what is LISS cardio and is it right for you

What is LISS Cardio? Is It Right for You as a Woman Over 50?

Last Updated on November 19, 2023 by Candi Randolph

Regular exercise is always important, but as we get older it is even more essential. Having said that, I know that my mid 60s body doesn’t do what it used to. Yes, I’m livin’ the dream, every day. Always grateful for a new day and what it may hold, of course, but experiencing the aging process first hand.

So, I’m always interested in learning about different ways to exercise. I came across the term and wondered, what is LISS cardio? What does it mean? Could it be beneficial for women over 50 and over 60?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I get on a same-old same-old exercise routine, and am reluctant (or too lazy?) to incorporate change into my aerobic and strength training workouts.

So the idea of LISS cardio workouts was particularly intriguing. It caught my attention, and as I’ve researched and learned more about it, I think it will work very well for me. In fact, it already is. But more about that later.

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What is LISS Cardio, anyway?

what is LISS cardio?

LISS, or Low-intensity steady-state, is a method of cardiovascular exercise that entails doing some type of aerobic activity at low to moderate intensity for a continuous period of time.

The ‘continuous’ time period usually means an extended period of time, with a goal of keeping the heart rate around 50 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. At this rate you should be able to hold a conversation and not feel breathless, if that helps you visualize the intensity.

Here’s another way to think about the intensity level of a LISS cardio workout. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being minimum effort and 10 being your absolute highest intensity, a LISS workout would be about a 6.

You may have heard LISS referred to as low-intensity exercise, continuous cardiovascular exercise, SST (steady-state training), or LSD (long slow distance training).

Whatever the term you are familiar with, the goal is to keep a low to moderate pace of aerobic activity for an extended period of time. Think 45 to 60 minutes of time with a consistent level of intensity.

Why is LISS so popular?

I think of LISS cardio as the friendly and approachable type of aerobic exercise. And that is the appeal of it, really.

You don’t have to train for weeks and work your way up to LISS cardio.

Yes, your body is working, your heart rate is increasing, and you’re putting in the effort. But it’s doable.

And, you can see results over time without strenuous effort. Remember that this should be part of an overall workout program including strength training and functional fitness.

What’s the difference between LISS and HIIT?

HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, alternates between bursts of peak intensity and slower recovery periods. You push yourself to the limit for short periods of time in this type of aerobic workout.

With LISS cardio, the time period is longer, but the intensity is low to moderate.

You may decide that a “slower and steady” approach to aerobic workouts is preferable at this time in your life. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, friends. The key is to do something for your body aerobically, on a regular basis.

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What are the benefits of LISS Cardio?

There is much to like about a workout that includes LISS cardio. As women in midlife we want to be kind to our bodies, minds, and spirits. We want to provide the self-care that we deserve, including the investment of time to remain strong and fit.

Similar to other types of exercise, LISS cardio can help reduce stress, improve blood flow, and lower the risk of heart disease.

Let’s take a look at some of the overall benefits of the LISS cardio philosophy:

  • Any fitness level is able to exercise using LISS. You don’t have to train for it, it’s kind to your body, and frankly, it’s easy.
  • LISS workouts are easier on the joints, muscles, and tissues, so injuries are less likely.
  • With a LISS cardio workout you’re putting less stress on your heart and body, so your recovery time is quicker.
  • A LISS cardio workout can improve your body’s ability to use fat as fuel instead of using glycogen stored in your muscles.

The lower intensity and prolonged nature of LISS cardio targets fat stores in the body. It naturally unlocks your body’s ability to burn fat by allowing for a slower burn. It may take longer to reach your fat loss or weight loss goals, but it is a low intensity, do-able form of exercise that might be the perfect fit for your workout routine.

How to Calculate Heart Rate

220 – your age
E.g 220 – 55 = 165 max heart rate

So for LISS 50-65% of your max heart rate would be 83 – 107

What are some examples of LISS activities?

LISS activities are probably quite familiar to you, and in fact, you might do them as part of a regular workout routine.

Here are some examples:

  • walking at a moderate pace
  • light or gentle jogging
  • bike riding
  • hiking
  • treadmill
  • exercise bike
  • rower
  • elliptical
  • swimming

Examples of LISS cardio workouts

Let’s get a bit more specific, and consider these LISS cardio possibilities:

  1. Use the treadmill, cross-trainer, or stationary exercise bike at a moderate pace for 30 to 60 minutes.
  2. Walk 2 to 4 miles at a pace of about 14 to 17 minutes per mile if your fitness level allows.
  3. Participate in a yoga class that keeps your heart rate between 40% and 60% of maximum.
  4. Combine exercises that are easy to moderate in intensity, like overhead reaches, marching in place, slow and steady squats, and dynamic stretches.

If you’re a beginner and just figuring out what is LISS cardio, 30 minutes is a good starting point. When you can do it and the time works in your schedule, aim for up to 60 minutes.

How often can you do LISS?

You can do a LISS cardio workout as often as you like. Just keep in mind that it is part of a balanced fitness routine that includes strength training, aerobic training and functional fitness.

We still need to keep our muscles strong, friends!

What is LISS Cardio? Now We Know!

What I learned about LISS cardio workouts was that I already had incorporated them into my workout routine.

I’d decided a month or so ago to stretch out my stationary bike exercises to at least 30 minutes per session, sometimes 45.

And, my indoor walking workouts were enhanced with more stretches, lunges, and marching in place.

I may not have given the actual intensity + duration combination the name of LISS cardio, but it is exactly what I was doing. It has really reinforced to me that my decision to go this route instead trying to convince myself to use the HIIT method was valid, useful, and good for me as a woman in my 60s.

How about you? Will LISS cardio become a component of your workout routine?

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