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For most students, it’s pretty normal to be exhausted by the afternoon (or pretty much any time of day). Cramming to get homework done can take its toll, and you hardly feel like hitting the gym for a hardcore workout session on your break between classes. So how do you still squeeze in fitness? That’s where LISS comes in.

What is LISS?

Low-intensity steady state cardio, or LISS, is about low-impact, low-exertion, and continuous movement. An old-school way of working out that’s trending once again, it’s all about maintaining 60 percent of your maximum heart rate effort, which puts you in the zone where your body starts to use fat as a fuel source.

You might sweat a bit, but it’s a lot more chill than, say, a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout or a weight-lifting session. LISS is great for beginners, athletes who want to be active on a rest day, and anyone who’s feeling low energy but still wants to move.

LISS is best performed as a leisurely activity; the longer you dedicate to it, the more benefits you’ll reap (ideally, you’ll want to do it for 30–70 minutes). Think a hilly walk, a long bike ride, mellow lap swimming, or a martial arts or dance class. Options for when you’re in the gym include walking on the treadmill at an incline, using the elliptical machine, or riding the exercise bike.

Benefits of LISS

  • Relatively easy and accessible to anyone
  • Perfect for exercising with friends (you can still hold a conversation while you do it)
  • Helps reduce stress and anxiety
  • Increases energy and stamina
  • Improves lung, heart, and bone health
  • Won’t leave you exhausted
  • Low risk of injury
  • Great for active rest days

To achieve LISS, most young adults would want to keep their heart rate between 120 and 150 beats per minute during the workout. You can track heart rate on most treadmills, exercise bikes, or stair climbers, or use a wearable fitness tracker.

Check out this target heart rate chart to see what range yours should be for your age.

If you aren’t tracking your heart rate, then you’ll want to maintain a pace where you might break a sweat but you could still hold a conversation with a friend (i.e., you’re not breathing too heavily or starting to feel weak). It’s important to try to hit that target heart rate goal so you can ensure you’re getting enough of a challenge while still avoiding burnout and risk of injury.