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What is Zone 2 Cardio and Why Should I Be Doing It?


Zone 2 cardio refers to a specific heart rate training zone that is commonly used in endurance training. This zone is a low intensity training zone associated with aerobic exercise, where the intensity is sustainable for extended periods. The concept of heart rate zones is based on the percentage of your maximum heart rate, and Zone 2 typically corresponds to a range between 60% and 70% of your maximum heart rate.


Here are the general recommendations for Zone 2 cardio:


1.     Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): To find your Zone 2 target range, you first need to estimate your maximum heart rate. A common method is to subtract your age from 220. However, this is a rough estimate and variations exist.

2.     Calculate Your Zone 2 Range: Once you have your estimated MHR, calculate the Zone 2 range by taking 60-70% of that value.

3.     Monitor Heart Rate: To stay within Zone 2, use a heart rate monitor during your workouts. This will help you ensure that you're maintaining the desired intensity.

4.     Duration: Zone 2 cardio is often performed for longer durations. The recommendation is 150-200+ minutes of zone 2 cardio per week. Learn more by listening to Dr. Andrew Huberman here.

 

If you don’t have a way to monitor your heart rate, or don’t have a desire to, then no worries. You should be able to hold a light conversation or be able to keep your mouth closed and focus on nasal breathing throughout the exercise.



A woman hiking in the woods of Western North Carolina with her arm around her young son and 3 children walking and playing out in front of them


Now, why is Zone 2 cardio important?


1.     Aerobic Base Building: Zone 2 training helps build and strengthen your aerobic base. This means improving your body's ability to efficiently use oxygen to produce energy during sustained exercise.

2.     Fat Utilization: Training in Zone 2 encourages the use of fat as a primary energy source. This is beneficial for endurance athletes, as it helps preserve glycogen stores and enhances overall endurance.

3.     Reduced Risk of Overtraining: Zone 2 training is less intense compared to higher-intensity workouts. This can reduce the risk of overtraining and decrease the likelihood of injuries associated with high-impact activities.

4.     Improved Recovery: The lower intensity of Zone 2 cardio allows for quicker recovery, making it suitable for more frequent training sessions.

5.     Long-Term Performance Gains: Building a strong aerobic base through Zone 2 training provides a foundation for improved performance in higher-intensity workouts and competitions.


Now, let's get started! Remember not to overthink the type or modality of the exercise. It can be going out for a hike with your dog, taking a walk with your partner or kids, going for a jog, or using a bike or elliptical. Make it something you like to do! Bonus points if you get some fresh air and sunlight while doing it :)


As always, don't hesitate to reach out with any questions.


Let's talk soon,

Dr. Sieara Hinshaw

Physical Therapist, Cert. Strength and Conditioning Specialist

828-808-3704

 

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