Some may call me crazy, but I actually enjoy running. Truth be told I really disliked running until last year. My trainer/coach Regan really got me into it and running has now become part of my daily fitness routine. For me, the benefits far outweigh the struggle of the task. I feel better, my appetite is more controlled, and I stay leaner and more in shape in all aspects of life.
Lately, however I have been in a funk. I have an injury that has me sidelined and it has forced me to back out of a race and stop running all together until I heal. Needless to say, some of my motivation and drive has dwindled a bit and it has me frustrated.
The good news and somewhat the inspiration for this particular gratitude post, is I am still able to workout at a high level. I can still lift and strength train which is fantastic. My cardio outlet, which has been trail running, has been put on hold, but that does not mean that I cannot still do cardio. Believe it or not there are a ton of options.
High Intensity Interval Training, more commonly referred to as HIIT, has rightfully been a big topic of discussion in the fitness industry lately. HIIT is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets (and keeps) your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. With HIIT, your body is consuming so much oxygen that when you are finished it continues to ask for more during recovery. This is known as “Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption” or “EPOC” and is the catalyst for more calories and fat being torched after your workout. On the fence about HIIT – let me give you a few more reasons as to how this benefits you:
-HIIT increases your metabolism and that helps with calorie burn and weight management. The average person burns 12 to 22 calories per minute. Of course this is subject to change depending on your physical level and build.
-HIIT is time effective. Because you are working so hard you don’t have to work out as long – bonus!
-HIIT requires little to no equipment and it can be done anywhere. NO EXCUSES!
Swimming is another great source of cardio and is great for both the body and mind. If you can and, weather permits, get to yourself to a pool, here is why:
-Swimming reduces stress. Which makes this activity in itself a no brainer.
-Swimming burns a ton of calories, which helps with weight management. You can expect to burn 300+ calories with just 30 minutes of the breaststroke.
-Swimming is low impact which is great for the joints.
-Swimming increases the heart rate and strengthens muscles.
-Swimming is beneficial for breath training, which ultimately will lead to more productive workouts when you are out of the pool.
No water? No problem. One of my favorite machines to use when I can’t run is the rowing machine. The rowing machine has numerous strength and cardio benefits and is often underrated. Check out these awesome reasons why rowing can be a great alternative to running:
-Harvard Health Publications says that a 180lb man can burn around 377 calories in just 30 minutes on the rowing machine.
-Rowing is another low impact machine and workout that provides high cardiovascular results
-Rowing strengthens the glutes, legs, back, arms, and core. Simply put, it works much of your body.
Whether in a class or on the road/trail, there are some major benefits to spin and cycling. Group lead cycling classes, are ideal for someone who likes a class atmosphere where they can still challenge their individual ability. Much like group running does. With your feel clipped in to the pedals, proper form is easier to achieve and any lower body injury you are rehabbing should be safe. Here are a few more of my favorite things about getting on a bike:
-You can expect to burn 500 calories or more per spin class. There really aren’t many cardio machines that can do that.
-Much like swimming, cycling is low impact.
-Spin can really define and lean out your legs and glutes and that just helps the esteem when you are in a pair of jeans or shorts
-In addition to your legs and glutes, proper form will also hit the abs, core and back.
Whatever your method of cardio, always remember that there are numerous benefits. Cardiovascular exercise not only burns calories, but does the following:
-Strengthens the heart and lungs
-Reduces stress and anxiety
-Reduces the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer (because cancer sucks)
-Gives you more energy
-Helps you develop better routines and patterns
-Provides self-esteem and confidence
You are now armed with more cardio knowledge so go forth and run, row, swim, and sweat!
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Top 5: Cardio in Cinema
- HIIT: Rocky 4 (1985): Where he is getting crazy in Russia. Killing it old school!
- Swimming: Jaws (1975): Seriously, this Shark can swim haha.
- Rowing: Deliverance (1972): After this movie, anyone that hears a banjo paddles faster. Talk about getting the heart rate up.
- Biking: The 40-Year-Old-Virgin (2005): No caption needed!
Honorable mention: RAD! (1986): This movie is solely responsible for a broken wrist and some gnarly cuts and bruises. “Send me and Angel”
- Running: Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981): Talk about an intense run! Indiana outruns a boulder! Forrest Gump: (1994): Any Tom Cruise Movie: