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By Sebrin Elms and Sasha Bronner
Traditional cardio is not for everyone. If you take a hard pass on stair sprints, 3-mile runs, or jumping rope, there are still many other (sneakier) ways to get your heart rate up.
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Here are five different cardio-heavy workouts that are still great for your mind and body (but won’t feel like one torturous loop on the outdoor track):
1. Go to a dance class.
Dancing is one of the sneakiest forms of cardio. Whether you want to try a cardio dance video on YouTube or sweat it out in person at a hip hop class with a friend, dancing for prolonged periods of time is extremely challenging. It’s also extremely fun. Working your brain to memorize steps or patterns is an added mental focus benefit.
Trends in the dance world are always emerging. Check out some new types of dance classes here.
2. Hit the pool.
Swimmers and water polo players have found the holy grail. Instead of injuring joints or muscles by running on the hard ground, they use the water as an amazing resistance tool. Don’t believe us? Swim laps for even five minutes straight, and see how out of breath you are. Many athletes use swim workouts for injury recovery, so google some swim interval routines and hit the pool. Many community pools offer free swim time or extremely cheap membership options. Bye, Equinox.
3. Try a cycling class.
Spin classes can be a hit or a miss. For us, the music makes a really big difference. But if you can get into a groove, the hour goes by in a flash. And your drenched clothes are proof you really worked your cardio that day. Soulcycle is pricey, but offers a more motivational aspect, if that’s what you’re into. Just be mindful to work your way up to multiple spin classes a week — the exercise can be hard on your back and knees if you don’t use proper form. Remember to stretch your hips and hamstrings before and after! (Side note: yoga can be a great compliment to spinning.)
4. Take a long walk.
Walking is a surprising way to still add some cardio into your day. Since you’re not covering as much ground (or speed) as running, try to walk for an extended period of time. Some people are trying new ways to get to work: take a long walk instead of public transportation or driving. Bring your coffee and start your day with a boost of sunshine and fresh air. Others take an hour-long walk after work and catch up with friends or family on the phone, or replace a lunch date with a friend with a long, meandering walk instead. If you walk every day, you’ll notice a difference in your weight and stamina in no time.
5. Lift some weights.
Despite what you may think you know about weights, strength training is actually considered one of the best forms of cardio if done correctly. Some specialists feel that weights are a more effective form of exercise than running even is. Splurge on a session with a trainer to get some tips and ideas, and then start to build your own workouts at the gym (or at home).
There are a ton of online classes, too, that include challenging cardio strength training intervals you can easily do at home with a few sets of light weights (purchase 3-pound, 5-pound, and 10-pound dumbbells online or at your local sporting goods store). Expert tip: some people believe that the kettlebell swing is the best full-body workout move ever created.