How Much Cardio Do You Need A Day?

Ever wonder how much cardio do you need a day?  Sure, more than the minimum would be better but with girlfriends, work, school, kids, and friends all competing for your time, sometimes you need to know just how much cardio exercise you really need a day to stay healthy.  No matter how much you know you need to work out, often we just need to know how little we can get away with.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human services recommends two and a half hours of moderate cardio exercise, or one and a half hours of intense cardio exercise, per week to be healthy.  So, that means 30 minutes of moderate cardio a day at least five days a week is how much you need for your health.  Remember, that's just the minimum.
 
What exactly counts as moderate or intense?  That depends on your current fitness level.  If you haven't worked out in months or years, you need to start out slow.  If you get injured you won't get any cardio done at all no matter how much you need a day, so don't go for broke on day one.  There's no shame in starting out with walking.  You're still doing a hell of a lot better than when you were just sitting still.  Go ahead and walk for your cardio on your moderate days, and try hoping on an elliptical or a bike for your intense days.  Just don't over do it!  A heart rate monitor and an online heart rate calculator can be really helpful figuring out how hard to work to do moderate versus intense cardio.  
 
For moderate days, think 65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, and 75 to 85 percent for your intense days.  Again, if you're just starting out you need to work your way up to this and just focus on being active five days a week.  Eventually, it would be great if we could all work up to doing jogging and running for the moderate and intense daily cardio we need.  Or, cycling hard and harder, practicing lightly and then playing hard in games of football, etc, whatever works for you.  But if you're not already active, just focus on getting moving.  
 
Don't have enough time in your day to to get how much cardio you need?  A great trick is to take advantage of the stairs wherever you live or work.  However you can manage you can, take a ten minute break to walk up and down the stairs.  Be sure to take off your jacket, you may be surprised by how easily you work up a sweat doing this.  This is great if you work in an office building or live in apartments.
 
It might be hard to get out to walk or jog for an hour most days, but spending ten minutes going up and down stairs six times a day can be incredibly easy to fit in.  Any time you're stuck or stressed out, do it.  You might find you drastically increase your daily productivity and feel better right away.
 
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