8 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Enjoying Cardio

By Mikey Rox on 29 July 2015 1 comment

If you want to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, cardio is a necessary evil. Personally, I hate cardio — with a passion. But what I hate more is looking in the mirror and not liking the body I see staring back at me. So I run and I sweat and I work hard to stay in shape — even if I cheat a little along the way. Pull a page from my book and enhance your own cardio flow with these eight tricks to help you enjoy the burn a little more.

1. Have a Reason for Doing Cardio

First and foremost, you need to have a reason to get on that treadmill or pound the pavement or whatever you do to get that heart rate pumping. "Just because" doesn't cut it, and with no motivation to keep at it, you're almost destined to fail. Give yourself a fighting chance at sticking to your cardio regimen by thinking about why you want to get and stay active. It can be a broad reason like a desire to lose weight (though, a specific number should be the goal), or it can be a short-term goal like conditioning yourself for a race.

For my own part, when I decided to take my body back last year after many years of neglect, I set a weight goal — a specific number — that I wanted to reach. It took a few months of engaging in cardio activities several days a week, but I finally reached the goal. And then something awesome happened. Once I reached the weight loss goal, I was invigorated with the sense that I can really accomplish my fitness goals if I follow through. I started running farther and longer and harder. I've been committed to my fitness for over a year now and my body has made an amazing transformation. The same thing can happen to you too if you just give yourself a chance.

2. Schedule a Workout Before You Have to Be Somewhere

Pressed for time? That could be the best time to fit in a cardio workout, according to Arial Friedman, an NYC-based fitness trainer and instructor who created a series of online workouts tailored specifically for people always on the go.

"Schedule a workout just before you have to be somewhere," she suggests. "That way, you know you'll have to get it in quick and be done with it. Do it before work, a dinner date, or picking up the kids and the energy you get from your sweat session will carry you through the rest of your day."

3. Listen to Music to Keep Your Body Moving

Music compels us to get up and dance at parties, so it only makes sense that it helps us keep moving during our cardio workouts. But in this day and age — with so much technology at our fingertips — you're experience can be much more fun and dynamic than running that same tired playlist.

For instance, Spotify recently added a great feature on its mobile iPhone app geared toward runners that alters the tempo of the music. Using the hardware in smartphones — like the accelerometer and GPS capability — to determine pace, Spotify Running creates customized soundtracks to match the tempo at which you're running, which can help you feel more energetic and motivated by moving to the beat.

4. Slow Down, Take a Break, Catch Your Breath

When I first started running, I somehow got it in my head that I wasn't going hard enough if I didn't run the full length of my workout — however long it was — without stopping. Now, however, I don't believe that at all, because I never would have built the cardio stamina I have today to run 10 miles (from a very breathy three miles a year ago) without slowing down, taking a break, and catching my breath sometimes. My cardio session wasn't a race, and neither is yours. Push yourself, for sure, but do your cardio at your own pace so you can eventually go that extra mile.

5. Set Goals for Yourself to Achieve

The first point of this post was to have a reason for doing cardio, and that can be anything. But having a reason isn't necessarily a goal — and you should absolutely set a goal for your cardio. There are several goals you can set, in fact, like time, distance, or a weight goal. It really depends on what you're training for, but no matter what it is, you'll have an easier time staying the course if there's a light at the end of the tunnel you're trying to reach.

6. Pair Your Cardio With a Fitness Tracker

There are plenty of great fitness apps available that you can put on your phone to help keep track of your cardio workouts. Personally, I like MapMyRun because of its ease of use. It allows me to plan a route, and it saves my progress with statistics so I can see where I'm at health-wise. It also tells me my time and distance as I'm running — a great motivator to run a little harder — and when I'm finished I can share my accomplishment on social media. Which brings me to my next point…

7. Share Your Cardio Success on Social Media

MapMyRun and other fitness apps allow you to share your progress and success on social media, but be warned that there's a whole faction of people out there who whine and moan about people who post about their workouts online. Here are a few reasons I don't give a damn about that.

  • There's no social media bible that tells me what I can and can't post.
     
  • You can hide or block my posts from your feed if you don't like what I'm sharing.
     
  • I work hard to stay in shape and I want to share it if only to receive those motivating comments and likes.
     
  • If I have to see pictures of your babies all day; you can handle shots of my sweaty, glistening, gorgeous abs.

Sharing my cardio success on social media helps me stay active and push harder for another reason — it holds me accountable for my own success. I post a lot of pictures of my workouts and I take a lot of shirtless selfies, because, well, this is the best body I've ever had in my life and I want to show it off. But I also want to keep at it. I don't want to post pics where I've let myself go, and I don't want anyone to think I have either. Plus, looking at the old pics of my healthy, fit frame remind me of how good it felt to put in that work to get it that way — so I can get up tomorrow and do it again.

8. Don't Worry About What Anybody Else Thinks

Remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe runs like a maniac through Central Park and it embarrasses Rachel so much that she doesn't want to run with her anymore? Take my advice: Get your cardio on like a Phoebe.

"Actors have a term for being able to act realistically even when an audience is watching them: public solitude," says filmmaking-app developer George Spyros. "It means really committing to the belief that no one is watching you. And you know what? Most of the time at the gym it's the truth. In the best sense, nobody cares what you're doing; they're just struggling to get through their own workouts. So swing your arms over your head, clap your hands, air-drum on an invisible drum set to the beat of your favorite tracks in your headphones. Mouthing song lyrics also keeps you entertained and occupied as well as makes you concentrate on your breathing without thinking about the burn in your lungs or legs."

Do you have other ways to cheat on your cardio to make it more enjoyable? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Nancy

My motivation for getting fitter has been my grandchildren. I want to be active in their lives and enjoy them for as long as I possibly can. So I started out simply with the objective to move more. I advanced from my initial goal of two 20-minute walks in the first week of my "move more" campaign to 300 minutes of mostly vigorous exercise per week. What keeps me going is how good I feel now. Everything is easier and more fun. I alternate cardio and strength building workouts, which aren't so much fun. But my "trick," as you would call it, is to add activities that are enjoyable. I take two water hour-long aerobics classes per week at an outdoor aquatic center in my community. I look forward to exercising at night under the moon and palm trees (California). I took golf lessons and now enjoy 9-holes weekly with my husband for a good walk and companionship. Now I have the stamina to enjoy chasing my grandkids around the park, playing catch with them in the back yard, and keeping up with them for hours at the zoo.

Guest's picture
Luke

7 and 8 sort of contradict each other.