Cardio. It’s the infamous term that some people look forward to, and others roll their eyes at. You know what, I get it. It can be boring, tedious, uncomfortable, and time consuming (clearly I have my own opinions). However, the benefits you get from it are pretty spot on. Aside from the physiological benefits, you can gain discipline, mental strength, and a damn good sense of accomplishment. What exactly are the differences between the two, thouugh?

LISS stands for Low Intense Steady State. This is your long walks, jogs, elliptical, bicycle, etc.

HIIT stands for High Intense Interval Training. This can be the same exercises as LISS, but timing and intensity are different. While you keep relatively the same pace for LISS, HIIT condenses the time, but ups the ante for intensity. Rather than a 30 minute jog, you can cut it in half, increase the intensity to a sprint, and taper off . Lather, rinse, repeat.


Cardio of any sort improves heart health. It improves cardiac output, helps lower blood pressure, and can increase your High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), the good kind of fat.

Being that the body is a pretty dope machine, the type of cardio you do can actually influence the heart to change it’s physiology. In other words, it adapts to the needs of the body based on the stress you put on it.

LISS and the Heart

When done consistently, it can change the size of the ventricle in your heart. It reduces the thickness of the walls to allow a high volume of blood to be ejected from it. This is why your resting heart rate decreases.

HIIT and the Heart

While it can have similarities with LISS, the ventricle can actually thicken, which increases resting heart rate, but is needed to help eject blood at a more forceful rate.

Aside from the cardiovascular benefits, there are other benefits to it as well.

Increased Bone Density

Much like the heart (and everything else in the body), your bones will adapt to the increased steps. This is great for anyone, but especially ladies post menopause and geriatrics. Reason being, bones start to break down as we age, and with hormonal changes that happen during menopause.

Increased Muscle Hypertrophy (growth)

With HIIT, you’re utilizing a lot of the muscles required for power and strength (Fast Twitch fibers). These are the muscles that are also used with strength training. The beauty of this, you’ll also utilize the endurance based muscles (slow twitch) that are responsible for posture. Being able to slowly but consistently improve your HIIT will not only help with muscle shape and function, but help with heart health and metabolism. Which bring me to the third benefit.

Increased Metabolic Rate

Anytime you’re able to get your heart rate up and keep it there, you’ll be burning calories. Doing it in an organized means (exercise), and on a consistent basis (several times a week), your body will start utilizing its fuel sources in a more efficient way. The cool part, with a combo of each and increased muscle growth, you’ll be able to burn more calories at rest.

The cool part is, there are theories that your body will crave the food it wants due to the nutrients it needs (no that doesn’t mean to down Ben and Jerry’s and claim you’re listening to your body, although it’s damn good #HalfBaked). With LISS, within some parameters, your body will utilize fat stores for fuel. With HIIT, carbs are more of a fuel source, but fat is still being used. So if you’re craving a steak and potato after a several mile run, eat up.

Final Thoughts

We’ve all heard about it. Yes cardio is good for you, but doing it mindlessly is anything but fun. I don’t know about you, but having reason behind my intent helps me stay disciplined that much better. Go for an hour walk to clear your head before work, and put together a 30 minute HIIT workout after to blow off steam. Get the heart rate up, the sweat going, and get comfortable with your food. It’ll fuel you for the next couple hours and your next workout.