It's something all your doctors tell you is necessary, but it's the one thing for which you can always find a reason to avoid. The dreaded C word. Cardio. How do you avoid the aerobic rut you seem to get in every time you start a fitness regimen? Follow these tips and you'll soon be looking forward to working out.
Join a Class
Can't spend one more second watching fake scenery stretch out in front of you on the treadmill screen? Shut it down and join a workout class. With everything from Body Pump, which works every muscle group in one hour, to Zumba, which will leave you sweating and feeling like a back-up dancer for J-Lo, there is something for everyone.
Grab a Friend
Everything is more fun when you have someone to talk to. Grab a friend for motivation, conversation, and maybe a little competition. With someone to take your mind off the burn, an hour of cardio will fly by before you even notice. A professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University says exercising with a friend is “a genius way to decompress and multitask.”
Mix it Up
If you're stuck in the gym, change up your machine every 20 minutes. Start with a walk on the treadmill, then hop onto the rowing machine. Finish up with spin bikes, and in an hour you will have worked many of your major muscle groups. By mixing up your pace and type of cardio, you keep your body guessing which is great for burning more calories.
Think Outside the Gym
Any time you can leave virtual reality for REAL reality, you're doing yourself a favor. You expend more energy running outside than you do on a treadmill, as you don't have the moving belt helping you along. You're also making starts and stops and battling the elements, like wind, all of which drive the caloric burn way up! Change it up a little with some hill sprints, or running stairs in a parking garage.
Make Technology Work for You
Put technology to use in your fitness regimen. Think you'd survive a zombie apocalypse? Now's your chance to test that theory and download Zombies, Run! from Google play or the App Store. Follow audio clues (read: zombies grunting in your earbuds as they gain on you) to escape the undead and reach the safe zone. If you really don't want to run, try some Wii games like Punch-Out!! or Wii Sports. You'll have so much fun, you won't realize you're working out.
Sometimes Less is More
Many times, when people think of cardio, they think of spending an hour doing a continuous activity, and is a major time commitment. However, with the rise of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercises, even the busiest person can carve out some time to feel the burn. With this type of activity, a full training session can be done anywhere from 4 to 15 minutes a day. Using intense moves with short bursts, HIIT has been shown to effectively burn calories and transform your body without eating up your entire day.
Take Up a New Sport
Nothing gets the blood pumping like a friendly game and stiff competition. Join a rec league, call a friend, or set off on the golf course alone. Running up and down a basketball court in a game of 3-on-3, playing a tennis match, even golfing 18 holes (without using a golf cart) can mix business and pleasure in your quest to lose weight and get healthy.
Download Some Books on Tape
Connie Franklin is a fitness model who competes in triathlons, which means she has to run. A lot! In order to keep from getting bored on her regular nine mile runs, she listens to books on tape. She says it keeps her interested and takes her mind off the running. As a busy, working mom of 2, she kills two birds with one stone as her fitness and leisure time overlap.
Replace Running with Resistance Training
If you have to choose between weight lifting and cardio due to a time crunch, choose resistance training every time. Research shows that lifting weights in a circuit training pattern with little rest between exercises, can induce aerobic activity while boosting your metabolism. After a weight workout, your body will continue to burn calories as it works to repair the muscles you worked. You can work out for less time and reap more benefits if you focus on weights.
Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!
How would you feel about cardio if I told you sex is an absolutely viable option to get your heart pumping? Sex can burn up to 100 calories, and let's face it…you don't realize you're getting a work out. It also helps boost your immune system and is a great stress reliever. It's definitely a one stop shop for continued health.
Whether you're rolling in the sheets or running from zombies, any of these tips can keep you from getting stuck in your routine. Get outside, enlist a friend, or join a sport and you'll soon realize working out means having fun while meeting your fitness goals. So say good-bye to excuses, and usher in a new, healthy you.