I am much more of a low intensity exerciser than I am a high intensity exerciser. Some people wonder what this means because they kill themselves working out but I would rather exercise in longer boughts of exercise throughout the day instead of killing myself on an elliptical trainer for 30 minutes.
There is a misconception that I believe still exists today: The harder you go on the cardio the more fat you burn. I’ don’t really agree with this at all. If you learn about the basics of the human body and how the energy systems work you find out that it is in fact the opposite.
How fat burning works
Fat burning occurs and peaks during sustained low intensity exercise in the presence of oxygen. This means that when energy is required quickly for short or medium bursts of intense exercise ATP and Glycogen becomes the source of that energy. They can be used instantly and without oxygen resulting in a by-product that everyone has experienced, Lactic Acid. Anaerobic Exercise predominately uses these fuels during brief periods that cannot be sustained. Aerobic Exercise utilizes fat as the dominant fuel because the low amount of intensity is sustainable allowing blood supply to the muscles that is rich in oxygen, fats’ catalyst.
What does low intensity cardio look like?
So what does this mean for all you lovely people out there? If you want to concentrate on burning fat during cardio-vascular exercise drop the intensity to a level where your breathing rate increases but you can still have a fairly normal conversation with someone.
The way that I do this is by riding around a lot everyday, walking and playing at the park with the kids and even just puttering around the house doing the work of the day.
Finally remember that we are always moving. If you have the chance to do a long walk around the neighborhood to pick up some groceries every evening then why not do that. The trouble with this kind of exercise is that it can take a lot more out of your day and then it is very easy to stop doing, especially in winter, now that spring seems to be coming up for us it is a really good time to build a lot of those low intensity workout habits that make a big difference over time.