Should You Do Cardio Every Time You Work Out?

Wondering how often you should do cardio? While most gym-goers hit the treadmill each time they work out, there are no set rules in this regard. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of steady-state cardio or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week, in addition to strength training. You can also combine steady-state cardio and high-intensity training, such as hiking uphill or jumping rope.

Both aerobic exercise and strength training can improve your health. For example, cardiovascular workouts may boost brainpower, protect against heart disease, and reduce diabetes risk, notes the Cleveland Clinic. In the long run, they may also strengthen your joints and improve functional fitness. Dr. Erik Van Iterson told the Cleveland Clinic that cardio "combats depression, improves your self-esteem, and releases tension-fighting hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine." As a result, it can lift your mood and make it easier to deal with stress.

Considering these aspects, should you do cardio every time you work out? And how much cardio is too much? Let's find out.

How often should you do cardio for optimal health?

From better heart health to stronger joints, cardiovascular training has its perks. Not to mention that it burns massive calories! For example, a 155-pound person can torch 421 calories in just 30 minutes of rope jumping, reports Harvard Medical School. But too much of anything can do more harm than good. "Once you get past 10-12 hours of vigorous training, you're not doing your body any favors," cardiologist Aristotelis E. Vlahos said to Hackensack Meridian Health. He recommends about three to six hours of aerobic training per week — around 30 to 60 minutes per day.

Too much cardio can lead to injuries, chronic fatigue, dehydration, and an irregular heartbeat, warns Dr. Vlahos. Plus, you may end up losing muscle. This habit can also affect your mood, as well as your joints and immune system, points out celebrity trainer Obi Obadik (via Excessive exercise increases cortisol levels, which may suppress immune function.

All in all, there's no need to do cardio every time you work out. If, say, you plan to train your back or legs, it's perfectly fine to skip cardio. These workouts put a lot of stress on your muscles and joints. If you add cardio to the mix, you may end up overtraining. Listen to your body, and adjust your training regimen accordingly. Also, remember that you can always swap steady-state cardio for high-intensity interval training to get your desired results in less time.