LISS Cardio: The Benefits of Low-Intensity Steady State Cardio

LISS Cardio Benefits

Just when you were feeling overwhelmed with high-intensity training, sprint interval training, and moderate-intensity workouts, along comes something that just may be more your speed—low-intensity steady-state (LISS) training. Find out why this could be the next best thing for you!

What is LISS Cardio Training?

Good news! You don’t actually have to kill yourself and hate your workouts to make progress and improve your health! The old “no pain, no gain” adage no longer has to be your motto if you employ this enjoyable form of aerobic activity and make it a regular part of your workout regimen.

LISS cardio stands for “low-intensity steady state,” and it is a form of cardiovascular workout you can do to maintain your health and burn calories. It’s actually nothing new to the fitness scene, although you may have referred to it in the past by other monikers such as steady-state training, continuous training, low-intensity workouts, or other names.

In a nutshell, it is a cardiovascular workout you would perform at about 50 to 60% of your maximum heart rate. It’s continuous and must be performed for longer periods of time (like 45 – 60 minutes or so) than your more hyped-up cardio sessions to truly be effective.

What are the Benefits of Doing a LISS Workout?

While the benefits of other forms of cardio may be somewhat obvious, it may come as a surprise that you can also benefit greatly from a more mild, gentler form of cardio.

  • Teach your body to burn off body fat—if your goal is to burn off excess body fat (which is most often the goal!), then LISS may be for you! Doing longer, slower-paced bouts of cardio can teach your body to switch over to using body fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. While it can normally take your body up to 20 minutes of activity just to start burning body fat (after you work your way through the carbs in your system), when you do a LISS cardio workout, you’re in it for the long haul, so you’ll spend the majority of your time in the fat-burning zone!
  • It’s easy on the joints and ligaments—the gentle nature of this type of workout makes it ideal for just about any fitness level. Because there are no jarring movements or stressful motions like hopping and jumping, you get all of the benefits of a great cardiovascular workout with none of the injury potential.
  • Your daily go-to workout—because it’s so body-friendly, you shouldn’t be sore after a LISS cardio workout, which means you can really do it every day. In this society where we spend much of our time sitting, and we’re constantly being told to move more, doing your daily LISS can help you take the edge off of that sedentary lifestyle!
  • You’re more likely to do it—sticking to a plan is more likely when you’re having fun! Since low-intensity exercise is less overwhelming than a typical, more stressful workout, you may be more likely to look forward to doing it.
  • Social benefits—yes, since you’re not going to be out of breath or sweating up a storm, this type of low-intensity workout is perfect to do with friends! It’s a tailor-made workout program for groups. You can exercise and socialize at the same time!

So, Is the 10,000 Steps Program a LISS Workout?

If you’ve been around the fitness world for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the 10,000 steps a day protocol. A form of LISS, the 10,000 steps program has been recommended for years and is an easy way to get in your activity for the day.

Why 10,000 steps? Well, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that number, but it’s a good gauge of movement to ensure you’re not sitting all day. If you have been able to get in 10,000 steps over the course of your day, congratulations, you have rousted yourself out of the “sedentary” category. This means an improved mortality rate and better health markers across the board for you.

How does the program work? It’s best to use some form of tracking device like a FitBit or iWatch, which can track your steps and movement throughout the day. Periodically, check in and see how many steps you’re up to for the day. A lot of devices will automatically let you know as you reach mini-goals during the day. This will help you determine how much more movement you need to complete your goal.

So, is 10,000 steps a LISS workout? Technically, no, it is not a LISS workout because it’s not continuous movement, but at the same time, yes, it is a LISS workout because it’s a lot of low-intensity movement throughout the day, thus accomplishing the same goals as a true LISS cardio workout.

Other LISS Workouts You Can Try

Now that you’re fully onboard with LISS workouts, it’s time to see if there are more exercises that will work for you! Beyond your daily steps program, you might also enjoy:

Yoga—this full-body stretching and calming practice keeps you moving at a slower, gentler pace while working your body and strengthening your muscles. It’s easy on the joints and can help relieve stress and depression. Holding some of the poses may be a little tougher than you think, so you’ll still get a great workout and burn off some excess calories to boot.

Swimming—another gentle on the body exercise, swimming is a great way to burn off calories without putting any stress on your joints. Often used as part of a rehab program, swimming provides many health benefits, and you’ll find yourself enjoying your exercise while at the same time making significant improvements in your cardiovascular capacity.

Biking—that is, biking for enjoyment, not for racing or sprinting. Yes, even a leisurely bike ride through the neighborhood is an excellent LISS workout!

You can really use any form of movement and turn it into a LISS cardio workout, as long as you accumulate at least 45 – 60 minutes of time doing your exercise program. You’ll burn extra calories and improve your cardiovascular abilities with this gentle non-taxing workout, and you’ll even have some fun along the way!

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