I’m hope I’m not the only one to have a love/hate relationship with “Cardio Days”. I know a good run gives me a good sweat, and helps burn off the ice cream I (may have) indulged in, but I mostly find cardio quite monotonous and boring. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the treadmill, the elliptical, the bike, the stepper, or even the rowing machine- they’re all activities that require me to move on the spot for at least 10 minutes at a time — which gets really old and boring, really fast.
I may be an avid gym goer who usually tries to challenge myself, but I hate running of most sorts; I’m no good at it, and I have a hard time pushing myself to try harder when it comes to anything cardio-wise. I’ve found a few ways to change up my cardio routine and make it more exciting; if I can manage to get through these suggestions, you can too.
1. Outside Intervals: If you’re like me and suck at pushing yourself to run long distances, use landmarks as interval points when you run outside. For example, if you’re running along a street with street lights along it, run the length of 3 light poles and then walk for one. If there aren’t any street lights, you can use other objects: garbage cans, houses, driveways, bushes, etc.
2. Stairs: Running up and down stairs may not seem appealing, but I’ve discovered that it’s actually a quick way to get a great sweat going. I usually switch between running single steps, skipping steps, and side stepping up the stairs. As of lately, I’ve done a series of stairs for about 20 minutes. (the set of stairs I use have 20 steps, with a platform in the middle of them)
3. Uphill Sprints: Instead of running along level pavement or up a set of stairs, I just try running up a hill. Try to find a hill that matches the distance you plan to sprint, and repeat the process approximately 10 times. (high intensity sprints = shorter hill, lower intensity sprints = longer hill).
4. Swimming: Get wet, get a great whole body workout, and burn calories. Whether you jump in the lake or a pool nearby, try and find somewhere where you can swim for a good length that tires you out in a good way. I tend to stick to pools, but lakes and oceans work too. I try and shoot for a solid 30 minutes of back and forth lane swims, but if you’re splashing around in a lake/ocean, just try swimming to a certain point (once or several times depending on the length) or aim to swim for a certain length of time. (15-30 minutes)
5. With the summer days upon us, there’s great opportunity to take cardiovascular activities on the beach and in the sunshine. I don’t have my rollerblades anymore, but I’ve managed to pull my bike out of storage. If I don’t feel like biking, power walks are usually a good excuse to get outside in the sun. I try and make sure I have a relaxing destination (the spa, a park, the beach)- somewhere I can look forward to enjoying the outdoors.
Cardio doesn’t always have to be boring, and like many workouts, it doesn’t have to stay inside the gym either. Next time you need to get your heart rate going, get outside and find a new way to change up your routine. Coming from someone who doesn’t enjoy the process of doing cardio workouts (but loves the after effects) – interesting methods makes the whole idea of doing the cardiovascular workout less daunting.
If you have any more great suggestions that I missed, let me know! I’ll take almost any alternative to running on the treadmill…