But it also becomes clear that performing twice as much exercise (60 minutes of cardio a day instead of 30 minutes) does not result in much better results; not regarding the amount of fat mass you lose or in the other measures of health.

People trying to lose weight could therefore optimize their cardio workouts by doing about 30 minutes a day instead of 60 minutes. This will result in similar amounts of fat being lost but it takes only half the time to do.

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