The term "cardio" can be daunting. Many people automatically associate cardio with running, yet aerobic exercise comes in many forms. While I encourage that everyone run more (myself included), there are definitely other ways to reap the benefits of cardiovascular fitness. Here's to sweat therapy... to endorphins and runner's high!
Here are some other workouts for your cardio fix that you might find you love MORE than running the distance:
1) CIRCUIT TRAINING
An umbrella term that encompasses many new and old workout regimes including cross-fit, HIIT, tabata, insanity workout – you name it. Circuit training gets your heart pumping, your muscles firing and your glands sweating in a short period of time. Circuits usually entail a high intensity interval training session, which has proven most effective for fat burning and to improve cardio capacity. With knee injuries, or any other injury, you can often modify the workouts to best suit your body. The beauty of circuit training is that you can find these workouts anywhere, and while they may vary depending which gym or style you try, the idea is generally similar. What to expect: short workouts, high intensity, dynamic range of movements, weight-bearing exercises combined with short bursts of cardio, and lots and lots of sweat. HER FAVORITE: 15- or 30-minute workouts found in the Nike+ Training Club app.
Boxing is synonymous with Badass. It can be incredibly invigorating and an awesome way to de-stress. Boxing gyms offer variety of approaches in terms of technique, teaching, and class styles. Along with building physical strength and endurance it teaches self-control, focus, confidence, breathing, and inner strength. You’ll be sore after the first few classes, but with regular practice it quickly becomes addictive in the best way possible! HER FAVORITE: UFC gyms offer a free week or Title Boxing Clubs offer a first free class. Take advantage of them and go to the front! Let the instructor know you're new and they'll be sure to help you with your form.
If you’re tired of the same old workout routine, or are recovering from injury, swimming is an amazing form of movement that builds full-body strength in a therapeutic way. Doing laps in a pool or swimming in your neighborhood pool will increase your heart rate, get your body moving, your sweat glands working and your blood pumping. Twenty to thirty minutes of consistent swimming offers a great alternative to your regular workouts. Plus, it works your ENTIRE body. It’s good to change things up, keep your body guessing and it will leave you feeling extra refreshed!
The best way to explore a city is to go by foot. I try to walk anywhere I can and having a FitBit to track your steps definitely helps me stay motivated. Even twenty minutes of walking in the morning is enough to get your metabolism pumping for the rest of the day. While you may not be sweating as you would in a workout or on a run, walking has many great physical and mental benefits. It forces us to slow down and take in our surroundings, and to focus on one step at a time. It increase heart-rate subtly, but more than enough to get blood pumping throughout the body and to the brain. After a walk you may notice you feel more calm and attentive, more alert and awake. Lately, I've been going on a lot of walks, either alone or with a friend. It's a great way to catch up with a friend, listen to your favorite podcast, or just clear your head after a long workday.
I think there's a fine line between being busy, but productive and being too busy and not productive. I personally love being busy and seldom get bored. In fact, I'm probably most productive when I am busy. Yet, my work output loses quality when I'm swamped, which stresses me out. Inefficiency = never fun. Here are a few helpful productivity hacks that I've learned to embrace over the years. They work for me and I hope they work for you, too!
HER HACK #1:
PLAN IN ADVANCE
Every Sunday, plan out your week in advance. From your meals, workouts to your weekly and daily to-do lists. This will help you tackle the urgent things first and will optimize your work flow. Be sure to prioritize the most important tasks on your to-do list and tackle those first, or during the times that you feel you're most focused. Prioritization is key here. Color code, add stickers, phone a friend etc...do what you need to do to figure out what's most important and needs to get done.
HER HACK #2:
TURN YOUR PHONE OFF
....or put it on airplane mode. I've been that person that deactivates my Facebook or Twitter account if I need to control my willpower. Social media is entertaining, informative, inspiring and distracting all at the same time. If you get easily distracted, log out of your social media accounts you're most distracted by. Force yourself to be present and complete the tasks at hand.
HER HACK #3:
Don't forget to plan time for yourself. Your brain needs rest. On a day-to-day basis, be sure to leave the office and your desk for a quick walk, eat lunch away from your desk (I'm really bad at this) and get some fresh air. Stand up and walk around every hour. Remember that your weekends are your time to reenergize. I think it's important to be "always available", especially if you're early on in your career, but you need to set limits and boundaries, too (for your sanity). Oh, and take vacations and savor every minute of them.
HER HACK #4:
Exercise. Even if it's just 20 minutes a day, working out helps boost productivity through alertness. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which makes you more alert and because exercise gives you more energy it helps make me feel more awake! Walking counts (speed it up a little and pump those arms though!).
HER HACK #5:
Our society is fast pace and we're constantly trying to multitask. By splitting your attention, it means that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one fully. Try focusing on one thing at a time so you’re more productive and get things done in a quicker time frame. Get it done and then on to the next task.
HER HACK #6:
LEARN TO SAY NO
Learn to say no to extra workloads, events, dinners and social commitments when you’re too busy. If you say yes, your stress levels will be through the roof. Your friends will understand. Say yes to tasks that will help you destress.