Low-Intensity Steady-State Cardio: What It Is & Why It’s Underrated

By Christiana Purves

by ELYSIAN Magazine

When it comes to cardio workouts, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) often takes the spotlight. However, low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio has its own set of benefits that should not be overlooked. LISS cardio refers to exercises performed at a moderate intensity for an extended period. While it may not provide the same adrenaline rush as HIIT, LISS cardio offers unique advantages that can contribute to your overall fitness and well-being.

In fact, as little as 150 minutes of LISS per week or around 20 minutes per day can lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. 

Let’s explore the benefits of low-intensity steady-state cardio.


Fat burning

LISS cardio is an effective way to burn calories and promote fat loss. When performing exercises like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming at a steady pace, your body primarily uses fat as a fuel source. This sustained effort taps into stored fat reserves and can aid in weight management and body composition improvements.


Lower impact

Unlike high-impact exercises that put stress on joints and muscles, LISS cardio is gentler on the body. This makes it an excellent option for individuals who are recovering from an injury, have joint issues, or prefer low-impact workouts. The reduced stress on the body decreases the risk of injury and allows for a longer duration of exercise without excessive fatigue.


Enhanced cardiovascular health

Believe it or not, activities like walking can be more beneficial to your cardiovascular health than intense HIIT exercises. LISS cardio workouts improve cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart and lungs. The moderate intensity sustained over a longer duration improves the efficiency of the cardiovascular system, leading to increased endurance and improved oxygen utilization. Regular LISS cardio can help lower resting heart rate, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.


Active recovery

After an intense workout or weightlifting session, engaging in LISS cardio can promote active recovery. The gentle movement increases blood flow to the muscles, aiding in the removal of metabolic waste products and reducing muscle soreness. LISS cardio can help you recover faster between high-intensity workouts, allowing for better overall performance and reduced risk of overtraining.


Mental well-being

LISS cardio is known for its calming effect on the mind. Engaging in activities like walking or jogging outdoors in nature or using low-impact cardio equipment can be meditative and reduce stress levels. It provides an opportunity for solitude, reflection, and relaxation, which can positively impact mental health and overall well-being.


Long-term sustainability 

LISS cardio is an exercise approach that can be maintained for extended periods. It doesn’t place excessive stress on the body, making it sustainable for individuals of different fitness levels and ages. LISS cardio can be incorporated into a well-rounded fitness routine, serving as a foundation for overall health and complementing other forms of exercise.


Versatility and accessibility

LISS cardio can be performed in various ways and environments. It doesn’t require special equipment or a gym membership. Activities such as walking, cycling, swimming, or even dancing can be effective LISS cardio options. You have the flexibility to choose activities that you enjoy and that align with your lifestyle, making it easier to adhere to a consistent exercise routine.

Incorporating LISS cardio into your fitness routine can provide numerous benefits for your physical and mental well-being. While it may not offer the same immediate intensity as HIIT workouts, the long-term advantages of sustained moderate exercise should not be underestimated. 

Remember, consistency is key. Aim for regular LISS cardio sessions to reap the rewards of improved fat burning, cardiovascular health, recovery, and overall fitness.

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