Goodbye, HIIT. Hello, MISS.
I say it all the time: One of the best things I ever did for myself was to stop working out every day. Seriously, I sound like a broken record, but I can’t stop saying it because I know there are so many others out there who, like me, feel an overwhelming obligation to go nuts in the gym — or do nothing at all.
The all-or-nothing mindset kept me bound for years. I battled with guilt when I felt like I didn’t “go hard” enough in the gym, and I sparred with even more guilt when I skipped a workout because I was too tired to do whatever intense session I’d written for the day.
So there I stayed, in an endless cycle of working out hard every single day (and sometimes twice a day), or doing nothing at all, because I thought that low-intensity workouts weren't worth it.
Until one day I became completely, utterly burnt out. I was bored, I was tired, and most of all, I was in pain. My muscles ached nonstop and my joints were stiff. It didn’t help that I wasn’t eating or sleeping enough, but that’s another story for another day.
I went through a mini-identity crisis when I realized that my level of physical activity was unsustainable. I figured I might as well quit working out since I couldn’t continue to be the girl who went to the gym 12 times a week.
Boy, was I wrong. But I didn’t realize just how twisted my mindset was until I started taking a walk every day. That’s when I realized how powerful aerobic exercise is (despite knowing for years how beneficial it is to your health).
To share the love — and the power of daily aerobic exercise — I’m discussing what exactly “aerobic exercise” means, why you should do it, and how to start adding it into your daily routine.
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise is what you probably think of as cardio. You know: walking, running, and the like. But, aerobic exercise is so much more than that. It’s really an immensely powerful tool that can help you become fitter, healthier, and — if you want to — leaner.
Aerobic exercise is any cardiovascular-strengthening exercise. It’s anything that involves a sustained, submaximal effort, meaning you could do it consistently for 10 minutes or longer. It’s also called moderate-intensity steady state (MISS) or low-intensity steady-state cardio (LISS).
Examples of aerobic exercise
The beauty of aerobic exercise is that you can do it however you want. The key factor is to keep your body moving at an easy to moderate pace for 10 minutes or more, with the sweet spot being 30 minutes. Aim to move at a pace where your heart rate becomes slightly elevated, but still allows you to breathe easily and talk.
Try these types of aerobic exercise to find your favorite:
Why you should do aerobic exercise
The short answer: You should do aerobic exercise because it’s fantastic for your health.
Aerobic exercise brings so many benefits to the table: improved heart health, reduced risk of chronic disease, strengthened lungs, lower blood pressure, blood sugar regulation, weight regulation, and more.
When done correctly, aerobic exercise can facilitate muscle recovery, too — an added bonus for those of us who lift weights and hit the gym hard a few times each week.
Aside from the physical health benefits, aerobic exercise can improve your mood, energy, sleep, and brain health, too! Basically, steady-state cardio is magic.
How to do aerobic exercise the right way
Aerobic exercise is all about pacing. When you do it right, you can do it every day (or however often you want) and reap all of the health benefits that come along with that. If you do it wrong, you’ll get the wrong “dose response” to your exercise and end up overly tired or sore.
The key is to go at a pace you can sustain for the duration of the session. For example, if you go for a 20-minute jog, your pace should be the same at the beginning and the end (or even faster at the end).
If you don’t already do aerobic exercise, start small. Try adding a couple of five or 10-minute walks into your day. For example, try walking for 10 minutes after every meal. If you eat three times a day, that’s 30 minutes of aerobic exercise added into your day.
You can also opt to do all your aerobic work in one session — that’s how I like to do it. I start every day with a 30-minute walk, and that act alone has changed my life. When I start my day with aerobic exercise, I’m always more productive, more energetic, and happier.
Smarter Sweat takeaways
Instead of “all or nothing,” think, “always something.” Aerobic exercise is the “something” you can do when you can’t do it all. And I promise you’ll feel better for it: Not once in my life have I regretted taking a walk.
By Amanda Capritto
Amanda is the cofounder of Smarter Sweat. She's a certified personal trainer, health coach, and functional fitness coach. She also owns another business, where she writes about all things fitness, nutrition, travel and lifestyle.
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About Smarter Sweat
Smarter Sweat is a fitness company built from the ground up by fitness experts Amanda Capritto and Ashley Phantz. Amanda and Ashley are both dead-set on cutting through the clutter of the fitness industry and providing raw, real, utterly honest information about fitness and wellness.