Cardio. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it has clear health benefits that include improving your heart’s health, increasing lung capacity and building endurance. When paired with proper nutrition and weight training, it can also help maintain a healthy weight or encourage weight loss if need be. The key is to find cardio exercises that you actually enjoy doing. Good news for those who aren’t runners: You don’t have to sweat it out on the treadmill or around the block to reap similar benefits.
Here are five ways to get your cardio workouts in and actually enjoy them.
Also known as ‘High Intensity Interval Training,’ this popular form of training pairs anaerobic exercise with aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise is short bursts of intense exercise – it’s all about all out effort. Examples of anaerobic exercise include 1 minute of burpees or a 30-second sprint. Aerobic exercise is when you exert low to moderate energy over a longer period of time. Using an elliptical at a comfortable pace for 30 minutes, running, swimming and biking are examples of aerobic exercise (all performed at a pace at which you’re able to speak).
HIIT workouts marry aerobic and anaerobic exercise so your body can reap the benefits of both. A number of apps offer wonderful HIIT workouts that can be performed at the gym or at home. One of our favorite apps that feature HIIT workouts is NTC (Nike Training Club). It’s free and offers a variety of levels and workout goals including Lean, Tone and Strengthen. These workouts feature squats, lunges, pushups, Russian twists and much more. Quick and intense Tabata workouts (4-minute workouts do exist!) are becoming increasingly popular. Both workouts fit within the time constraints of busy schedules. We like to power through them in the morning while we’re fresh.
Brave the Weather – Workout Outside
While certain regions of the U.S. have yet to experience colder weather, when it does come time to bundle up, don’t let this be an excuse for skipping workouts. If you live near the mountains, try your hand at skiing or snowboarding. Running in winter (we said we weren’t going to mention running, but we can’t help ourselves), with the right gear, is exhilarating and gives you serious bragging rights. Just make sure to stay hydrated. Just because you’re cold doesn’t mean you’re not heating up and losing fluids. Schedule happy hour dates at iceskating rinks instead of your local bar. It’ll warm you up just as quickly as a glass of wine and you’ll be reaping the healthy benefits of fun cardio. If you live in a state that doesn’t get too chilly, add hiking to your routine. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the world around you and exercise.
Dance for Fitness – And Endorphins
Look at the fit, smiling Dancing with the Stars contestants. They’re working up a considerable sweat and clearly having fun doing so. Dancing is an incredible form of exercise that builds coordination, balance, strength and agility. There are a variety of fit celebrities that swear by dance workouts. We love this workout that actress Olivia Wilde uses to stay toned and happy (dance releases endorphins which make you happy).
If you’re not ready to take on a dance class at your local gym, spend 20 minutes every day dancing to your favorite songs at home. It may sound silly, but we guarantee you’ll have fun.
Spin for Cardio
Have you tried spin? Even if you aren’t an avid cyclist (or a cyclist at all) spin can be enjoyable. The key is to find the right kind of class for you. We’ve been to a number of spin classes and the big differentiator for us is the instructor’s teaching style and the music he or she chooses to play. Some instructors lay the praise on thick while others prefer a more silent approach. We’ve experienced classes that feature upbeat pop songs and others that blast slower grunge music. Give a few different classes a try. We love that spin offers a way to sweat it out during colder months. You’ll feel exhausted and energized all at the same time.
Bonus Tip: Use Groupon to Test New Workouts
If you’re still not sure which cardio workout is right for you and you don’t want to invest in ongoing spin classes or skiing gear, test classes through Groupon. We love searching Groupon to find new ways to workout. It’s a great option for a rainy day, a date, or a healthy outing with friends. Cardio classes we found when searching include Krav Maga self defense classes, a variety of boot camp classes, Parkour classes, spinning and much more. The options are endless.
If you enjoyed this post, you might like our recent post, 3 Sneaky Ways to Get Your Workout In.
And if you’re looking for an extra pep in your step to energize you for workouts, try our B12 Slice of Life gummy vitamins.