I want to know if I actually need to break a sweat during my cardio workouts in order to burn fat and lose weight. Most of the time, my workouts consist of very low intensity cardio exercises like walking and I don’t really sweat that much at all. Is this high enough intensity for me to drop the pounds or do I need to kick it up a notch and start sweating?
Answering this question really depends on your current health condition. For some people, especially those with health concerns, a simple walk around their neighborhood is great exercise. For a generally healthy individual with no health concerns, however, we can place more demand on the body. There is a difference between simple exercise and a cardio workout. Simple exercise is any activity that enhances or maintains one’s physical well-being. A cardio workout however, is designed to strengthen and improve the efficiency of the cardiovascular system. In order to so, we must place sufficient demand on the body to encourage the body to strengthen the cardiovascular system. It is important to understand that the human body is an adaptive organism. In other words, it will only do what is asked of it. So if our goal is improved cardiovascular fitness, we must make it work hard enough to create the need for it to adapt. This work creates a host of physiological responses from the body in order to accommodate this energy output. One of the first of these responses is sweating.
Sweating is your body’s way of regulating its temperature. As we exercise, we create a sort of internal combustion that increases our body’s core temperature. In order to maintain equilibrium, the body releases this excess heat through the skin by sweating. The rate at which sweat is released depends on the workload and the individual. Some people simply sweat easier than others. So is it necessary to sweat when you exercise, no, but if you are looking for a good cardiovascular workout it is not only inevitable but a natural and healthy process.
A good rule of thumb is that when you’re doing cardio, you should start sweating within the first 10 minutes of exercising or you’re probably not working hard enough. Increase the intensity to a level where you break a good sweat and keep it there for the duration of the workout. You can also use HIIT cardio workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) for a very explosive workout where you train at super high intensity for a short period of time (30-60 seconds) and then you rest for a set period of time (30-60 seconds) before starting again. The great thing about HIIT cardio is that you can get a very high calorie burning workout finished in a matter of only 15-20 minutes which makes it a great choice for people who have very busy schedules with limited time for exercise.
If you like walking, then a great option is to walk for 5 minutes and then jog for 5 minutes. During your jog, you should start to sweat and then you can cool down by walking. Do this for 1 week and then increase the time to a 10 minute jog and keep the walk to 5 minutes. Try to build up to 15-20 minutes per jogging session and you will start burning serious calories! You can also add variation by walking with some light hand weights or walking up hills or on an incline using the treadmill. As you become stronger and more comfortable with the process of sweating, your workouts can be increased in intensity and duration thereby lengthening the amount of time you are burning more calories. The key is to be committed and patient because it truly is a lifelong commitment. And there is no greater commitment worth the effort than your health. Good luck and stay with it!