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Slow Cardio vs HIIT: Which is Better for You?

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, two of the most popular options are slow cardio and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, and which one you choose ultimately depends on your goals, fitness level, and personal preferences. In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each, so you can decide which type of cardio is right for you.

What is Slow Cardio?

Slow cardio is exactly what it sounds like – low-intensity, steady-state cardiovascular exercise. This can include activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, or using the elliptical machine at a moderate pace. The goal of slow cardio is to maintain a steady heart rate for an extended period of time, typically between 30 minutes to an hour or more.

Pros of Slow Cardio:

  1. Low-impact: Slow cardio is generally low-impact, meaning it’s easy on the joints and muscles. This makes it a great option for those who are recovering from an injury or have joint pain.
  2. Great for endurance: Slow cardio is an excellent way to build endurance and increase your cardiovascular fitness over time. By maintaining a steady heart rate for an extended period of time, you’ll improve your body’s ability to use oxygen more efficiently.
  3. Easy to do: Slow cardio is a relatively simple form of exercise that doesn’t require any special equipment or training. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and a little bit of motivation.

Cons of Slow Cardio:

  1. Time-consuming: Because slow cardio is typically done for longer periods of time, it can be time-consuming. If you have a busy schedule, it may be difficult to find time for extended cardio sessions.
  2. Limited calorie burn: Slow cardio burns fewer calories compared to HIIT, which means it may not be the best choice if your primary goal is weight loss.



What is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of cardiovascular exercise that alternates between short bursts of high-intensity exercise and periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. For example, you might sprint for 30 seconds, then walk or jog for 60 seconds, and repeat this pattern for 20-30 minutes.

Pros of HIIT:

  1. Time-efficient: Because HIIT workouts are typically shorter than slow cardio sessions, they’re a great option for those with a busy schedule. You can get a great workout in as little as 15-20 minutes.
  2. Increased calorie burn: HIIT workouts burn more calories compared to slow cardio, which can be beneficial for weight loss.
  3. Variety: HIIT workouts can be done with a variety of exercises, such as running, cycling, or bodyweight exercises, which keeps things interesting and prevents boredom.

Cons of HIIT:

  1. High-impact: Because HIIT involves high-intensity exercise, it can be hard on the joints and muscles. This makes it less suitable for those with injuries or joint pain.
  2. Requires more effort: HIIT workouts are more demanding than slow cardio and require a higher level of fitness. If you’re just starting out, HIIT may be too intense.

Which is Better: Slow Cardio or HIIT?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on your goals and personal preferences. If you’re looking to improve your endurance and cardiovascular fitness, slow cardio may be the better option. On the other hand, if you’re looking to burn more calories and don’t have a lot of time to exercise, HIIT may be the way to go.

It’s important to remember that both forms of exercise have their own unique benefits, and it’s possible to incorporate both into your fitness routine. For example, you could do slow cardio on some days and HIIT on others. By switching things up, you’ll keep your workouts fresh and prevent boredom.


In general, it’s a good idea to consult with a fitness professional before starting a new exercise routine. They can help you determine which type of cardio is best for your fitness level, goals, and any existing injuries or health conditions.

Final Thoughts

Slow cardio and HIIT are two popular forms of cardiovascular exercise, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. Slow cardio is a great way to build endurance and improve cardiovascular fitness, while HIIT is a more efficient way to burn calories and improve overall fitness.

Ultimately, the best type of cardio for you depends on your goals and personal preferences. By incorporating both forms of exercise into your fitness routine, you can reap the benefits of each and keep your workouts interesting and varied.

For a purpose designed program based on your goals and individual fitness levels contact Nathan from Picks PT on 0420998460. We service areas in the Macarthur region, Wollondilly, Camden, Campbelltown, and surrounding areas.

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