There is nothing quite like stepping out in the chilled air that is consistent with British winter weather to do a spot of cardio. The burning rasp sensation you experience when the freezing air hits the back of your lungs is weirdly pleasant, it makes you feel super healthy and at one with nature. Enough of the artistic descriptions, time to get to the point at hand – cardio. When you step outdoors this winter what cardio will you be doing? Presumably it is with a view to either keeping the fat off your body, shifting fat from your physique or improving aerobic fitness.
For the sake of today’s article, the topic is in direct relation to fat loss, therefore we shall presume your motives for wrapping up warm and getting outside in the winter chill is vanity, I mean fat loss!!
So the showdown is between low impact, steady state cardio including power walking, maybe a slow jog and HIIT (high intensity interval training) such as sprints. Which wins and why? Are there different scenarios where each form of cardio works better?
All these questions shall be answered. If the individual is relatively healthy, not overweight (to a great extent anyway) then HIIT is often the best way to burn more calories around the clock due to the effect it has on oxygen consumption. It is also more efficient simply because the time required, maybe just 2-3 20 minute workouts a week. It also can have a positive effect on hormone levels, increasing growth hormone secretion (great for fat loss) whilst limiting cortisol. If the individual is overweight this potentially means their joints are going to come under greater stress. Therefore doing a handful of fast paced walks on a weekly basis is more advisable.
However, jogging isn’t something which is generally as efficient for fat loss as the previous two options. The body will work in a ‘’zone’’ whereby it will be utilising other energy sources rather than body fat. More than that, excessive levels of jogging and prolonged aerobic exercise in your average person can elevate cortisol levels which is directly related to stubborn body fat around the belly. Not great, if avoiding that gut is the goal. Applying a bit of both can work well if you are fit enough to cope with both forms, especially HIIT. With intervals aim for 20 minutes overall workout time with 20-30 second bursts, combined with 40-60 seconds rests. In relation to steady state cardio aim for 30-60 minute power walks to get the body ticking.
This winter, enjoy your cardio in the glorious British chill!