How To Make Cardio More Fun With These 7 Really Simple Changes In Your Routine
Cardio workouts can be tedious and monotonous AF if you get stuck in a rut, or find yourself mindlessly hitting up the treadmill day in and day out. I don't know about you, but lengthy, draining cardio sessions bore me to freaking tears, and they tend to make all motivation go out the window real fast. I'm constantly looking for ways to make cardio more fun, and luckily, spicing things up isn't as hard as you might think. There are plenty of ways to turn cardi-no into cardi-OH HELL YEAH.
While a little bit of cardio each day — I'm talking only about a half hour or so of aerobic activity a day — is recommended by the American Heart Association for optimum heart health, people often think that this translates to hitting up the elliptical for an hour, or dragging yourself to the StairMaster to meet your cardiovascular needs.
However, these classic forms of cardio aren't actually necessary if you're not that into them. There are so many other forms of cardiovascular activity that are way more fun, and will still help you reach your #goals, especially when all the treadmills at the gym are taken.
At the end of the day, if you enjoy lengthy treadmill sessions, you do you, girlfriend. And if the thought of running makes you want to puke, there are other ways to include cardio in your routine without taking the fun out of the whole experience.
Whether you're running, cycling, walking, or "plogging" (more on that in a bit), here are seven ways to change up your cardio routine and keep things genuinely fun.
1. Create A Killer Cardio Pump-Up Playlist
You know when your favorite song comes on, and no matter where you are, you automatically get super pumped and start bouncing your leg or bopping your head to the rhythm?
According to the American Council on Exercise, this is because music causes "mental arousal" and naturally makes you feel like you're having fun (even if you're low-key not). A 1997 study done by researchers from Australia and the UK confirmed this theory, when bumpin' beats during a workout appeared to help participants perform better overall when it came to exercising.
Don't forget those headphones, fam.
2. Include Fun HIIT Circuits In Your Routine
It's pretty common to feel stressed AF after a long day, and as a result, squeezing in a cardio sesh is likely to be the furthest thing from your mind in those circumstances.
If treadmill runs or elliptical sessions aren't your jam, try out a fun and challenging HIIT circuit for the same sweat-inducing effects, but in a shorter, and more stress-busting style.
According to a 2003 study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia, high-intensity interval training can actually be highly effective for reducing stress. HIIT workouts help exhaust all of that negative energy, and at the same time, they push your limits to the absolute max — in a fun way, I promise!
3. Watch Your Favorite Show On The Treadmill
If you do enjoy your treadmill trips, but you're simply looking for a way to make them more enjoyable than they already are, try adding your go-to Netflix show or favorite movie to the equation.
This is the simplest way to make the time fly by, because after a 30-minute episode of, say, Friends (or you could challenge yourself to run for nearly a full hour with a longer show like Breaking Bad or Mad Men), you'll easily have gotten your recommended amount of cardio for the day and caught up on the latest episode of your fav series. #Winning, amirite?
4. Tune Into A Great Podcast During Your Daily Walk
If going for leisurely strolls out in nature is your jam, that's awesome! This form of cardio is highly meditative, and an incredible way to tune into that mind-body connection.
However, if you frequently find yourself getting bored during your walks, popping in your earbuds and tuning into a great podcast could be just what you need to mix things up. Try out any of these health podcasts that will literally answer every question you've ever had about your body, and make your afternoon strolls feel like a walk in the park. (Ha. Ha. Laugh with me.)
5. Try Being Swedish AF By Going "Plogging"
Ah, what I would give to live in Sweden. From the feel-good concept of hygge to the fitness trend of "plogging," it seems like people in Sweden always know just how to nourish their bodies and souls in the best way possible.
According to The Washington Post, plogging is a combination of basic jogging and the Swedish term “plocka upp,” which means "pick up." When you "plog," you'll essentially be jogging along, minding your own business, except every time you see a piece of trash, you'll pick it up and throw it in the nearest garbage.
What better way to work out than to keep both yourself and the environment healthy and happy?
6. Try A Fun New Cardio Class (That Doesn't Involve Running)
From hot yoga, to zumba, to kickboxing, to SoulCycle's brand new cardio class called SoulActivate, there are countless ways to change up your typical routine and find genuinely joyful movement in your workout.
Grab a friend and try a new class each month! Variety is the spice of life, amirite?
7. Kick It Old School And Whip Out Your Jumprope
If running, cycling, walking, and any other form of moving forward in a consistent direction is just not your thing, jump-roping is still an option too, my friend.
This bad boy isn't just reserved for middle school recess, and there are so many effective skipping workouts that will be a ton of fun to try out. Plus, you have the option of doing this cardio workout in the comfort of your own home, or you can take it outside for some fresh air and a cool breeze.