Here’s How You Can Get Your Weekly Cardio Fix — With Zero Running
Hate running? Good news: you can still get all the heart-healthy, fat-burning benefits of cardio without ever having to commit to a run (or swim or cycle)!
Cardio is like grapefruit — you either love it or you hate it. And if you’re trying to live your best healthy life, you may swallow a regular dose just because it’s good for you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What Is Cardio, Really?
Many women associate cardio with things like running, swimming, cycling, brisk walking — or what experts typically label “aerobic exercise”. But that’s a limiting definition. Cardio — aka cardiovascular exercise — is any activity that strengthens your heart and improves the function of your cardiovascular system.
Major muscle groups need to contract repeatedly, enough to elevate the heart rate to a target level (some experts give a general ballpark of at least 50 percent of your max). Hear that? Any activity. That includes both aerobic and anaerobic workouts — aerobic being a light to moderate sustained effort (typically about 65 to 80 percent of your max heart rate) that needs oxygen to help fuel your muscles, and anaerobic being a typically shorter but tougher effort (think heavy lifting or sprints). That means that, yes, a 30-minute run counts, but so does a kettlebell circuit.
Do You Have To Do Cardio?
Cardio improves heart health (lowering resting heart rate, increasing work output), cholesterol levels and your body’s ability to metabolise sugars, which is why you need it even if weight loss isn’t one of your goals. Plus, it gives you a mood-boosting endorphin rush.
In fact, slimming down is considered a bonus, not a requisite. “For example, walking is cardiovascular exercise, yet for many people of above-average fitness, it’s not intense enough to increase endurance or weight loss,” says biokineticist Prof Todd Astorino. “That doesn’t mean that regular walking can’t enhance your fitness and health.” Regardless of your goals, many experts recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous activity for good cardiovascular health.
Your 20-Minute, No-Running Cardio Plan
Pick one: Rowing machine, step machine, ski machine, elliptical, skipping rope (stationary bike or treadmill if you want). Make sure you have a clearly visible watch or timer. Now, follow this plan:
00:00-05:00 Warm up, moving at a slow pace.
05:00-06:00 Go all out, pushing yourself as hard and fast as possible.
06:00-07:15 Active recovery: catch your breath.
07:15-18:30 Repeat minutes 5:00 to 7:15 five times.
18:30-20:00 Cool down.
That’s it — you’re done!