The Most Dreaded Word in Fitness: Cardio

Kendra Wicks

When most people think of cardio, they think of running. Long distance runs and sprints are good options for cardio but it’s important to note that they aren’t the only ways to get your heart rate up. 

If running isn’t for you, it’s a good idea to find something different to fit cardio into your routine, cardio exercises burn fat, increase your cardiovascular health and strengthen endurance. 

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If you’re willing to try out some new machines at the gym, the stair machine, elliptical or row machine are great options. These machines will allow you to get in a cardio workout without needing the space to jump or run around. Climbing stairs and using an elliptical will also give your legs a good burn and rowing will effectively hit your entire body. 

With the right space and resources, less traditional forms of cardio can be fun. Dancing, swimming, jumping rope and bike riding are all unique ways to break a sweat. Playing sports will allow you to have fun while working out. If you have the money to spend, taking classes, such as cycling or boxing, can be excellent ways to get involved in a great workout. You can also go out with some friends and hit tennis balls, kick a soccer ball around or play a basketball game. Finding a way to involve your passions with your goals will make it easier to stay the course and be successful. 

By far the most effective way to do cardio is through High Intensity Interval Training. HITT workouts involve doing an exercise with high intensity for a short amount of time, followed by a rest period. These intervals of hard work will shock your body and force it to keep burning fat. When you run at the same pace, your body gets used to the movement and begins attempting to conserve calories instead of burn them. Switching up the intensity will cause it to tap into stored fat for extra energy. 

The rest periods are good for your mind as well. It’s easier to give your all while performing an exercise if you know that you’ll get a minute to catch your breath afterward. This type of training can be applied to almost any kind of exercise. You can swim, jump rope, run or do jumping jacks for an intense workout. The possibilities are endless. The key is to make it fun, change it up and push your limits.