Even the most enthusiastic cardio-lovers have days where the very thought of hitting the treadmill, elliptical, bike, pool, track — any cardio, anywhere — makes you want to groan and crawl back into bed with your Netflix queue. Taking a rest day is good for your body and your mind, and it's never a bad thing to give yourself a break from fitness, but we also know that getting moving, even just a little, can loosen up your body and boost your mood for the rest of the day.
"Those days happen to everyone. I can sympathize!" said Karena Dawn, personal trainer and co-creator of the popular fitness community Tone It Up. And yes, it makes us feel better that even a successful fitness entrepreneur can relate to our anti-cardio mood swings. Karena's strategy for pushing past is easy to implement: think of an activity you really enjoy doing and use some creativity to combine it with your workout.
Walk or Do Stairs For a Quick Cardio Workout
"I like getting outside and I like to listen to podcasts," she said. "So I motivate myself by saying, 'OK, I'm just going to go for a long walk and listen to a podcast.'" The walk is a chance to zone out and relax while getting some exercise, making it something she can look forward to rather than dread.
Simple is the name of the game. The lower the barrier to entry — aka the less work it takes you to actually start the cardio — the easier it is to get it done. Fellow Tone It Up co-founder Katrina Scott's go-to cardio works in a similar way, with one extra variable: her baby daughter, Bella, who was born in October 2018. "I have a set of stairs near my house," she explained. "What I've been doing is wearing Bella on me in one of those wearable baby carriers, so that it's almost like a weighted vest, and we do some short stair circuits." You can even use stairs in your house or at a local stadium or high school, she said, to get in some quick, heart-pumping sets. If you're at the gym, try a StairMaster workout like this 30-minute option.
The simple, effective takeaway is that when cardio by itself sounds awful, turn it into something that's actually fun. Do your elliptical reps with a podcast or audiobook, grab a friend (or your kids!) to take a walk, or watch a favorite show on the cardio machines. The winning equation: simple cardio plus fun activity equals a workout you're sure to crush and enjoy at the same time.