Cardio … not feeling it? Then it’s time to break up the monotony!
Doing the same old cardio workout can not only leave you bored and unmotivated, but the combo of routine and less enjoyment during aerobic exercise could also lead to a lack of results and fewer calories burned.
Mix things up to avoid the cardio rut. By keeping things fresh, you can improve workout enjoyment while engaging a new set of muscles. You certainly don’t want to avoid cardio altogether.
As a reminder, there’s strong scientific evidence that regular aerobic physical activity comes with some pretty impressive benefits:
- Supporting healthy weight loss. Combined with a nutritious and calorie controlled diet, aerobic exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off (1).
- Improving cardiovascular health. About 40 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise three to four times a week can lower the risk for heart disease and stroke (2, 3).
- Boosting your mood. Whether you’re in the mood for a workout or not, mounting evidence suggests that you will feel better after you’ve finished one (4).
- Keeping you active as you age. Regular aerobic exercise paired with good nutrition and resistance training can keep your muscles strong and mobile as you age while supporting healthy cognitive function (5).
- Supporting immune health. Not only does regular aerobic exercise make you feel better physically, but studies have also shown that it can help support healthy immune function for better long-term health (6).
- Improving quality of sleep. Aerobic exercise has been shown to promote better quality sleep and the speed in which you fall into REM sleep (7).
- Increasing your overall energy levels. Regular aerobic exercise helps keep your overall energy levels higher. It’s the release of endorphins during your workout that supports lasting energy throughout your day (8).
But despite the many benefits of cardio, it shouldn’t mean you have to suffer for hours doing an activity you don’t like. There are a number of cardio machine alternatives that can add some variety to your routine while still helping you burn about the same amount of calories as 30 minutes of running on the treadmill (around 300 calories for a 150-pound woman). These include…
60 minutes of…
- Circuit training – a style of weight training that incorporates aerobic activity
- Taking a dance, Zumba, or jazzercise class
- Playing in a softball game
45 minutes of…
- Swimming laps
- Playing in a soccer game
- Playing tennis
40 minutes of…
- High-intensity interval training
- Ultimate Frisbee
- Playing flag football
30 minutes of…
- Jumping rope
- Taking a kickboxing class
- Taking a spin class or bicycling outdoors
If you haven’t been regularly exercising, are overweight or have medical conditions, don’t forget to check in with your medical care provider before starting any exercise routine.
These are just a few ideas to help you get off the cardio rut. The key is in finding ways to achieve your goals while making aerobic exercise a lot more fun.
Curioni CC, Lourenço PM. Long-term weight loss after diet and exercise: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 1168–1174. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803015; published online 31 May 2005
American Heart Association. (2013). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults. American Heart Association. http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Start Walking/American-Heart-Association-Guidelines_UCM_307976_Article. jsp.
Fletcher GF, Balady G, Blair SN, Blumenthal J, Caspersen C, Chaitman B, Epstein S, Sivarajan Froelicher ES, Froelicher VF, Pina IL, Pollock ML. Statement on exercise: benefits and recommendations for physical activity programs for all Americans. A statement for health professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association. Circulation. 1996 Aug 15;94(4):857-62. PMID: 8772712
Byrne A, Byrne DG. The effect of exercise on depression, anxiety and other mood states: A review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research , Volume 37 , Issue 6 , 565 – 574
Hyodo K, Dan I, Kyutoku Y, Suwabe K, Byun K, Ochi G, Kato M & Soya H. The association between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in older men mediated by frontal lateralization. Neuroimage. 2016 Jan 15; 125:291-300.
Gleeson M. Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 August 2007 Vol. 103 no. 2, 693-699 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00008.2007
Kredlow MA, Capozzoli MC, Hearon BA, Calkins AW, Otto MW. The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015 Jun;38(3):427-49. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6. Epub 2015 Jan 18.
Puetz TW, Flowers SS, O’Connor PJ. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue. Psychother Psychosom. 2008;77(3):167-74. doi: 10.1159/000116610. Epub 2008 Feb 14.