What Counts As Cardio?

“But I don’t like to run”
“Ok but does ____ count as cardio”.
“What if I don’t / can’t run?”

It’s often hard to tease out the message that I am a RUNNER who RUNS and coaches / sells running programs from the industry mindset that running is the ONLY way to be active.

Running is a fantastic, accessible, low equipment needed form of cardio that anyone of any size and shape and experience can do. But for many it’s not their thing, maybe they have an underlying injury (for many of you thought I’d recommend a second opinion from a good sports DPT — I’ve also been told to “not run” ) OR they just don’t want to. Fair enough!

But I also don’t ONLY run and you don’t ONLY have to run to get the benefits of cardio training.

We want at a minimum 150-300 min of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 min of vigorous intensity OR a mix of both. This can be done in MANY ways.

When it comes to traditional steady state zone 2-3ish intensity cardio OR our actual real HIIT workouts we’re likely going to have to do more traditional forms of cardio like running, biking, rowing, ski erg, etc where we can get into those sustained intensity. But this also doesn’t mean the easier more sustainable stuff can’t also be hiking, incline walking / hiking / stair stepping, swimming or whatever else you like.

Your peloton or cycle class counts.
Not all but many Metcons COUNT; a good CrossFit gym will have more true cardio training or stimulus in your plan if you don’t cherry pick 😉.
The 1/2 of your OTF class counts.

Lifting with a high heart rate doesn’t count 🙈 (I have a YT video on this too!)

If you can’t handle load bearing at this time that’s also OK TOO! When I was in a boot this spring then couldn’t run i rowed, did seated ski erg, and eventually incline power walking and stair master to tolerance.

CARDIO doesn’t depend on the mode of cardio (aka it still has to be a cardio modality) but the INTENSITY.

To learn more about these intestines, what they mean, and why we do them — checkout my recent YouTube video on this! It is also available as a podcast episode as well (mess middle podcast)!

Hey, I'm Lyss!

I’m Exercise Physiologist, sports nutritionist, weight lifter, and ultra runner. I am here to bring science to your training in a no-nonsense way. I have helped thousands of women crush big lifting goals, cross race finish lines, and even do both. I’m here to help you do the same!

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Exercise Scientist, ultra runner, lifter, human.