Finding a workout you absolutely love is like hitting the jackpot. More specifically, finding a cardio workout that doesn't make you low-key want to die can seem virtually impossible. No matter which way you slice it, cardio is just not one of those workouts that easily makes you feel inspired or motivated. Having said that, new research might help you figure out how to stick to a cardio routine, and maybe, just maybe, actually enjoy it.
Before we get into the research, though, let's talk about why cardio can be so difficult to stick to sometimes. From my experience, cardio is either boring as all hell, or it's way, way too hard. Another monotonous treadmill run to the tune of whatever cable news network is on at the gym? No, thank you. A HIIT circuit that's so intense, it makes you feel like you're about to pass out? Uh, I think I'm good.
The bottom line is, if you pick a cardio routine that makes you absolutely dread lacing up your sneakers and getting into the moves, it doesn't matter how healthy it is for your heart — you're probably not going to stick to it.
However, according to recent research, one of the best ways to add some consistent cardio into your life is by walking with a group of people, rather than pounding the pavement solo.
The Houston Chronicle reports that, according to a recently published review of 18 different studies, gathering up a group of friends to go on daily walks may help you stick to cardio exercise more consistently in the long run. The research, which was originally published in the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care, included information from several different studies that tracked adults who walked alone, with groups, or not at all. After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that those who walk in groups are most likely to continue their cardio sessions long-term. According to the Houston Chronicle, this is because of the "commitment, community and continuity" that group exercise builds.
When you think about it, this totally makes sense. How many times have you told yourself that you'd throw on your Nikes and go for a jog, but 15 minutes later, you found yourself swaddled up in a glorious blanket burrito, rewatching every episode of This Is Us (again)? TBH, it happens to the best of us from time to time. But if you have a designated group of friends who are waiting for you to join them for your daily stroll, you'll probably be a bit more inclined to unravel from your cozy comforter and crank out your cardio routine, don't you think?
Plus, according to Mayo Clinic, gathering a group of friends and going for daily walks together is a great way to stay motivated, to socialize, and, again, it keeps everyone in the group accountable for sticking to the routine, which is especially key when it comes to making cardio a habit you won't quit.
And if those texts from your BFFs or co-workers urging you to get off your butt and join them for a stroll still don't motivate you, the mental health benefits of group walking will be sure to rock your world (and your brain).
For instance, a 2015 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that walking groups can boost your overall mood and mental well-being, and may even help fight off mild feelings of depression, among a whole host of other health benefits.
What's more, people who are actually part of these walking groups can't say enough about how much they love the activity. Margie Buchner, a woman in Illinois who started a walking group with her co-workers, told the Chicago Tribune,
The quality of our lives is improved, and we have more energy to enjoy life.
Her co-worker, Aurea Martinez, added,
Walking in a group ... gives off positive energy and helps you feel good all over.
So, what are you waiting for? Break things off with your treadmill once and for all, and go hit up a scenic trail with your besties. I promise, it's the fun kind of cardio — and no, that's not an oxymoron.