Why You Need The LISS Workout

5 min read

LISS. It’s our website founder’s nickname (hi Elissa!) It’s also the acronym for a kind of workout which most of us are familiar with. We call it walking. And yes, there’s a hint of irony in that. But stick with me, because Low Intensity Steady State cardio has won me over. Actually, it had me even before I knew what it was.

Around three years ago I before I was familiar with the term, I saw a friend in the fitness industry use the tag #liss on a post of her walk around the Swan River in Perth. #fitspo #Monday #activelife #fitgirls…you get the drift. But #liss? What? I was intrigued, so I clicked on it and up popped a world of (mostly women) out there with prams, in the bush, on their bikes, in their bathers, doing ‘liss’.

So what is LISS – Low Intensity Steady State Cardio?

Elevating your heart rate with activity but not getting it above 50 to 60 per cent of your maximum, and sticking with that pace for 30 minutes or more. That’s it: think walking, hiking, biking, maybe swimming, at a pace where you could still talk, but not really easily. Think of it not smashing calories or fat, but instead a slow burn that’s kinder to your body and might give your spirit the break it needs from Barry’s (bootcamp).

And why is LISS so good for us?

Read on…

LISS is accessible

All you need is a pair of runners, and 30 minutes to get out and around your block. No fancy equipment, no memberships, no fuss required. It’s way less scary or intimidating than hitting the gym. I’m be the first to admit I’ve changed my activewear outfit more than once before heading to a sessions on the free weights floor, but if I’m going for a walk, I’ll just chuck on a t-shirt and shorts.

Think of it not smashing calories or fat, but instead a slow burn that’s kinder to your body and might give your spirit the break it needs…

LISS is cheap

See above. There are no upfront payments no commitment required except to yourself and improving your health.

LISS is relaxing

Sometimes the psychological burden of prepping for a big session in the gym is just too much. LISS can be meditative, I’ve found. While as a sort of ‘in rehab’ type A personality who would beat myself up if I didn’t ‘work out properly’ nearly every day, or at least stick to the schedule I’d self-prescribed for the week ahead, I find a slow jog or fast walk as good or even better than meditation (which I still can’t get to stick), or trying to analyse my issues over a coffee or glass of wine. There’s something about the movement that helps me to think through and then let go.

You can do LISS outside

By now we’ve probably heard of ‘forest bathing’ which seems a ridiculous term to me, but the World Economic Forum has endorsed it so who am I to argue? Anyway, it’s pretty clear that getting outside more is good for us and if that means by the beach, in the forest, in a park – wherever we’ve got access to leaves, dirt, trees or salty water and sand. (Sidenote: one of the reasons I loved Hong Kong so much was because within a matter of less than an hour of being in the city, you could be up on a fabulous trail). Again, pram or no pram, or tanned to the level of Donatella Versace and carrying handweights, like I’ve seen here in Italy, it doesn’t take a lot to get outside and get your heart rate up. You can of course do it at the gym too, on the treadmill or cross-trainer or elliptical machine, if that’s your jam.

What is LISS workout?LISS is good on days when you cbf and need an ‘out’ from your high intensity workout

We all have days where we think ‘really, I just don’t want to’ (do that workout I planned on Sunday when I was full of enthusiasm and goals for the week ahead). Maybe you didn’t sleep well, are getting your period, have had a horrific day at work, and that 6pm spin class or booty burn that you’ve booked into just seems too much.

While high intensity is all the rage, it’s true that it can stress your body out.

Truth is, sometimes it’s best to listen to that voice. And now you have the perfect excuse. Not to watching The Bachelor and drinking wine, but to go for a walk instead.

While high intensity is all the rage (still…), partly I think because you burn more in a short space of time, it’s true that it can stress your body out. Think too much cortisol being released into your body, and muscles that don’t have a chance to repair or recover in between sessions.

So ditch the spin and go for a walk and talk with your bestie instead. Your body and your brain will thank you.

Moderation is the new black. Ok maybe not yet, but I’m trying to get it up there  

I remember when I was in my early 20s and at uni, and had gone back home to live with mum and dad after a period of living overseas. Mum left a story on the kitchen bench that she’d pulled from Harpers Bazaar (I think), about how walking was actually better for you than running. I dismissed it offhand, saying something along the lines of ‘well it depends what kind of results you’re after’. Shorthand for ‘walking isn’t trying hard enough, and I’m better than that.’ Sorry mum – you might have been right, in the sense that walking and low intensity work definitely forms part of a healthy workout routine. You can also kill two birds walking: some of my best and most intense chats with friends have been walking along Cottesloe Beach in Perth.

Maybe what I like most about it is the message of moderation. At the last yoga retreat I taught at, a participant lamented the lack of ‘normal’ role models on Instagram. Her daughter, around 18 years old, had said she had wished there were just ordinary people she could follow who were like her: not promoting messages of perfection, extremity or obsessiveness. Firstly, a big up for her, because at 18 I would have been more likely to pursue that perfection and extremity with an unhealthy dose of obsessiveness. But it lead us into a deeper conversation around the nature of moderation: short story? It’s not that sexy, but it might be the best way to live our greatest and longest lives.

As with any exercise program, it’s important to check with your doctor before you make big changes or start something new.

You might also like Why You Need To Take A Break From The Gym.

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