CommunityBrowse groupsBlogEtiquetteInvite Your friendsSuccess Stories


what is the most effective cardio?

I am someone who hates the gym and working out...I walk all of the time and take the stairs whenever I can but I feel like I need to boost my weightloss with some more cardio. what is the most effective and highest calorie burning activity for the least time? ( god I sound lazy haha) I was thinking of trying to start running in the park but is jumping rope or doing jumping jacks just as effective?

Sat. Dec 17, 12:52am

Add comment  
If you can't get to the gym, walking is incredibly effective. Just make sure you are walking at a FAST pace, and if you can incorporate some uphills, so much the better. If you can go to the gym, try the elliptical machine. That burns some serious calories: a 20- or 30-minute workout will earn you a lot of progress.

Saturday, December 17, 2005, 1:24 AM

Add comment
Running is generally considered to be the most efficient way to burn calories as it uses the largest muscles to the greatest extent in the shortest period of time. The drawback is that it can be hard on the joints.

I personally consider cycling to be the best cardio exercise for me. I can ride a bike for hours at a time, burning nominally 500 calories per hour. The major drawback is that cycling outdoors is limited to the warmer months in most parts of the U.S. for all but the most devoted cyclists. Cycling can also be a bit pricey compared to other forms of exercise.

As a suggestion, you might consider finding several exercise options that you enjoy and that you can do under various conditions of weather, temperature, season, etc. This will also be much easier on the body than doing primarily only one activity.

The link will take you to a "Calories Burned Per Hour" calculator where you can determine the approximate calories you would burn for various exercises. This might make it easeir for you to decide what exercise(s) you would prefer to do.



Saturday, December 17, 2005, 11:20 AM

Add comment
I've also heard that running is the most efficient cardio.
Personally, my knees just wont take it, so I use the elliptical trainers. I have read that they are a good alternative for people who can't run. I turn up the resistance on it so I can feel my muscles working, but it keeps my knees happy and burns calories quickly.

Saturday, December 17, 2005, 2:06 PM

Add comment
The Slide Board

The slide board is an incredibly fast way to get your heart rate up. In less than a minute you are at maximum heart rate and can easily keep it there are long as you want with a minimum of effort. And most of all, it's SO MUCH FUN!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2005, 3:09 PM

Add comment
The NY Times ran an article on this a couple of months ago. It's now in the archives, so I've posted an excerpt here:

Physical Culture; Best In Gym
Published: November 24, 2005

WALK into most gyms, and it is obvious which cardio machines are the favorites. Quite often rows of treadmills are parked on prime real estate in front of the televisions. Close by, stationary bikes also crowd the floor. And rightly so: these are the two most popular machines for a cardiovascular workout at health clubs. Lately their dominance has been challenged by a newcomer, the elliptical motion trainer, a machine that aims to replicate running without the stress on joints.

But of all the machines at health clubs, which one is really the best, the latest fads aside? Stair climbers, which were a huge hit in the early 1990's, are used by scarcely more than half as many exercisers today, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. Does that mean they are no longer effective?

These questions are particularly apropos today, when many feasts of turkey and trimmings will add up to 3,000 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise. Leaving aside New Year's Day and its compulsory rituals of atonement, perhaps no other moment illustrates the uphill battle for fitness than Thanksgiving. Even the most dedicated exerciser is unlikely to run the four hours it would take a 160-pound person to burn off such a heavy meal.

Once folks do get around to working off the pumpkin pie and Zinfandel, which machine at the gym will help the pounds come off quickest? Which will do it without undue joint stress? And which will best condition the heart?

To help gymgoers make an informed choice at the unofficial start of the indoor exercise season, Thursday Styles asked 10 experts -- physiologists, researchers, doctors and personal trainers -- to rate the five most popular cardio machines according to these three criteria plus two others: the overall muscle conditioning they offer; and how tedious regular workouts feel, or what we dubbed the ''monotony factor.''

The experts not only chose a winner among the treadmill, stationary bicycle, stair climber, elliptical trainer and rowing machine, they also offered advice on how to get the most out of the equipment.

