There’s no greater struggle than finishing a long work or school day and then immediately having to muster up the energy to go to the gym. Similarly, anyone trying to get to an early morning HIIT class knows that your bed is always at its comfiest right when your alarm goes off. It’s hard AF to establish a consistent workout schedule, which is where cozy cardio comes into play. The TikTok fitness trend, which was recently made viral by Hope Zuckerbrow (@hope_zuckerbrow), puts an emphasis on comfort when it comes to weekly exercise.
Cozy cardio, according to Zuckerbrow, is a movement for people “to reclaim their relationships with exercise.” Instead of following a specific routine, cozy cardio is all about making yourself feel comfortable as you do some form of low-impact exercise. For Zuckerbrow, cozy cardio is lighting a candle, watching a TV show, and setting some mood lighting as she gets on her walking pad or does a 30-minute routine each morning. Fascinated by the trend, I wanted to see what my idea of cozy cardio would be for a week.
My relationship with exercise has dramatically changed in recent years. I got rid of my gym membership in 2020 because of the pandemic, and never went back when things started to open up again. I also work from home full-time now, which means there are days when I don’t really leave my apartment at all. I do have a stationary bike I like to get on and will pull up an at-home yoga routine when I can, but it’s been really hard to get back into a consistent schedule. Hoping that cozy cardio could help get me on the right path, I decided to try the viral trend for a week and reached out to some fitness experts at Alo Moves, Physique 57, and Sweaty Studio to get their thoughts on it.
Meghan McFerran, a professional dancer, nutrition coach, and fitness trainer at Alo Moves, says the name alone “makes fitness so much more approachable.” In addition to working up a sweat, cozy cardio benefits can include reducing “anxiety and stress in your body” and helps you move “from a place of joy.” While the trend is about finding a way to enjoy your workout, Tanya Becker, fitness expert and co-founder of the Physique 57 Method, tells Elite Daily that any movement you can do is good if you’re just starting out.
“Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous, structured, or take a long time to have benefits,” Becker says. Basically, “any exercise is better than none.” So, whether you’re a regular at your gym and just looking for ways to make your workouts more fun or someone like me who lives a pretty sedentary and just wants to start moving again, cozy cardio could be your choice of exercise. Plus, with fall finally here, being comfortable is in season thanks to oversized crewnecks, pumpkin-scented candles, and chilly weather outside. There’s no better time to get into a cozy cardio routine.
My Go-To Cozy Cardio Routine Was Easy
Going for a walk seemed like a great cozy cardio start for me, but unlike Zuckerbrow, I don’t have a walking pad at home. Instead, I chose to go on 30-minute to hour-long walks around my neighborhood with a friend. Getting to catch up while hiking and discovering new picturesque spots made my walks more enjoyable. Whenever my friend was busy, I would listen to a playlist of some of my favorite songs or Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS.
On days where I wasn’t able to get to my cozy cardio until after the sun went down, I decided to hop on my stationary bike for about 30 minutes, but with all the cozy essentials. Becker says that a great way to create a cozy environment while you work out is to “start by thinking about your five senses and make a list of all the things you enjoy.” With this in mind, I lit a fall candle for the scent, put on one of my favorite sweatshirts with the most comfortable biker shorts from Uniqlo, got myself some water in my go-to cup, and put on an episode of my current fall nostalgia rewatch, Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
“Creating and personalizing your cozy cardio space is key to seeing results and consistency,” Becker says, and it definitely made me more excited to work out than just hopping on the bike per usual. Watching an episode of Gilmore Girls was also recommended by McFerran, who says a “calming show” is the way to go to avoid “spik[ing] your stress levels.” Since autumn is a time to revisit Stars Hollow, you may want to go for a walk on the treadmill as you hang with Lorelai and Rory for an entire Gilmore Girls episode.
Doing Cozy Cardio For A Week Helped With My Overall Energy
Forcing myself to try cozy cardio for a week quickly turned into me looking forward to it each day. I’ve always been under the impression that working out means pushing yourself, but McFerran says, “As long as you are challenging yourself through your movement, celebrating your body, smiling, and feeling joyful energy as you sweat, then any form of cardio is beneficial, even if it isn’t high intensity cardio.”
Just by moving for 30 minutes each day, I found myself having more energy to do other things that I had been putting off, like unpacking after a recent trip and doing light chores around my apartment. Of course, founder of Sweaty Studio and certified Pilates and barre instructor, Callie Jardine, tells Elite Daily, “Cozy cardio is one piece of the puzzle to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.” If you’re looking for something more than just staying active, supplementing your cozy cardio routine by “adding vigorous cardio here and there” can help strengthen your heart and stamina.
I Asked Fitness Expert For Their Cozy Cardio Recommendations
While I’ll most likely stick with walking around my neighborhood for now — especially with the weather in LA being as nice as it is — I asked McFerran, Becker, and Jardine for a go-to cozy cardio routine.
“If you have a walking pad or treadmill, this is a great place to start,” McFerran says. Adding an incline and keeping a consistent pace can help to work out your legs, glutes, and core. The Alo Moves instructor also suggests 30 minutes of dancing or yoga for a full body workout or a 20-minute sculpt class that requires zero equipment every other day. “These low-impact cardio exercises like walking and dancing are easy on your joints and reduces the risk of injury, so you can keep cozy cardio-ing on the daily,” she says.
Deciding on a cardio exercise based on what area of the body you want to work on could be a great starting point, or you could just go after a goal. My goal was to focus on just moving each day after working from my couch for several hours, but Physique 57’s Becker says goals like weight management and strengthening your muscles are other things you can strive for. However, apparently getting too comfy is a thing, as people need to “challenge themselves” to increase the health benefits of working out.
To combat potential stagnation, Becker recommends starting out with a cozy cardio routine two to three times a week with an increase to “time, intensity, and schedule as you gain more endurance and stamina.” Becker even says that doing house chores like “washing windows, gardening, mopping, doing dishes, and vacuuming” is a great place to start. As long as you’re having fun by watching your fave movie or listening to your weekly podcasts, you might not even notice you’re doing those chores you’ve been avoiding.
While I kicked off my cozy cardio journey by doing 30 minutes of light exercises every day of the week, Jardine says that true beginners only need to commit to “two to three times per week for at least 15 minutes.” When you start small, you’re more like to “stick with it.” She also recommends “alternating days and planning your workout for the time of day that you feel the most energized.”
Finding a 15-minute Pilates exercise you can do in your apartment or dorm room in the middle of the day when you’re the most active is a great way to incorporate cozy cardio into your routine while also improving strength, flexibility, and balance. You can also decide on the form of cardio based on what you want to work on. For me, I think I’ll stick to walks, because Jardine says that daily hikes can help with “cardiovascular health, weight maintenance, muscular endurance, and stress reduction” — which are all things I care about.
Overall, when it comes to cozy cardio, I think Becker summed it up perfectly: “Bottom line, any movement is healthy movement.”
Expert Sources Cited:
Tanya Becker, fitness expert and co-founder of Physique 57 Method
Callie Jardine, certified Pilates and barre instructor, holistic health coach, and founder of Sweaty Studio
Meghan McFerran, professional dancer, Alo Moves fitness trainer, and nutrition coach