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.
Summer is right around the corner. As Chicagoans, we look forward to this moment from August to May each year. We slay in the gym, choose more green smoothies (kale yeah) over Stan's donuts and have our favorite Class Pass studio's schedules memorized all in anticipation of that glorious city moment when the temps hit the 70s...and then the 80s...and then the 90s. Are you summer ready to hit North Avenue beach?
Let's be real. We're not always in the mood for a group fitness class or making a trip out to the gym. This is especially true if your only option is going after 5pm on a weekday (struggle is so real for all the 9-5ers). Don't let the obstacles keep you from getting to your fit body goal. Thankfully, we have amazing workout apps (Nike+ Training Club (NTC) app <3), printable programs (where my TIU and BBG girls at!) and a browser full of at-home workouts only a Google search away.
We all have our favorite home-workout moves that come up in those plans (love/hate relationship with Mr. Burpee). Here's 35-40 minutes of heart=pumping cardio and strength training moves that keep me goin'. Make time and be present. If you're feeling really antsy and just want to move throughout your day, you can break the workout out into parts. The point? Just move.
Sayonara excuses. Hello endorphins.
Still have some energy? Rest for 60 seconds and repeat.