The winner, by a solid margin, is the elliptical trainer. Our 10 experts thought it had many virtues, chiefly that it allows a low-impact, high-energy workout that is fun. Used correctly, an elliptical trainer works the muscles of the central core as well as the lower body, although some experts think research is needed to determine how hard a workout its users really get.

''These devices are not always effective in providing much resistance to movement,'' said Edward F. Coyle, the director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin. ''People seem to be able to move effortlessly.''

But for the most part the panel of experts felt that the elliptical was the best all-around choice.

The rowing machine, which has plummeted in popularity in the last 15 years, ranked a surprising second in our survey, tied with the treadmill.

Several panelists argued that rowing machines are highly underrated; when used properly they offer a thorough workout of the major muscle groups, including the back, hips, arms and legs. But despite its advantages, rowing machines demand an intensity of effort that many exercisers find too challenging.

Whatever machine might become the next big thing, the experts cautioned that no one of them is right for everyone at all times. Instead, gymgoers should rotate among machines at least once a week. Cross-training, as this is called, addresses a variety of muscles and will help to avoid injuries from overuse.

''People are always asking me, 'What is the best exercise?' '' said Dr. Paul D. Thompson, a cardiologist at Hartford Hospital. ''My answer always is, 'What do you enjoy doing?' ''

The best exercise machine, the experts agreed, is the one that gets you moving each day.

Devising the Ratings

Thursday Styles asked 10 fitness experts to give five gym machines ratings of 1 to 10 in five categories, with 10 being the highest score. (A high score in wear and tear means the machine is relatively easy on joints and tendons, and a high score in monotony factor means the machine is not all that boring.)

The experts' scores were computed for each machine. The overall rankings reflect the total of all scores.


Saturday, December 17, 2005, 4:09 PM

Add comment
Here's the rest of the article:

STATIONARY BIKE -- PROS: People with knee or ankle problems may be ''more comfortable using a bike than running,'' Dr. Chodzko-Zajko said. Stationary bikes come in at least three styles: upright, recumbent and those for Spinning classes led by an instructor. Some models offer a ton of feedback. ''Spinning bikes are typically used in a class setting so the intensity tends to be higher and monotony lower,'' Ms. Neporent said. CONS: Indoor bikes that offer little pedal resistance, Ms. Neporent warned, are ''so far removed from the outdoor experience, it just feels boring and ineffective.'' Cycling has some risk of injury too. ''Constant identical motion can lead to tendonitis,'' Dr. Thompson noted.

ELLIPTICAL TRAINER -- PROS: Liz Neporent, a fitness author and a personal trainer, compared the elliptical to ''running without the wear and tear on the joints.'' Joggers, especially those with knee and back problems, use them to limit the pounding they subject their bodies to. Because standing tall on an elliptical requires balance, a user could potentially work their core muscles and their heart. ''If you work hard and stick to your routine,'' said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, the chairman of the kinesiology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, ''there is no reason why an elliptical workout cannot be just as rigorous as running or biking.'' CONS: Dr. Chodzko-Zajko also admitted it was ''easier to coast on an elliptical machine than on a treadmill.'' Dr. Reed Humphrey, a professor of physical therapy at Idaho State University in Pocatello, cautioned that ''we are still getting a grip on the overall physiological effects,'' so users should progress slowly. Michael J. Berry, a professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., said, ''Anyone with balance problems should be especially careful.''

TREADMILL -- PROS: The treadmill is ever-popular because ''running is one of the best ways to get into shape and burn calories,'' said Dr. Jim Stray-Gundersen, a sports doctor and an adjunct professor of health at the University of Utah. Running surfaces of treadmills have ''improved sharply in recent years to absorb impact,'' Dr. Humphrey said. Because jogging while watching TV is easy to do, workouts pass quicker. CONS: Running puts a ''fair amount of stress'' on joints, Dr. Thompson warned, ''especially for the average American, who is quite heavy.'' Also keep in mind: treadmill running does not burn as many calories as running outdoors.

