I’m a self-described endorphin addict. I love nothing more than a really challenging, vomit-inducing workout. But running… Running was a different story.
While I’ve actually grown to really enjoy jogging along at my own pace (after many years and many miles), there was a time in my life when I would rather drink dish soap than run a mile. It hurt my legs, always gave me a side ache, and basically just made me feel like a dork.
If you’re nodding your head in solidarity, or if the last time you tried to run was when you sprinted for seven seconds to catch your train, don’t eschew cardio just yet. Regular cardio–about three times a week for around 25 minutes at a time–is necessary for a strong and functional heart. And you want that ticker to keep working.
It’s possible to actually enjoy yourself and get a great cardio workout in–it’s just a matter of finding what works for you.
Spinning has been around for decades, but thanks to indoor cycling titans like Soulcycle and Peloton, this boutique-fitness class trend has reached a new pinnacle. Awesome for those who have joint issues–when done correctly, there’s very little pressure on knees and ankles–spinning is a great form of cardio. Plus, if you’re one of those who prefer to get their sweat on anonymously, the dark and moody rooms that usually house spinning classes are perfect for rocking out without embarrassing yourself.
Sure, hiking is basically just walking, except with more dirt. But those inclines and the rocky terrain require the body to recruit more muscle groups to stay balanced and upright. Because the work is a little bit harder, it's challenging for the heart (in a good way).
Too busy to work out? Not a valid excuse anymore. HIIT or Tabata training involves super short workouts (think four to eight minutes long) that mix very hard work with short breaks. Don’t underestimate this little workout–a sweat session that consists of 20 seconds of sprinting with a 10 second rest repeated for four minutes has as shown to be as effective as a 45 minute moderate cardio workout.
Channel your inner Rhonda Rousey with a boxing workout. A notoriously punishing workout, boxing challenges coordination, upper body strength, and agility. Plus, all those upper cuts will tone your core like you wouldn’t believe, so you can skip the ab workout after.
Trick yourself into thinking you're out on a Friday night by taking a dance cardio class. It’s pretty hard to have a bad time when dancing, and these classes are geared to make even the most uncoordinated feel like they have moves like early aughts Janet Jackson. Your heart will be pumping–it’s a nonstop aerobic workout–and your endorphins will be through the roof.
Let’s be honest: you saw the video of that army of women bouncing on mini trampolines, laughed out loud, but secretly thought, “Looks kinda fun…” That’s because it is. Urban rebounding, or trampolining for us plebeians, is easy on the joints while still challenging for the heart. It’s more leg and glute heavy than running, so moving your workouts to the trampoline means you can say goodbye to squats. Plus, it’s great for detoxification, making it a good post-weekend workout.
If it’s good enough for Frank Underwood, it’s gotta be a pretty decent workout. Requiring 83 percent of the body’s total muscle mass, rowing is a full body workout because you use your legs and your upper body to increase speed and power on the rower. The faster you row, the higher your heart rate, so you can control the difficulty of your sweat sesh.
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