I don’t think I have ever met anyone who seriously LOVED cardio, but it is an important part or exercise and staying healthy, whether you are trying to improve your cardiovascular strength, keep your heart rate strong, lose weight, train for a race, be able to keep up with your kids at home, etc. Most everyone dreads having to wake up early or head to the gym after a long day of work and all you want to do is get snug in bed or curl up on the couch for the rest of the day. It’s sweaty, it's usually hard to breath during, it takes time out of your day, and it definitely makes you pretty tired afterward. All I’m saying is...there ARE ways to make it fun and more interesting!
There are three different types of cardio that you can use for different goals. Firstly, and most common, is the steady-state cardio, which is where you keep the difficulty or heart rate the same for the entire session. Second to mention is the super intense HIIT (high intensity interval training), which is very popular and works well, especially if you are short on time. Lastly, we have the much more entertaining calisthenics, which consists of a variety of different movements to keep your heart rate up for the entire cardio session. For all three of these types of cardio, you don’t even have to have a gym membership or cardio equipment to get a great workout in!
With the steady state cardio, my personal favorite is the stairmaster, but you can also walk on an incline on the treadmill, take your dog out for a walk, ride your bike outside, etc. This is an easier type of cardio, since you’re not needing to change speed/movements/exercises in the middle of it, but it usually better as a long cardio session (30-60 minutes for example). I really like to use this time to catch up on TV shows, read/listen to a book, or watch YouTube videos. It’s especially encouraging to save your favorite videos or TV shows for ONLY during your cardio sessions, because it will be a great distraction and it will help motivate you to do your cardio as well. I’ve often found myself extending my cardio session on the stairmaster JUST to find out what happens next or to finish an episode!
If you’re more short on time and want to stay busy, then HIIT might be more your style. You can get a great cardio session out of 20-30 minutes and have your heart rate jumping, sweat dripping, and endorphins flowing in that short amount of time. This type of cardio is where you do intervals of extreme effort followed by a short rest, but still moving, and then right back to extreme effort. Of course, this depends on your personal fitness level, but I’ll usually sprint for 30 seconds and follow it up with a minute of walking and repeat that process over and over until I’m done. However, don’t forget to warm up for a few minutes before starting the intervals and then cool back down afterward! I will sometimes still put on a show to watch during this, but I find that having to change the speed/difficulty so often usually keeps me engaged and busy enough to not really need a distraction. I’ve also made HIIT more fun by getting my dog to do sprints up our street with me and then walk back to the start. It’s a great workout for both of us!
Finally, the most engaging of all cardio IMO would be calisthenics. If you want to do cardio, but feel more like a full body workout, then calisthenics is for you! From jumping jacks, to low squats, to burpees, and push ups you will always be doing something and staying awake during this type of cardio. There are so many different movements and exercises you can use for this as long as you keep moving and keep your heart rate up. Depending on the weather and season, you can do this type of full body workout/cardio at home, in a park, in a gym, in a playground, etc. It always helps to have equipment to use, but all you really need is your bodyweight, tenacity and sometimes a little ingenuity to modify and use unconventional things for your workout (like a park bench or tricep dips). Utilize your resources! It’s even more fun if you challenge a friend to try and keep up with each other or to make different cardio workouts and share them! Not everyone is going to like doing the same movements and exercises, but that’s the beauty of calisthenics where you can always change things up every time you do it.