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Cardio divides us – you either love it or you hate it. Unfortunately, even if you hate it, it’s a necessary evil. You can do as many sit-ups as you like, but if you’re not burning off any fat, then you’ll never get those washboard abs you’re after! If cardio has one saving grace, it’s the endorphin boost. A jog out in the open or a sweaty circuit session can really boost your mood. So cardio-phobes, this article is for you.
Make it Competitive
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For many of us, making something a game is a great way to take our minds off the pain. Whether it’s celebrities like Kenny Jackett getting in shape with football matches, or just a kick about at the park with some friends, when you’re focusing on playing as a team – or even just beating your tennis partner – the aching muscles often fade into the background. Another great benefit to joining a sports team is accountability. It can be tricky to motivate yourself to spending an hour on the treadmill after a day at work, but if you’ve got six of your team mates counting on you to make it to a football match, then you’re much more likely to get that valuable exercise in.
In terms of which sport to choose, its entirely up to you! Basketball has been proven to lower body fat, whilst football teams are very easy to come across wherever you live. If you feel you work better solo, then choose a sport like tennis or squash, just finding yourself a partner to play against will have the same effect when it comes to motivation. The benefit of just having two of you is that it’s also far easier to organise!
Take it Outside
The king of cardio is, of course, running. It’s difficult, it’s sweaty, and therefore a lot of us hate it. One way to make the whole ordeal far more enjoyable is to make like Lee Jones and take your run outside. Not only does running outside get you out of the gym, but it is also a real mood booster. We all know that exercise releases endorphin, but so does being out in nature, so you get double the endorphin boost! If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere near a park, then there are often paved paths which make the perfect running track. Try to fit in your morning run before work, so that you’re not left with a whole day to think of excuses not to go. Starting the day outside with half an hour or so to yourself will soon become something that you look forward to, rather than the half an hour on the treadmill that so many of us dread.
Set Targets for Yourself
If the idea of a sports team leaves you cold and the idea of rolling out of bed and running out into the great outdoors fills you with dread, then fear not – you may still be able to fall in love with cardio from the comfort of the gym. Setting targets can be a great way for the competitively minded to get into the best shape yet. If you can usually be found on the cross trainer, then switch it up and use a cardio bike to work up a sweat. Perhaps you usually run 9-minute miles for half an hour, try to run for thirty-five minutes instead, or make your final mile a sprint finish and aim to hit the 8-minute mile mark.
Try to stay away from setting yourself weight loss targets. Whilst it’s very satisfying to see the pounds falling off, once you’re at a healthy weight, your goals should become fitness-related rather than weight-related. If you’re not so fit, try a couch to 5k programme, which sets manageable goals for you over a full training programme. Book in a 5k race for the week that the programme finishes so that you’ve got a goal to aim towards. Having tangible targets makes the whole cardio ordeal a lot more enjoyable, watching yourself make progress is a really satisfying way to remind yourself that you’re achieving your goals.