It’s rare that you hear someone say “I just LOVE cardio”. It’s the stuff that makes you sweat, makes you breathe heavy and on occasion, make you feel like you’re going to hurl.
But does it have to be that bad or can you make fitness fun? What is the difference between cardio and strength training?
Cardio can be anything you want it to be. Many people think it’s long, slow-distance running, biking or hiking, while others think it’s high-intensity spin classes and brutal bootcamps.
The reality is that just about anything can be cardio, so long as it gets your heart rate up and you breathing deeply. You should also aim to engage every muscle group for a full body workout.
Involving the large muscles in the body naturally increases your respiration and heart rate.
Why Do You Need Cardio?
Cardio helps you burn calories, improves metabolism and strengthens your heart and lungs. It helps in building muscle mass and losing weight and prevents cholesterol and high blood pressure.
It helps maintain bone density, supplies oxygen to the brain, improves mood to fight stress, and enhances concentration and energy.
In other words, you need it. Love it or hate it, cardio is good for you.
If you’re one of the people that places cardio in the ‘hate it’ basket, revisioning the necessary evil will be your ticket to success. Disguise cardio as something you love and you’ll never loathe it again.
You will quickly see that cardio can be fun and before you know it you’ll be cardioing left, right and centre. Killer bod and healthy mind here you come!
Alternative Cardio Activities To Consider:
If you enjoy the slow pace of yoga, you should give aerial yoga a go. It offers the same benefits as traditional yoga, but it pushes your exercise to the next level to get your heart rate up more and you breathing more deeply.
Gravity is working against you, making your body work harder than usual. With aerial yoga you need to engage your core to balance and stabilise yourself, giving you a great cardio workout that’s essentially like hanging in a hammock.
Taking a dance class at your local studio, trying your hand at Just Dance on the Xbox or popping on your favourite upbeat playlist and freestyling it in the living room is a great way to burn calories while having fun.
According to CalorieLab, you can burn as much as 238 calories with an hour of general dancing, increased to 612 calories when you add in a 10-12-inch step.
Dance Cardio is totally #trending. Typically it involves workout components, like lunges, ab work and bodyweight strength training. But even if you wing it, you’re in for a full body workout that’s heavy on the enjoyment factor.
Have you ever seen anyone bouncing on a trampoline that didn’t have a smile on their face? Trampolines make you happy and the higher you bounce the happier you get.
There are a lot of great trampolining schools you can visit to give it a try or you can purchase your very own for the backyard. You can flip, bounce, fly through the air and burn calories without having to exert a huge amount of force, stress and energy on the body.
You’ll also build up your technique and skills, improving your confidence and body image.
Lace up those 1980s funky coloured skates and get yourself to a rollerskating class. You’ll have so much fun you’ll forget it’s good for you.
You don’t have to be a seasoned skater to attend so even if you haven’t skated since you were 10 we recommend giving this activity a go.
RollerFit, for example, is a fitness program that caters to all levels and once you’ve gained some skills you can up your game to join a roller derby team. You can burn up to 400 calories an hour too and strengthen and tone those leg muscles.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) elevates the heart rate quickly and allows you to burn calories long after your sweat session. Short bursts of movement causes spikes in your heart rate, contributing to the afterburn effect.
You can create your own HIIT workout by completing a few short rounds of high-intensity exercises (like burpees, jumping jacks, high knees and mountain climbers) with a short rest in between.
Or you can visit your local gym where they are sure to run a HIIT class. The beauty of this workout? It’s fast and over and done with quickly.
Cycling With A View
If you’re in or around Sydney, check out Scenic Cycle for indoor cycling with a difference. Take a ride on a mindblowing journey through some of the world’s most spectacular cycling routes. Scenes are in full definition and matched to a heart pounding soundtrack.
If you don’t have time to escape the city with your bike, this is the next best way to get your cardio cycle on. The scenes are so beautiful you’ll forget you’re pedaling away.
If regular cycling (even the sort with amazing global footage) doesn’t do it for you, what about aqua spinning? Aqua spinning takes a stationary bike and submerges it in 3-4 feet of water.
Cycling becomes easier on your joints than normal cycling, but you’re required to pedal against the resistance of the water. This gives you a tougher workout but the moisture in the pool draws heat away from the body to help regulate body temperature.
If you want to work hard without getting sweaty, this is the activity for you.
I kid you not, quidditch is now a thing. It’s a sport in which you mount a broomstick and while it might not be as magical as it is in the Harry Potter series, it’s a whole lot of fun and a great cardio workout.
To score points, chasers and keepers must get the quaffle (a slightly deflated volleyball), into one of the opposing hoops. To stop chasers and keepers doing this, bludgers are allowed to throw dodgeballs at them.
Once a player is hit by an opposing bludger they must dismount their broom, drop any ball being held, and return to and touch their hoops before being allowed to return to the game.
Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, acrobatics, dance and music. With deep roots in African and Brazilian history, this is not your average cardio workout.
You’ll kick high, punch hard and not stop moving and shaking the entire time. Sounds tough, but you’ll do it with a smile on your face.
Don’t let your distaste for cardio turn you off completely. Disguise your necessary evil and pick from one of the activities above. Happy exercising!
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Shay de Silva