When it comes to cardio exercise, many people default to steady-state cardio such as jogging or cycling at a moderate intensity. However, Zone 2 cardio, a less intensive level of cardio, can offer numerous health benefits, including weight loss.
Zone 2 cardio refers to exercising at a moderate intensity where you can still hold a conversation without gasping for air. This level of exertion falls between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. Zone 2 cardio is not as intense as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), but it is still effective in improving cardiovascular fitness and burning calories. There are many heart rate zone charts that can help determine your Zone 2 target heart rate.
There are lots of easy exercises to maintain this lower target heart rate. These include brisk walking, walking with hand weights, walking the treadmill on an incline, elliptical, stationary bike, row machine, swimming and more!
One of the most significant health benefits of Zone 2 cardio is that it can improve cardiovascular health. When you exercise in Zone 2, your heart rate increases, which forces your heart to work harder to pump blood to your muscles. This increased demand for oxygen-rich blood causes your heart muscles to become stronger and more efficient, reducing your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.
Additionally, Zone 2 cardio can improve your metabolism, helping you burn more calories even at rest. Exercising at a moderate intensity increases the number of mitochondria in your cells, which are responsible for converting food into energy. With more mitochondria, your body can efficiently convert more calories into energy, which can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight in the long term.
Moreover, Zone 2 cardio can help you manage stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Regular exercise also helps to regulate cortisol levels, which is the hormone responsible for stress.
In conclusion, Zone 2 cardio can offer numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, a more efficient metabolism, and better stress management. Incorporating this type of exercise into your fitness routine can help you reach your fitness goals while also improving your overall health and well-being. So, next time you hit the gym or head out for a run, try to keep your exertion level in the moderate range and see the benefits for yourself.