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How to Beat Boredom When Doing Cardio

10 Ways to Pass the Time on Cardio Machines

If you can't get outside for a run or bike ride, using a cardio machine is a wonderful alternative. Since the weather is always perfect indoors, you never have an excuse not to work out. It can be agonizingly boring though, so here are some suggestions from FitSugar readers to help beat the boredom and make your cardio machine time more enjoyable.

  1. Kimpossible and laellavita suggest doing interval training. Switch between moderate running and sprinting to keep your mind busy. This is also my favorite way to work out on a cardio machine.
  2. You can also do intervals with the incline, as suggested by syako. Pump up the incline for a few minutes, then lower it for a few minutes.
  3. FitSugar reader tangentlines suggests reading big novels to pass the time, but if you don't like flipping pages, shiningeyes suggests listening to audiobooks.

To hear the other great ideas,


  1. Listen to music on iPods or MP3 players. If you like more of a mix, there's a Pandora application on the iPhone that kyui707 recommends. It creates a music station for you based on music you like, and since you never know what's coming next, it's a great way to get you moving.
  2. If you're bored with music, KMattes recommends listening to podcasts. You can download them from iTunes on just about any topic from wedding planning to cooking to fitness.
  3. If you like watching TV, littlekaren suggests hitting the gym during times when your favorite shows are on. If you have a machine at home, kris0bot says to DVR TV shows and save them for when you exercise.
  4. If there's a shelf on your machine, kakyke recommends watching TV episodes, like Grey's Anatomy or Lost, online on your laptop. Or you can watch movies.
  5. If you're working hard and really pushing yourself, misskacie says it doesn't allow her the comfort to get bored. So pump up the intensity level.
  6. Work out with a friend — mek123 says talking makes the time go by quickly.
  7. Many readers such as darc5204 recommend daydreaming or deep thinking while on a cardio machine. You can distract yourself by working through a problem or making plans.


Join The Conversation
the-makeup-blogette the-makeup-blogette 8 years
My fave is intervals, music and daydreaming. Reading and talking? If I can do that, I prolly should increase the intensity of my workout.
misskacie misskacie 8 years
I can forget about reading. I'm too tall for the little "bookrests" on the machine consoles! I have to look down so far I cut off my airflow! I wish I could read through a magazine, but no dice. I totally agree about intervals, though. Intervals are as awesome to keep it interesting as they are effective!
lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 8 years
if i have to run on a treadmill instead of outside, i usually have a celeb magazine that i can just look at the pics (can't read while running), the TV on, and music playing. SO not true that if you're running hard enough you won't be bored. I'm a competitive runner, and a couple weeks ago I did a 5k race pace run (under 20:30) and was DEFINITELY bored (and that's a lot shorter than I usually run). On an elliptical, it is easier to read.
amandaaa amandaaa 8 years
i prefer to listen to my ipod and read while on the elliptical or bike or walking on the treadmill...but when i start running, i can't read
katie225 katie225 8 years
if you're bored, you're not working hard enough. go to a group exercise class if you can't find any way to work hard enough. most people i see on cardio machines are just doing light cardio, which is such a waste of time. if you're going to spend your time working out, at least spend your time actually working out instead of passing the time. here's what i do when i'm on the elliptical: i put on one of my spin/cycle routines (i'm a cycle instructor) and pretend like i'm in class. i adjust the resistance depending on the speed of the song just like i do in class (faster beat, lower resistance and vice versa). i get a good one hour workout, and i'm almost the only one on the elliptical machines actually sweating and breathing heavy. everyone else is just wasting time! like i said before, if you cannot get past your boredom on the cardio machines, then go to a group exercise class instead. it'll be much more worth the time!
Kyko Kyko 8 years
I do many of those things. My favs are iPod, interval training (it's way easier to do things in manageable chunks!), the sexual fantasy thing (*blushes*) and just using "the secret". I remind myself of what I want my body to look like and WHY I'm on that treadmill, and it makes me feel empowered, and like I'm actively moving towards my goal.
bisou002 bisou002 8 years
anonymous, that one is my favorite! ;)
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I watch my favorite morning talk shows while I work out. During the commercials, I really kick up the intensity and look at the displays and then when the show's back on, I settle back a little and watch the show. You'd be amazed at how fast the time goes by!
La-Tua-Cantante La-Tua-Cantante 8 years
I really can't read while working out. Music, daydreaming, and some intervals is what works for me.
brookrene brookrene 8 years
Yeah, i often find those who are reading aren't doing too much for their bodies...that doesn't mean everyone, just MOST.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
Reading ANYTHING while working out makes my eyes hurt and I get dizzy. I don't think you're actually supposed to be able to read stuff unless you're just doing core training that allows for a lot of stability.
tangentlines tangentlines 8 years
Anonymous—I read my books on the elliptical. It's a misconception that you can only read if you do a light cardio routine. In fact, my heart rate bounces up to about 170 beats per minute during my elliptical workout. Reading only works on the elliptical, and it forces you to keep steady on the machine. You shouldn't be bouncing up and down anyway, instead you should be using your core to balance yourself on the machine. It's a good place to get reading done.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I'm a real girly-girl, but watching sports on the TVs at the gym is the main thing that helps me pass the time and stay energized. I especially love to watch hockey because I grew up in a hockey family, it's a very fast moving sport so it keeps me interested and the players are easy on the eyes ;) But baseball also works too.
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 8 years
I really only workout inside if my schedule won't allow me to run outside when it's light out or when it's either so cold it'll kill you (happen on occasion in chicago) or so hot out you'll get a heat stroke (again can happen). But that said, I really believe in deep thinking and music for passing time. On long runs in the summers I just keep thinking about how this training will pay off and I replay great races in my head, or daydream ideal fantasy scenarios--really motivating!
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