Six Simple Ways to Make Cardio Fun
HIIT is a great way to keep your workouts new and fun
HIIT (interval training) is a form of cardio in which the athlete performs short bursts of intense activity that significantly raises the heart level, then goes into a brief rest period (ex: 30 sec sprints, 45 sec walking). These intervals are repeated for approximately 10-20 minutes.
One of the beauties of this form of training is that you do not need a gym or equipment to do HIIT, and you can get creative with your workouts. You can do sprints up a trail, do intervals of swimming in a pool, do a bodyweight resistance circuit, or essentially any form of exercise that brings your heart rate up then lowers it repeatedly. The possible varieties of locations and forms of interval training is exciting and prevents boredom during cardio sessions. You have so many options to work with, how could interval training not be fun?
Not to mention, interval training has major health benefits (see my article, Why You Should Be Doing HIIT).
- Why You Should Be Doing HIIT
Forget being on an elliptical for two hours every day and not seeing any results. Start doing high intensity training as few as three times a week for up to twenty minutes and notice the changes.
Take your workout outside!
Running for long stretches of time on the treadmill can seem dreadful and endless. A great way to change the scenery and add some fun into the workout is to take it outside, or even just to a new location. If you love nature and being surrounded by the beautiful outdoors, you can try running a trail in your favorite location! If running's not your thing, you can try a bike ride on your favorite roads, or swimming in a pool or natural body of water. Sometimes in order to make cardio enjoyable, all you need is a change of scenery.
Have your friends join you for cardio!
Most things are more fun when your friends are around, right? Next time you go for a jog, invite one of your friends. This gives you someone to talk to and someone to push yourself with. When working out with a partner, you're more likely to get more done because you don't want to let the other person down. Of course, partner workouts aren't pure social hour and there should be plenty of exercise being done, but it is always nice to have someone to talk to and spend time with. Try working out with a friend; you'll probably notice a dramatic difference in your motivation levels!
Find ways to reward yourself after completing cardio.
While doing cardio is not an excuse to eat five pizzas and a cake, there are ways to reward yourself for doing cardio. The rewards don't have to be (and probably shouldn't be) food related. For example, if you successfully complete a vigorous cardiovascular workout, allow yourself to go out with your friends or take time to get a massage, etc. Make plans to reward yourself after accomplishing a workout; this way, you will motivate yourself to actually do the cardio. And, just like a parent rewarding a child for their behavior, be honest with yourself. If you don't do your cardio, wait until you do to reward yourself. Being in charge of a personal reward system can be tough, and requires total self honesty. However, fitness is all about holding yourself accountable. So stay true to yourself and find motivation to make it through cardio!
Blast your favorite music during cardio!
I have found that there's no better way to pass the time than getting lost in your favorite music. Sometimes cardio can seem endless, and the minutes seem to crawl by much slower than they really do. Try making yourself a play list of your favorite motivating songs, and focus on the music while exercising. Of course, don't get so into the music that you forget what you're doing and hurt yourself, but just enough that you have something enjoyable to think about and you keep going. You can even time out your play list to make sure that it goes on for the same amount of time that you plan to be exercising; when the music's done, you're done.
Start tracking your workouts and progress.
A great way to stay motivated and assure yourself that you're seeing results from your hard work is to track your exercise and noticeable changes. Set goals for yourself and pay attention to how you are progressing towards your goals. When you're doing cardio, think of being able to track your progress and how you are working towards your goals. For many people, the act of actually writing down the workouts they've done in a calendar or keeping track of them somewhere is extremely rewarding. Not to mention, when you feel you have reached your goals, this is a great way to look back and be able to recognize all of the hard work you put in.
Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Since exercise is necessary for total body health, why not make the most of it? Workouts should not be looked at as chores, but rather as a fun way to make time for yourself and get your body moving. With these tips, hopefully exercise can become a fun, exciting part of your day.