These are the Best Cardio Exercises for Weight Loss

If you’re new to exploring exercises for weight loss, it can be difficult to know where to start. There’s weight training, yoga, pilates, barre, and more. But many people including personal trainers believe in the simple power of cardio for weight loss. (However, research shows a well-rounded fitness routine for weight loss includes both cardio and strength training.)

Meet the Experts: Tim Landicho, CSCS, NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and Tonal fitness coach and Denise Chakoian, CPT, owner and founder of CORE Cycle.Fitness.Lagree.

At its core, cardio is movement that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for the duration of the workout, explains Tim Landicho, CSCS, NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and Tonal fitness coach. The goal here is to engage large muscle groups in rhythmic, repetitive movements, which, in turn, increase your heart rate and breathing, he adds.

The basic formula for weight loss is to burn more calories than you eat (though it’s not always that easy), says Landicho, and cardio tops that effort by burning calories for longer. after your sweat sesh ends through a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), he adds. According to the National Association of Sports Medicine, EPOC is characterized by an increase in oxygen consumption and metabolism that occurs as the body recovers from exercise.

Cardio is good for weight loss because it reduces the body’s ability to hold on to calories and fat, adds Denise Chakoian, CPT, owner and founder of CORE Cycle.Fitness.Lagree.

Best cardio exercises for weight loss

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio weekly. With that said, there is no universal prescription for weight loss because every body and metabolism is different. However, the CDC and the experts we spoke to can offer some good starting points to keep your movement effective and interesting.

According to Chakoian, it takes 20 minutes of cardio to get into fat-burning mode on most bodies, so he recommends aiming for 30 to 45 minutes per session, regardless of your exercise choice.


Both Chakoian and Landicho recommend running to get your cardio in. The CDC considers running a vigorous form of aerobic exercise, so you can meet your need for optimal health with a 75-minute weekly jog around the neighborhood.


Whether it’s taking an hour-long spin class or biking instead of the train to work, both count as biking your way to your cardio goals. Depending on the terrain, the CDC considers it moderate or vigorous exercise.

Jumping jacks

Landicho recommends breaking out into jumping jacks any time your workout needs a cardio boost. Try three sets of 30 seconds of movement, resting 45 seconds between each one.


Using a rowing machine is one of the most effective ways to get a cardiovascular and strength training workout in a short amount of time, says Nick Karwoski, a Hydro athlete and former triathlete. To avoid. Some machine-specific workouts are as short as 15 minutes.


Never underestimate the power of a brisk walk. The CDC recommends walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Jump rope

Jumping rope is a high-intensity form of cardio that engages your entire body, making it an effective and efficient workout. If you jump rope at any speed for 30 seconds, you will start to feel it, Albert MathenyRD, CSCS, co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab, Promix Nutritionand ARENA previously said To avoid. There is a lot of coordination between different muscle groups. Like running, jumping rope is considered vigorous cardio by the CDC, so a 75-minute weekly sesh is a good starting point.

Suitcase march or knee high

Stand tall, and using your core, push one knee up to your chest, then alternate, ending with a high knee, Landicho explains. The marching position keeps your body tall and resists weight pulling you to the side, he adds. Not only will this curb your cardio obligation, it will also challenge your body’s ability to handle the load on one side while balancing on one leg then switch to the other strengthening your obliques and glutes.

Pullover crunch

Lie on your back with legs in a tabletop position and arms stretched directly across your chest, says Landicho. Simultaneously extending the legs and reaching the arms overhead, brace the body in a hollow position. With control, bring the knees to the chest and pull the arms to your sides with the shoulders raised in a crunch position. This move is a great mix of cardio and strength and it targets the core, which is often the main focus of weight loss regimens.


Landicho says a good freestyle dance session is her favorite form of cardio. Yours might dive into kitchen karaoke, or attend a more formal cardio dance class.


Swimming offers all the heart-boosting benefits of other cardio without the pavement-pounding wear and tear that comes with some of it. If you’re overweight and struggling with joint pain, this is a good option for a gentle but effective workout, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The CDC says that a 154-pound person who swims slow freestyle laps for 30 minutes burns 255 calories.

Cardio benefits

In addition to potential weight loss, cardio is key to maintaining good heart and lung health, Landicho says, and the American Heart Association confirms this. It also boosts mood, relieves stress, and is full of endorphins, making it an important part of a healthy lifestyle, he adds.

Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer-editor covering health, nutrition, and lifestyle topics for a variety of publications including To avoid, Everyday Health, SELF, People, etc. She’s always open to conversations about fueling up on delicious foods, subverting beauty standards, and finding new, gentle ways to take care of our bodies. She earned a bachelors degree in journalism from Ohio University with specializations in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and public health, and is a born-and-raised midwesterner who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her wife and two spoiled kittens.

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