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I've often heard it recommended to allow for an "off day" between strength training a specific muscle group to give it time to recover, and thus grow stronger. However, I haven't heard the same for aerobic exercise.

Cardio strengthens the heart, which is a muscle, so shouldn't the same recommended rest period apply?

Or, is it safe and effective to perform intense cardio every day?

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The short Answer: It is safe to do cardio daily.

The use of "intense" really depends on your body. If you build up your routine by starting with 20 minutes of running daily and then the week after 30, 40, etc. eventually getting to an "intense" cardio workout, then it is fine.

Throwing yourself into an intense routine every day without the build up may cause certain muscles or joints to have a hard time keeping up.

Example: I play basketball in the summertime as my form of cardio to lean up. I start with 1-3 days a week, for 1-2 hours. At first, my knees will be a bit sore after playing, and by week 3-4 I am at 5+ days a week, minimum 2 hours a day without soreness.

With cardio (as with many things), the more you do it the better you get at it. It is all about pace (moving up at your body's rhythm) and just being attentive to what your body needs. If you feel you need a day off, take one, but it isn't necessary to do so for cardio. Just make sure your diet and rest reflect the work you are going to be doing (providing your body with the nutrition it needs to keep up).

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The simple answer is that it is safe. Whether it is effective depends upon your goals.

If you are starting from an untrained condition, then it pretty much doesn't matter what you do, and working out every day will work fine. Once you get somewhat trained, things change. If you are not well-recovered, you simply cannot work hard enough to stress your system, and without that hard work, you will not improve.

To put it another way, it's the off days where you get better and rest enough to work hard on your on days.

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Your heart is a muscle running 24*7 and putting it in the red zone day in day out may not be the best decision. The ideal approach will be to make the heart habitual of controlled stress (Most athletes follow this approach) and let it go back to its green easy zone aka rest period.

Doing cardio 4 times works for many as they get the motivation and the energy to hit the limit every third day and also get ample rest to not sweat all day out of fatique.

Hope it helps!!

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