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8 Ways to Have Fun With Cardio

Updated on April 6, 2015
Image: Andy Newson /
Image: Andy Newson /

1. Find music that makes you MOVE

Forget the generic workout tunes...if they haven't worked yet, they won't work ever. Find music you really like that gets your heart going. Anything! It doesn't even have to sound like workout music, whatever that is. If it gets you pumped and wanting to dance, you can channel that energy into cardio fuel and use it to get your feet moving. In the past I have even used soundtracks from action movies. It could be country, EDM, swing, or death metal. It could be light and upbeat or heavy and intense, pounding bass or swinging jazz... anything that works for you. Just find the music you really love, and get moving.

2. Find a buddy

Cardio with someone else around is usually more effective. Most people are a little bit competitive, or at least self conscious, so you might find your lungs lasting longer and you pushing yourself harder so you don't look like a slacker. You can even place bets or compete to see who can run/bike/elliptical longer. There are also many apps out there that make running into a social thing without having to deal with the logistics of finding a time and place to meet in person.

3. Add variety

If you don't like running, just walk. Walk up a hill or in rough terrain to get an extra boost from it. If you don't like walking, get a bike. If you don't like biking, get a boat and try your hand at rowing (or use the rowing machine at the gym... it's not as hard as it looks.) If you don't want to go outside, use cardio workout videos or one of the many apps like Nike Training Club. The internet and app stores are packed with free workouts you can follow. Dance around your room if that'll get you moving. It's good for your body to add variety to your workouts, since different muscle groups are involved in different activities, and your body will naturally become more efficient and less challenged (and thus benefit less) if you do the same activity all the time.

4. Join a class

People will not stare at you, they will not point and laugh, and more likely than not you will be in better shape than half of the class anyway. Group exercise classes are actually a lot of fun, especially if you can get a friend or family member to come with you. You might find that you're forced by peer pressure to work out a lot harder than you expected or thought you could. This doesn't work for everyone, but for some people it's the key to a consistent cardio habit.

Image: Tom Curtis /
Image: Tom Curtis /

5. Explore

Try walking, cycling, or jogging somewhere you've never been before. Is there a nature park nearby? Does your city have a nice waterfront or downtown area? Chances are you haven't actually seen much of your own neighbourhood, beyond the immediate surroundings. Take a walk a little farther or in a different direction than you normally would and just explore for the sake of exploring. Learning about new shops or checking out the houses in an area you haven't seen might keep your mind occupied as your heart and lungs do their work.

6. Find motivators

Cardio is awesome! It will free up endorphins and make you feel good, but if that's not enough, give yourself some other incentives to keep going. Plan a prize of some kind after you finish your workout, like a relaxing bubble bath or or a small treat (don't stress over calories, just enjoy life). If you can't think of any physical rewards that would do the trick, try one of the running apps that make it into a game, like Zombies, Run! Nothing motivates like a horde of zombies chasing you.

7. Entertainment

Listening to news, comedy or an audiobook can keep you entertained if you go for long cardio workouts like walks or bike rides, at a slower pace. Listening to someone talk won't keep your enthusiasm up for heavier cardio, but if you prefer to take it slow and go for a long time, it will definitely keep you from getting bored.

If you do like heavier cardio, but you're tired of your own music library, try finding some music podcasts that work for your music taste. Many are over an hour long, so you don't have to worry about switching songs or spending time putting together a playlist yourself.

8. Little steps

If all else fails, and it turns out that doing cardio workouts just isn't your thing, try to sneak it into your day like your parents used to sneak broccoli into your dinner. Take the stairs every time. Park your car at the far end of the lot. If you work in a job where you sit all day, take stretching and walking breaks as often as possible. Use a grocery basket instead of a cart (obviously within reason). Walk everywhere you can. Double your walks with the dog, or walk with your neighbour if they have a dog and you don't. Small amounts of cardio more often is better than one long session once per day, so if you can squeeze in every little bit that you can, you will already feel better without having to endure an actual workout.

Just do something

Once you start to enjoy the feel-good effects of keeping your body active the workouts will become much more enjoyable, and it will be easier to make a habit of it. All you need to do is figure out what it is that will make you want to get moving.


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