What Is LISS Cardio? A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

LISS stands for 'Low-Intensity Steady State' which aims for a low level of exertion for a long period of time. LISS cardio exercise is also called steady-state training (SST) which is good for people of all ages and fitness levels. These exercises involve slower aerobic activity and are beneficial for cross-training and endurance.

The types of LISS training include activities like walking, cycling or jogging at a comfortable pace. They are low-intensity cardio activities which concentrate on overall body conditioning rather than focusing on power and speed.

LISS is a steady approach to burning calories and improving cardiovascular health according to the American Heart Association. The AHA recommends getting 30-60 minutes of aerobic activities, three to four times a week for cardiovascular fitness and to minimize the risk of obesity.

Types of LISS Cardio

There are many types of LISS cardio exercises that you can incorporate into your fitness routine. As there are many options to choose from, you won't get bored repeating the same type of LISS cardio. Some of the types include −

  • Walking at your pace

  • Hiking

  • Cycling at home or outdoors

  • Swimming

  • Rowing

  • Skateboarding

  • Surfing

If you wish to do LISS cardio at the gymnasium, you can use cardio equipment like an elliptical trainer at a moderate pace for about 30 to 45 minutes.

LISS versus HIIT

One of the major differences between LISS and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the intensity of the workouts. The higher your heart rate, the higher the intensity of the physical activity you are doing. This could be problematic for people with low fitness levels. If you are a beginner, you can spend 20 to 30 minutes on a LISS workout and as you build endurance; your sessions may last up to 60 minutes per day.

HIIT workouts are designed specially to raise your heart rate for burning calories and concentrate on limit-pushing bursts and slowed-down recovery periods.

Some of the major differences between LISS and HIIT include −

  • Time − LISS workouts are significantly longer as compared to HIIT exercises. HIIT workout usually takes 30 minutes and both workouts may offer the same benefits in terms of calories burned.

  • Speed − Normally, LISS training is done at the same pace while HIIT alternates periods of intense exercise and includes relatively short recovery time.

  • Attention and focus − In HIIT workouts, you have to pay more attention to the exercises as you are constantly switching up movements. However, in the LISS cardio workouts, you may require less concentration as you are doing the same activity for a long time.

Benefits of LISS Cardio

The primary benefits of LISS cardio include improvisation of cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, the benefits don't end here. Let us understand the benefits of this LISS cardio for overall fitness.

  • Aids in recovery − LISS cardio makes your heart pump blood throughout the body and hence, the muscles may get nutrients to heal the micro-damage incurred from the workout sessions. Enhanced recovery and less soreness can motivate you to look forward to your training session.

  • Fat and calories burning − The body needs oxygen to metabolise fat. The lower the intensity of your activity, the more oxygen is available to be used to break down fat. LISS cardio may also help you achieve a caloric deficit which makes weight loss and fat loss manageable.

  • Good option if you are tired − You can achieve your fitness goals while avoiding strenuous workouts with the help of LISS cardio exercises. Also, the majority of the LISS exercises can be done outdoors which allows you to get fresh air. LISS cardio can have a mood-boosting effect on you and while increasing your endurance may also act as a stress buster.

  • Good for the nervous system − LISS cardio could benefit the vast majority of people. Sports science has realised that over-stressing the body may not be useful and can lead to sickness and injury. LISS may be advantageous for people having stressful lives as the long-duration session can be more calming for the parasympathetic nervous system.

Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, LISS cardio may also help lower the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and obesity. These workouts may improve cognitive function, mental health, endurance, muscle strength and sleep cycle.

Who Should Do LISS Cardio?

If you are new to exercise or are getting back into it, beginning with LISS may help you increase your fitness levels without risking over-exertion. Additionally, if your goal is to improve aerobic fitness, LISS cardio can be a great option.

If you have a sedentary lifestyle, are obese or have knee or back issues, you can opt for LISS cardio as it put less stress on the joints as compared to HIIT and other high-impact workouts.

Usually, HIIT sessions are preferred by people who have less time and need to get fit in a short time. However, HIIT may cause more pressure on the body and mind. Also, if you love doing intense workouts, you still need LISS cardio in your well-balanced workout for cardiovascular training and recovery.

Getting Started with LISS Cardio

The best way to design a LISS workout is to think about your hobbies and activities that can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle and schedule. Many forms of LISS cardio may include low to moderate-intensity physical workouts such as −

  • Doing any one of the activities from walking, dancing, aerobics or water aerobics for 30 minutes

  • Swimming for 20 minutes

  • Walk up and down the stairs for 15 minutes

  • Cycling for 15 minutes

  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes

  • Shooting a basket for 30 minutes

You can try these LISS workouts −

  • Two to four mile walks aiming for a pace between 15 to 18 minutes per mile as per your fitness levels

  • Hop on a treadmill, cross trainer or exercise bike for 30-60 minutes at a moderate pace

  • Go for a Vinyasa or flow yoga class

  • You can begin with walking for 30 to 60 minutes and once you get used to it, try rucking (walking with a weighted backpack). You can also use intervals in between by slowing down for two minutes after 10 rounds and then beginning the walk again.

Word of Caution

LISS cardio may feel repetitive and boring, especially in a gym. You can do LISS with your friend to combat boredom as you can hold a conversation in the low-intensity physical activity. However, don't shift your focus to talking and forget about the workout. Another shortcoming of LISS cardio is that it may cause overuse injuries.

If you experience chronic fatigue, brain fog or prolonged muscle soreness, this could be a sign of overtraining. In any form of workout, may it be high or low intensity, you must give your body adequate time to rest and recover.


If your goal is to improve your fitness, and you have time for longer workouts, LISS cardio may be a good option for you. LISS workouts are the opposite of HIIT workouts and are generally easier for beginners to maintain a healthy weight. To get the most weight loss benefit with LISS, you can add in some strength training and incorporate a nutrition strategy.