Are Low Intensity Workouts Better for You?
HIIT workouts have been buzzing throughout the fitness industry recently, but have you heard of LISS workouts? While you may be thinking, “please not another workout acronym,” do not fear! LISS simply stands for low-intensity, steady-state workouts. Low intensity workouts are great for getting your blood flowing and your body moving, but let’s dive into exactly what they entail. And if you feel like you can’t keep up with all the acronyms, it’s okay - none of us can either!
1. What are low-intensity workouts?
2. How do they benefit the body?
3. Examples of low-intensity workouts
4. Are they better than other workout options?
- Low-intensity workouts include those that keep your heart rate at 50% of its max ability for 20-30 minutes.
- Steady-state workouts provide tremendous benefits for your body and mind, including improving cardiovascular health, fat loss, and creating a sustainable active lifestyle.
- It can be extremely beneficial to your workout ritual to balance HIIT workouts with low-intensity workouts to improve stamina and build muscle and endurance.
What are low-intensity workouts?
A low-intensity workout is defined as any workout that keeps your heart rate at about 50% of its maximum for a steady and extended period- usually around 30 minutes. In order to calculate your maximum heart rate, a general guideline is to subtract your current age from 220; this will give you a good idea of where to start. And if you don’t want to do any math right now, I’ve got you covered! Research recommends keeping your heart rate between 120-150 beats per minute during these workouts.
It’s important to keep in mind that intensity is all relative! Low-intensity workouts can be great for those who are just getting started in the workout world, reintroducing themselves to a fitness routine after an illness or injury, or those who are simply trying to create a more sustainable active lifestyle. These workouts are generally easier to complete due to their less intense nature, and they’re easier to sustain over time. But low-intensity can look different for everyone, it is critical to listen to your body and your mind and do what feels right for you.
Another rule of thumb for low-intensity workouts: the CDC’s conversation test! When performing lower-intensity workouts, you should be able to carry a conversation with the person next to you, but you shouldn’t be able to break into song (although breaking into song is typically more fun.) Comparatively, if you were to perform high-intensity workouts, you should barely be able to get a couple of words in without taking a breath! General examples of low-intensity workouts include brisk walking, biking, yoga, and swimming.
How do they benefit the body?
The benefits of low-intensity workouts are far greater than one may think; they provide your muscles, heart, and mind with tremendous benefits that your body will thank you for!
The fitness industry has created a stigma around low-intensity workouts, with the idea that every workout needs to be “all or nothing,” however, let’s get this out of the way: every 👏 single 👏 time 👏 you are getting your body out and moving, you are doing good for your body! (Can we say it louder for the people in the back?)
Low-intensity workouts will strengthen your entire body: I’m talking about your lungs, muscles, bones, and heart, just as much as any other workout. Specifically, LISS training aids in fat burning and fat loss. Steady-state training helps your body to use fat to fuel your workouts rather than the glycogen sugar that your muscles store. Even more, research shows that continuous aerobic exercise can be better than HIIT workouts when it comes down to fat reduction.
Additionally, steady-state workouts lower fatigue and reduce your risk of injury by placing less stress on your joints. The greatest, most significant benefit of low-intensity workouts is the progressive increase in strength and muscular endurance without placing an extensive amount of stress on the joints.
Overall, low-intensity sessions are great for recovery after a difficult workout, they improve cardiovascular health, and get your heart pumping at a steady pace that will help with blood flow and respiratory health. The flexibility, adaptability, and sustainability of low-intensity workouts also help to create a more durable active lifestyle in the long run, ultimately boosting your mental health and making your body (and mind!) happier and healthier.
Examples of low-intensity workouts
One of the best parts of low-intensity and low-impact workouts is their flexibility and the ability to cater your workouts to your own levels, needs, and goals. With all the options out there, it can be extremely overwhelming to structure your own workouts, so I’ve compiled a couple of examples to get started.
- Beginner Flexibility Routine (Stretches for the Inflexible) by MadFit
This flexibility and stretching routine is the perfect R&R session for the day after an intense HIIT session, that morning when your body is aching, or when you just want to get your blood flowing. Stretching is such an underrated way to move your body, and let’s be honest; it hurts so good. We could all use a little more stretching; there is no such thing as too much.
- 30 Minute LISS Cardio Workout at Home- No Equipment! By Tone and Tighten
This low-impact, low-intensity workout is perfect for an at-home workout session with no equipment. It’s convenient, flexible, and will definitely get your heart rate up and your sweat dripping.
- Full Body Yoga for Strength and Flexibility by Growingannanas
Another underrated workout: yoga. Yoga is only intense as you make it, but this workout for strength and flexibility will get your heart pumping. Yoga is a great way to improve strength and balance, manage stress, and improve energy and vitality.
- Indoor Fat-Burning Walking Workout (Low Impact) by Growwithjo
Walking outside around your neighborhood or college campus is another great example of a low-intensity workout, but this fat-burning indoor walking workout will surprise you. (Another plus: the instructor makes this workout so much fun!)
- Low-Impact Cardio Workout for ALL fitness levels by Body Project
LISS workouts don’t necessarily have to be extremely low-intensity; they can be low impact too. This low-impact cardio workout is definitely more moderately intense but still isn’t a HIIT workout. If you’re looking to break a sweat, this is a great place to get started. Ease yourself into it and focus on your form; in the end, be proud of yourself for getting it done!
Are they better than other workouts?
Some final thoughts: low-intensity, low-impact, steady-state workouts are great for you. They are an exceptional addition to your personal workout ritual and can transform your body and mind when catered to your personal needs, goals, and levels.
It’s tough to say if low-intensity workouts are “better” than any other workouts. Finding an exercise ritual that works for your body and your mental health is the most critical. It can be extremely beneficial to balance a couple of days of HIIT with some low-intensity sessions to allow your body time to rest and recover; alternating the two can significantly improve stamina while improving cardiovascular health.
Just to say it one more time (hope you don’t hate me yet!): every time you’re getting out and moving and your blood flowing, you are doing amazing things for your body and mind. Try out different workouts to see what works for you so that you’re able to craft your perfect workout ritual that is sustainable in the long run.
To wrap up, in the words of holistic health guru Sarah Tilse from The Health Code Daily Podcast, “If you are training to be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself, ask yourself: What do you enjoy? What do you feel good after?” That is what is best for you!
Written by Morgan Taylor
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