Cardio, an interesting and diverse side of exercise that does not always have to be the same boring routine over and over. Personally cardio is not my favorite part of exercise but when I do it there has to be some form of variety. Honestly I am sure most folks feel the same way about their routines, after many of the “same ole same ole” running on the treadmill, staring into space and wishing you were at home in bed watching Grey’s Anatomy. Eventually you get tired, irritated and discouraged to the point where you desire decreases and you are starting to move backwards in your goals and then back to square one. Now it may seem a little dramatic but trust “been there, done that” and as much as I would love to say that cardio is still my favorite, it is necessary but it doesn’t have to be boring.
The key to cardio is understanding what it takes for your body to perform cardiovascular activities otherwise you wont see the “big picture” and develop variations that can achieve the same result! So what we know is that there is such thing as too much and not enough, which of course is a case by case scenario, and since I don’t know you all personally I will speak in general. Cardio is an aerobic exercise, aerobic meaning (requiring air also known as oxygen), which requires oxygen to meet your energy requirements to perform the exercise. Science aside, there are several different ways to do your cardio without feeling like a “hamster on a wheel”:
Also referred at most fitness centers as “Spin Class” is great way to achieve the result at different levels based on your capability. Not to mention the challenging different programs and levels that increase resistance to really get that heart rate up. Also, trying spin class is a great way to really get interactive especially when there is an instructor who will take you through various programs that make it fun and time will seem fast. Also, you will meet other folks and get a chance to really see if you like it or not. Check out your local gym to see what’s available and give it a shot!
My personal favorite, is a way to not only work different parts of the body ( calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, lower back, etc) but also conditions your body just as much. It also has several programs that will engage a great pace, meter trials and much more. Rowing also includes a fan blade that can adjust resistance from levels 1 through 10 to make it more challenging for you. Sometimes I challenge my trainer to beat his time, (haven’t beat it yet) but either way its a fun way to do cardio while working the whole body!
This is underrated in my opinion, only because unless you are on a swim team , most do not consider this an option. It wasn’t until I learned how to swim that I developed a like for swimming laps. It is a true workout that even in a short period of time with short distance can work up a sweat (well you are already wet but you get the idea, you will be tired!). Even if you don’t swim well, a bit of practicing will exhaust you a bit, as it does require tightening of the abs, use of arms for the stroke and straight legs which is not the easiest thing in the world! Definitely consider incorporating 15-20 minutes of this in your program and you will definitely feel the burn!
How about enjoying some fresh air, Mother Nature surrounds us with beautiful hills and scenery, why not take advantage of your local track or hill, even a street at an incline will work just as good? This of course would be an area where traffic isn’t an issue or there is room on the sidewalk to move. Check out this article by Ashley Horner that will give excellent ways to improve your outdoor experience. This doesn’t have to be made from scratch but it does have to make you work up a sweat at least!
High Intensity Training
High Intensity Training also known as HIT is great for those who do not want to spend a lot of time on cardio but want to get a great workout that burns more calories. It is getting your body to a point of fatigue while burning calories in a shorter period of time. I recommend trying it to get several variations and be able to really get a great workout! Check the internet for several resources including bodybuilding.com
There are many other ways to get a cardiovascular benefit from exercise but these should get you started and going. Cardio can be boring sometimes but only if you allow it to be. I highly recommend trying many of these options and seeing what works best for you!