Beyond tallying up minutes, how can you make cardio count? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting 150 minutes of exercise of moderate intensity per week. That’s doable, you think. Is just hitting that number enough to keep you motivated when you’re strolling up to the treadmill for the umpteenth time this year? If you’re human, there will likely come a time when knowing a heart-pumping workout is simply “good for you” isn’t enough to keep you moving.

Try 5 Ways to Take the Mindlessness Out of Cardio Workouts!

1) Hybrid Hype!

Triathletes are masters of this trick. They are devoted to cross-training and make their cardio workouts matter by keeping their end goals in mind when crafting their plan. Brick workouts, ½ cycling ½ running, not only physically prepare athletes to be able to perform well in each sport, they develop transition techniques – a practical skill in itself. Life demands that you quickly switch up activities and think on your feet. If you’re tired of the treadmill, why not do a fast kick on the mill and then head over to the rower to blast through some meters? Get creative. You’ll challenge your heart, muscles, and brain!

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2) Introduce Intervals.

Intervals are hybrid workouts partially emphasizing speed. Intervals not only help you develop agility skills that keep your feet moving fast, but they can also quicken your mind’s response to stimulus. It’s easy to zone out in a steady-state cardio workout (which can be a positive thing when it induces a productive state of flow). But, if it feels monotonous, try rut-busting intervals to push you beyond plateaus. You can do cardio intervals or cardio/strength intervals. (Here are some to try.) Both focus on a fast-moving cardio bout, followed up by slower recovery movements.

3) Part Ways with a Plan!

Do a freestyle workout that commits to nothing other than exploration. Try a fartlek workout on any piece of equipment or on a run, swim, bike or walk. A fartlek workout just means you randomly speed up and slow down. Indeed, some people call it “speed play.” It should be fun! On that note…

4) Surprise Yourself.

If you are devoted to treadmill #3, aisle #1 or spin bike #12, let someone else hop on there for a change. If you run or walk a certain loop in the same direction, run it in reverse. Suddenly your downhills become uphills. The right side of the road becomes left. A change in location or orientation, no matter how slight, can bring a fresh perspective.

5) Try a Cardio Class!

It can be inspiring to draw on the energy of a group and have someone else coach you. There are a wide array of live and virtual group classes from which to choose like cycling, boxing, bootcamp, and dancing. If you haven’t entered a studio or been coached in a while, give it a go so you can keep going and going and going…


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