Cardio is very important to overall health and fitness. It has many proven benefits to your heart and brain health, such as increasing your mood through endorphins, lower blood pressure, increased blood circulation, and higher amounts of energy. But many people either skip cardio or half-ass it. I’ll admit that I hate doing cardio too, but there are ways to make it more fun.
- Switch it up at the gym
Doing the same routine over and over again gets stale. Instead of running or doing the elliptical, try adding some variance in there. Most gyms have row machines, cycling machines, box jumps, and other types of cardio. Ask a staff member or trainer at your gym on what they offer. Try doing 5 minutes on the treadmill, then 3 minutes of box jumps, then finish off with 5 minutes on the row machine. Spice up your workout by switching it up.
- Kickboxing Cardio/MMA (mixed martial arts)
Kickboxing and MMA are some of the best forms of cardio that you can do. You use your whole body for combat sports, so naturally your heart will beat faster and you will burn more calories. Kickboxing classes can be expensive, so a good alternative is to buy a workout video or watch one online for free. Some gyms have punching bags so you just need to bring your own gloves. You can also bring a partner to hold pads while you practice different strikes and take turns. MMA is equally great for cardio, but you can’t practice it without a partner or instructor. Many MMA gyms will have a free trial that you can use to test out if you like it and if the gym is right for you. If you have extra money and free time, a MMA gym membership is one of the best investments you can make. For more on how they can lead to personal growth, read my article on how MMA builds confidence.
- Outdoor Cardio
There are some great ways to enjoy cardio while outside. Most people think about going for a run or jog, and that can be fun too. Trying to run in different places, like a different neighborhood, park, or area downtown. Other ways to make cardio fun are swimming, hiking, and bicycling. No matter where you live, there will be areas where you can do one or more of those. Even going on a long walk can be very fun, and it’s better than sitting on the couch.
- Team up with others
Working out alone can be tough, so bring a friend or partner along. Having someone else working out with you will bring extra motivation since you can encourage each other and get competitive. It makes it easier and less lonely, especially if you get distracted or give up easily. You will have someone to talk to, someone who is working with you towards the same fitness goal. Try incorporating the other cardio ideas here with a partner to make them better and more enjoyable. When I was a kid I would race my dad in the backyard often. He would always beat me, but by the time I was 12 or 13 I started beating him. Whether I won or lost, it was always a lot more fun than just running by myself.
- Use different media
This one is pretty clear and I talked about it in my article 10 Songs You Should Add to Your Workout Playlist. Music can be a great motivator and will make cardio much more fun. Whether you’re into rock, rap, pop, reggae, or jazz, every genre has great songs that will pump you up. I have found that the right music will make me workout harder and have more energy. It is also fun to listen to a podcast or radio show while doing cardio. Another thing I’ve done before is watch videos on my phone or read a book while doing cardio. Whatever media you choose, it will pass the time and make cardio more fun.
How do you make cardio more fun? What are your thoughts on improving your cardio routine? Let me know in the comments below!