Published on 29 Sep 2023

What is LISS Cardio? LISS vs HITT

Every day new information about weight loss seems to show up in our social media feeds and email inboxes. While it can be confusing and even contradict what you read the day before, one fact remains undisputed. Exercise helps you to burn calories and shed extra pounds. That’s why 30 minutes of daily activity is part of the Nutrisystem weight loss plan.

The Appeal of Low-Intensity Workouts

man doing elliptical LISS workout

You don’t need to join a gym, run for miles or even break a sweat to get the benefits of being active. Low-intensity, steady state (or LISS) exercise can be as effective as the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that has become so popular.

Understanding LISS vs. HIIT

LISS workouts gently elevate your heart rate and dial up your metabolism through an extended period of constant yet moderate exertion. That is, with LISS you are moving relatively slowly for a long time. You should be able to talk comfortably during a LISS workout.

In contrast, HIIT sessions are fast and challenging, with brief breaks in between each exercise. You will not be able to talk during a HIIT workout and your heart rate will get close to its maximum. You can do HIIT in about 15 minutes. A typical LISS session lasts about 45 minutes.

LISS or HIIT: Which is Better for Weight Loss?

woman walking doing Liss cardio

You may be surprised to find out that LISS training is just as effective as HIIT when you’re trying to lose excess weight. In a study reported in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, a group of sedentary (not active) subjects were divided up and assigned to one of three groups: high-intensity exercise, mild-intensity interval training and LISS workouts.

Enjoyment and Effectiveness in Exercise

After eight weeks, the researchers noted that the subjects in all groups had similar levels of improvement in their overall cardiovascular fitness. The participants in the LISS group reported, however, that they got more enjoyment from their exercise than the other two groups.

Scientific Evidence: HIIT and LISS Workouts

Man on stationary Bicycle doing LISS cardio

HIIT and LISS workouts had similar benefits for overweight people in a study by a team of scientists at the University of Bath in the U.K. The participants all ate a reduced-calorie diet while half of them did HIIT sessions and the others did LISS training.

The Importance of Caloric Expenditure in Exercise

After three weeks, the researchers did thorough evaluations of the participants and found that both groups lost the same amount of weight. They all showed comparable improvements in their fat mass, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The scientists also observed that the participants in both groups experienced “positive changes in the activation of genes within fat cells,” meaning the exercise had triggered their bodies to burn fat.

The report concludes, “what really matters is how many calories were used up by exercising in total, not so much the intensity of the exercise sessions.”

Getting Started with LISS Exercise

woman walking or jogging outside

LISS is the ideal approach to exercise if you’re new to regular activity, dealing with pain, or are concerned about your joints. However, you should always speak to a doctor before starting a new exercise routine to ensure it is safe for you.

You can choose from a variety of ways to do a LISS workout. Walking is the easiest, because you can do it anywhere and you need no special gear other than a pair of supportive shoes.

A brisk walk will burn 133 calories in 30 minutes (for a 155-pound person), according to Harvard Health. It doesn’t matter whether you walk outside while talking to a friend or inside on a treadmill as you catch up on one of your favorite shows. The key is to keep moving steadily for at least 45 minutes.

Different Activities for LISS Exercise

Lots of other types of activities work as LISS exercise, so you can mix it up to keep yourself from getting bored. Riding a bike outside or a spin cycle indoors at a low, steady pace raises your heart rate, keeps the pressure off your hips and knees, and can be fun for the whole family.

If you enjoy golf, walking the course with your bag of clubs gives you benefits of a LISS workout. Kayaking lets you experience the pleasures of being out in nature while you get in low-intensity exercise. Slow and steady swimming serves as LISS training and helps to tone muscles throughout your body.

Enjoying LISS Exercise While Doing Everyday Tasks

Person Enjoying LISS Exercise While Doing Everyday Tasks Like Vacuuming House

In 45 minutes of cutting the grass, raking leaves or vacuuming your home, you get a LISS workout and you can cross off something from your to-do list. You can also have fun while doing a LISS session with ballroom or line dancing. No matter which activity you choose, you’ll be burning calories and speeding up your weight loss progress while treating your body gently.

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