STAIR CLIMBER -- PROS: Our experts ranked stair climbers high in terms of cardiovascular benefit and calories burned. And they aren't hard for beginners to figure out. CONS: It's hard work. ''Climbing stairs leaves one pretty wiped out and not anxious to jump back on,'' Dr. Humphrey said. And even when a participant uses the full range of motion, it still only targets a limited amount of muscles.

ROWING MACHINE -- PROS: While most of these other machines don't work upper body well, a rowing machine does. And, Dr. Stray-Gundersen noted, it is ''an excellent all-around calorie burning device.'' CONS: Most people struggle to figure out how to use a rowing machine correctly, so it tends to appeal only to a small but avid following of rowers and self-taught exercisers who want a full-body cardio workout. Another disadvantage is that rowing machines ''tend to place the exerciser low to the ground'' where it's ''more difficult to watch TV or check out the other clients,'' Dr. Chodzko-Zajko said.

Elliptical Machine
Cardio Benefit: 80
Calories Burned: 76
Muscles Used: 78
Wear And Tear: 76
Monotony Factor: 59
Grand Totals: 369

Cardio Benefit: 88
Calories Burned: 86
Muscles Used: 68
Wear And Tear: 49
Monotony Factor: 49
Grand Totals: 340

Rowing Machine
Cardio Benefit: 78
Calories Burned: 71
Muscles Used: 83
Wear And Tear: 68
Monotony Factor: 40
Grand Totals: 340

Stair Climber
Cardio Benefit: 79
Calories Burned: 77
Muscles Used: 69
Wear And Tear: 59
Monotony Factor: 50
Grand Totals: 334

Stationary Bike
Cardio Benefit: 75
Calories Burned: 69
Muscles Used: 61
Wear And Tear: 59
Monotony Factor: 49
Grand Totals: 313

Saturday, December 17, 2005, 4:09 PM

Add comment
ArcTrainer or Spinning

Not a lot of gyms have ArcTrainers (Boston Sports Club and NYSC) do. Unbelievably good cardio burn in a short amount of time.

Spinning rocks for calorie burn, too. Right up close with running and tennis. Depending, I can burn anywhere between 500-800 calories in a 45 minute - 60 minute class. This according to my heart rate monitor.

Remember, the "calories burned" feature on cardio machines is usually way off - overestimating. Just be aware.

Monday, December 19, 2005, 12:52 PM

Add comment

I don't know the numbers or anything, but swimming is a great workout without some of the "gym"ness and all... I agree that mixing it up is best. Do some walking, some running (trails are easier on your joints if they're not paved), some jumping jacks, jumping rope, classes that you enjoy (boxing, athletic boot camp, spinning, etc), swimming, etc... Good luck!

Monday, December 19, 2005, 1:30 PM

Add comment
Strength Training

Introduce strength training. Muscles burn calories all the time! You can get a good strength workout in 30 minutes with only dumbells/soupcans!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005, 3:17 PM

Add comment
Burning Calories

Running by far -- but tough on the knees. I alternate running (3 x per week) and spinning (studio cycling) (3 times per week) and try to do about 20 minutes on the rowing machine. I also try to do different runs -- a longer, slower run, shorter more intesnse run. And add some weight training (20 minutes 3 times per week). Lost 25 pounds a year ago with this routine and have kept it off. Now for that last ten . . .

Wednesday, December 21, 2005, 7:01 PM

Add comment
Do it all baby -- for about five minutes each. Then pick the one you have the "most fun" with. Switch it up for variety's sake. The most effective cardio is the cardio you will actually stick with! Good luck :c)

Monday, December 26, 2005, 4:06 PM

Add comment
How hard you work.

It's not just about which exercise you do, but also about your intensity how hard you work at it. Twins can both work out 40 min on the elipticle if twin #1 has her tension cranked up to 6 & keeps her speed above 9 MPH & twin #2 tension is at 3 & going 8MPH. The first twin is working at a higher intensity & will burn more calories. Cranking up the intensity, cranks up the calorie burn!

