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The question of how much cardio to do for weight loss is one that many exercise beginners struggle with. It can be intimidating to start a new exercise program, let alone design one yourself, from scratch.

Not only that, but the amount of information available these days can make your head spin! We’re here to help you figure out the best way to achieve your weight loss goals and sift through the wealth of knowledge available on the topic.

When done properly, cardio can improve your health and help you lose fat faster. But when done improperly, it can do the opposite: impair health, fail to help you lose weight, and negatively impact body composition.

So, in this article I'm going to break down how much cardio you should do and how to get the most bang for your (sweaty) buck.

So, for someone looking to lose weight, how much is enough?

The answer to that is simple: you should do enough cardio to meet your specific goal, but no more than that.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, then you should be aiming for a program that both helps you lose fat and helps you build lean muscle over time.

Overall, weight loss is caused by a deficit of calories: more calories being burned than calories being consumed. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and cardio to burn calories is just one of them. However, cardio alone isn’t recommended if you’re looking to get healthier: your workout regimen should be balanced, including strength training, flexibility and functional fitness training, as well.

Aim for 30 minutes, five days per week and add some variety.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30-60 minutes, five days a week. ACSM has two different recommendations for cardio: either 30-60 minutes of “moderate” intensity exercise five days a week, or 20-60 minutes of “vigorous” intensity exercise three days a week.

How to make your cardio more effective

It’s important to add variety into your workout routine: 30 minutes of jogging at the same moderate pace over five days won’t get you anywhere (except more efficient at jogging at the moderate pace).

Instead, try adding some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts to keep your body constantly challenged: jog for three minutes, then sprint for a minute, then repeat until you reach 30 minutes. Additionally, be sure you are adding strength training into your routine for a truly balanced approach to fitness. 


  • The most important thing when losing weight is to create a deficit of calories in to calories out. 
  • Aim for 30 minutes, five days per week and add some variety.
  • You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, so ensure you are eating the right amounts of the right kinds of foods.
  • It’s important to add variety into your cardio workout routine to get maximum results.

Hold on tiger! I've got something to tell you.

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People can also track steps, calories, distance and see where they rank in real-time as they walk.
Whether you're completely new to fitness or a seasoned pro, this app will help you reach the next level. Give it a try.

Written by Anjali Sareen , AFAA Certified Personal Trainer | Doctor of Law (J.D.) from New York University School of Law | Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Marketing and International Business from NYU Stern School of Business
Anjali Sareen is an AFAA-certified personal trainer, as well as a dedicated runner and CrossFitter. Her undergraduate degree is in marketing and she loves to write and talk about staying fit, as well as help other people get fit!

Inspire, educate and empower the StayWow community. Become a StayWow Contributor!

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