You may have heard of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), but do you know about LISS? It’s a fancy way of saying low-intensity steady-state cardio. We’re talking about a nice walk or not-too-tough spin down your local bike path. And while HIIT has gotten a lot of buzz because it’s quick, intense, and boosts cardio health, a LISS (low-intensity steady-state) workout has many of the same health benefits—if not more, in our opinion!—and your joints might thank you for making the switch.
Here’s what you need to know—and how to get started.
LISS is a low-intensity cardio workout that you do at a steady, moderate pace for at least 30 to 60 minutes a session.
Just because “low-intensity” is in the name doesn’t mean you’re not working. In fact, the goal is to reach a target heart rate of 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. (If your smartwatch doesn’t tell you these deets, think of it as exercising hard enough to break a little sweat but not so hard that you can’t carry on a conversation.)
So what is it about this type of movement that could help your weight care journey? Check out the science-backed perks:
There is an ongoing debate about whether LISS or HIIT should be your go-to when it comes to weight loss. The thing is, they’re both great options, and it really depends on your preference. But one study published in Obesity Reviews found no difference in weight or fat loss between those who did LISS workouts versus HIIT, as long as the calorie burn was the same. So, you may have to log more sweaty minutes with LISS, but the results are comparable.
Compared to HIIT, however, LISS may reduce and redistribute visceral fat (the dangerous abdominal fat surrounding your organs), which is an important predictor of your metabolic health.
Improved aerobic fitness and energy
LISS can lead to better stamina during workouts and help your body use oxygen more efficiently—meaning that your workouts could last longer without you wearing out as quickly. One study found that those who participated in a total of 24 steady-state exercise sessions over eight weeks had significant improvements in VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body uses during exercise) and peak power output (the greatest amount of work over a period of time). That can translate into a stronger heart, increased energy, and improvements in other measures of good health.
Because it’s low-intensity, LISS is a good choice for beginners and those with joint pain or who are prone to injury. It puts less stress on your body than more intense types of movement, and the recovery time can be quicker. So you can get right back to it without being sore as you would with HIIT workouts.
In fact, a small study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in 2021 found that too many HIIT sessions affected the body on a cellular level and led to extreme fatigue.
A more relaxing way to exercise
The calorie burn is a plus, but many of us work out to manage stress from work, improve our health, and socialize with friends. And low-intensity exercise may be more enjoyable than those HIIT sessions. (In one study, those who did HIIT enjoyed exercising less than those doing LISS workouts ). And that’s no small benefit. Because we all know that we’re more likely to continue something we find joy in!
Ready to try it? We’re glad to hear! Some types of LISS include doing these activities at a moderate pace:
Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga
Walking up and down the stairs
You can start with as little as 10 minutes of movement a day—and add five minutes from week to week.
For those on a weight care journey, 200 to 300 minutes per week of low to moderate-intensity exercise appears to be optimal for weight loss and maintenance. Make that time fun by catching up with a friend while you hit the trail for a walk, or hopping on your stationary bike while you watch the new episode of Yellowstone.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to increase the intensity or length of your workout over time to keep challenging your body. But you can’t argue with getting stronger and fitter!
Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.