There’s a lot of disagreement in the fitness community over which type of cardio routine is the most effective – there’s high-intensity interval training (HIIT), long and steady cardio (like jogging), and slow and steady (walking). Each of these types of cardio exercise has various pros and cons, so let’s take a look at which form of cardio might be best for your needs.
HIIT (Sprints): Improves Anaerobic Capabilities
Putting in a 100% effort for a short burst of time can help improve your body’s ability to perform anaerobic exercise, or exercise without the usual amounts of oxygen getting to your muscles.
This is especially useful in a lot of sports, where the pace tends to be more stop-and-go and requires huge amounts of effort followed by a short resting period. Basically, HIIT drills are ideal for people looking to improve their athletic performance such as speed, explosiveness, and so on.
Long & Steady (Jogging): Builds Aerobic Endurance
Sticking to a pace that’s 75-80% of your heart’s top capability is the best way to improve your aerobic endurance and overall cardiovascular fitness. To reap the maximum benefits, you should stick to this consistent pace for at least 25 minutes.
The difference between jogging and sprinting that leads to a slower, steadier pace being better for cardiovascular fitness has to do with the way that your muscles turn fats and carbohydrates into energy.
Essentially, anaerobic exercises like sprinting can only be done for short periods of time, because without adequate oxygen, your body burns through its stores of glycogen and produces lactic acid, leading to muscle fatigue.
On the other hand, slower paces can be sustained for longer periods of time, giving the heart muscle more time to get used to pumping blood more effectively and allowing your body to learn how to use fuel more efficiently.