Saturday, April 29, 2006, 1:36 AM

Add comment
Great article about the workout equipment, BTW! :-)

Sunday, April 30, 2006, 12:06 PM

Add comment
The most effective cardio is the one you actually do. Mix it up, find a couple that you like, and make sure you get your heart rate up. If it's a constant battle to make yourself go run, it doesn't matter that running is the most efficient form of exercise because you won't go and do it.

Monday, May 01, 2006, 11:04 AM

Add comment
the most effective cardio is the cardio you truely enjoy!

Monday, May 01, 2006, 12:07 PM

Add comment

Based on my experience, running is the most efficient way. All the swimming, elliptical and cycling are great, but it's hard to do them at optimal high level continously for 30 min. But running you can! Running is also a weight-bearing exercise (unlike cycling and swimming) - doubles the efficiency as you fight the gravity. Even 45 min sweaty vigorous spinning does not slim me down like 30 min of good running outdoors. And I always feel that calorie-burn counter on elliptical trainers at the gym exaggerates the calories.

Monday, May 01, 2006, 1:08 PM

Add comment
My 2 Cents

I know a lot of people have already said this, but yes I've also read that running burns the most calories. I found my source from Runners World magazine, and they did a study comparing walking to running.

I was VERY surprised to learn that if you were run at, say, 4 mph and then compare the calories you burned if you were walk at 4mph, you will have burned more when you were running. So to make it simple, if you and a walking buddy were going on a walk together and you decided to jog it, instead of walking with her, at the end of your route you will have burned twice the calories that she did, even though you were by each other's side the entire time and went the same distance.

But running is very difficult to do if you have bad knees, or are overweight. I find that I get amazing results from upping the incline on the treadmill while I'm walking. The key is just remembering to push yourself. You'd be amazed at what the human body is capable of.

Monday, May 01, 2006, 5:44 PM

Add comment
Running v. walking

I wear a heart rate monitor during all my exercise. I typically burn 8 to 9 calories a minute running at a steady pace. I burn about 5 calories a minute really power walking, and about 6 per minute power walking uphill. So, if I want to burn 300 calories in a given work out, I can run for 35 minutes or power walk for 60 minutes. Both are effective workouts.

I feel that running has really increased my lung and heart capacity, and it seems more "effective" because you get more out of a shorter workout.

Monday, May 01, 2006, 11:27 PM

Add comment

Related Content:

How To Lose Weight- The Basics
Weight Watchers Points System
The Fat Smash Diet
The Eat To Live Diet
The Beck Diet Solution
How To Get The Motivation To Lose Weight


How To Be Successful Using PEERtrainer

How To Burn Fat
Online Weight Loss Support- How It Works
Does Green Tea Help You Lose Weight?
Tips On Using PEERtrainer
Visit The PEERtrainer Community
Diet and Fitness Resources


Weight Watchers Meetings
Learning To Inspire Others: You Already Are
Writing Down Your Daily Workouts
Spending Money On A Personal Trainer?
How I Became A Marathon Runner


Preventive Health

How To Prevent Injuries During Your Workout
Flu Season: Should You Take The Flu Shot?
Are You Really Ready To Start PEERtrainer?
Super Foods That Can Boost Your Energy
Reversing Disease Through Nutrition

New Diet and Fitness Articles:

Weight Watchers Points Plus
How To Adjust Your Body To Exercise
New: Weight Watchers Momentum Program
New: PEERtrainer Blog Archive
Review Of The New Weight Watchers Momentum Program

Weight Loss Motivation by Joshua Wayne:

Why Simple Goal Setting Is Not Enough
How To Delay Short Term Gratification
How To Stay Motivated
How To Exercise With A Busy Schedule

Real World Nutrition and Fitness Questions

Can Weight Lifting Help You Lose Weight?
Are Protein Drinks Safe?
Nutrition As Medicine?

Everyday Weight Loss Tips

How To Eat Healthy At A Party
How To Eat Out And Still Lose Weight
The Three Bite Rule
Tips On How To Stop A Binge