High-Intensity Vs. Low-Intensity – Which is The Right Type of Cardio For me?


Cardio. It’s a buzzword in the fitness world that will never die.

Everyone knows that cardio is an essential form of exercise, but when it comes to high vs. low-intensity cardio, it leaves a lot of people lost for words.

It’s confusing, right?

Unfortunately, not knowing the difference means you won’t get the results you want from your workouts. There’s no sense in wasting time on an exercise bike if you aren’t sure that it’s bringing you the outcomes you are looking for.

So let’s take a look to see what the two types of cardio actually do, and find out which sounds more like you.

High-Intensity vs Low-Intensity – The Differences


There are two types of exercise, both of which use blood sugars as fuel:
1. Aerobic
2. Anaerobic

Put simply, aerobic work uses air, while anaerobic does not. This is why low-intensity cardio can be considered aerobic, and high-intensity anaerobic.

Blood sugars are burned slowly throughout the duration of low-intensity, while during high intensity, your body uses quick bursts of energy as it powers its muscles. These quick bursts trigger metabolic changes within your body, supercharging your metabolism.


“Your metabolism is not predestined by your genes.
Yes, your genetics may influence it. But usually its people’s lifestyle and dietary choices that are making them fat, not the genetics.”

Reference: positivemed.com – 10 Interesting Facts About Metabolism

Any form of exercise will speed up your metabolism, however high-intensity cardio has been proven to be more effective at stimulating your metabolism.

Calorie Loss

Another major difference between the two types is how calories are burned.

With low-intensity cardio, calorie-burning only occurs while you exercise. Say you burn 700 calories an hour during a run, -a one hour workout will give you a 700 calorie loss.

High-intensity cardio goes beyond this, offering a major advantage when it comes to weight loss. During high-intensity, your heart cannot deliver sufficient oxygen to muscle mass, and your oxygen supply is put into debt. Your metabolism is effectively put into overdrive, burning calories at an increased rate long after your workout.

With high-intensity cardio, you get double the value: burning calories both DURING and AFTER your workout.

Low Calorie Diets

For those on a low-calorie diet, low-intensity cardio may be a more sensible choice than HIIT. For you, a longer, lower intensity session will bring better results.

Studies have concluded that low-intensity cardio coupled with low-calorie diets is more effective in burning fat, rather than muscle. -And muscle loss is rarely desirable!

Choosing The Right Form Of Cardio

Weighting The Pros And Cons

Now, while the list of benefits for high-intensity cardio is long, there are some valid reasons it might not be your cup of tea.

Cons of High-intensity Cardio:

– Should not be done every day
– Stressful for joints
– Physically and psychologically demanding
– Should not be used as a sole form of exercise
– Can lead to muscle loss coupled with low-calorie diets

As you can see from the above list, high-intensity workouts are what their name suggests -INTENSE. They may not be a sustainable form of exercise for you.

If the list above looks scary, low-intensity cardio is likely to be better suited to your needs.

Low-intensity cardio:

– Longer time required
– Can be used to speed up recovery
– More suitable for elderly
– More suitable for people with low levels of fitness
– Can be an intermittent part of a high-intensity workout regime

So, Which Type of Cardio is The One for Me?

We have seen that both types have their advantages and disadvantages; so deciding between the two really depends on your individual aims and preferences.

High-intensity cardio is a faster, more efficient solution for fat loss and building muscle, yet it is hard on the body and mind. If you are seeking maximum results from your workouts and don’t mind a bit of pain, high-intensity is your cup of tea.

Low-intensity is safer and easier on the body, and better for those starting out their fitness regimes as well as the elderly. Low-intensity exercises can be eased into and built up slowly. If you don’t mind spending longer on your workouts, low-intensity cardio is a perfect option.

Final Words – Both Low-Intensity and High-Intensity is Better Than no-Intensity

Either you do high-intensity or low-intensity cardio, -their both better than NO-INTENSITY cardio.

Either you do high-intensity or low-intensity cardio, -their both better than NO-INTENSITY cardio! Click To Tweet

Being active is essential in keeping your health in good shape, both mentally and physically. Find a type of exercises suited your lifestyle and interests and stick to it. After a couple of weeks doing cardio becomes a habit, and after a few months you might even think its fun!

Every living creature should engage in some form of cardiovascular activity at a minimum once per week, -at-least if you aim to live a healthy, long life.

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