There are three favors that you should do for your body every day: giving it good rest, good nutrition, and movement. While unfortunately there is no shortage of people who fail to do the first two when it comes to self-care, it is the last one that people have the hardest time with.
Accommodating exercise in your daily routine is easier said than done. Sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in a day in our busy modern life. In addition to that, we are evolved to resist working out. But the benefits of leading an active lifestyle are too vast and all-encompassing to turn a blind eye to. From improved mood, concentration, cognitive function, and sleep patterns, to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and musculoskeletal problems, the list of exercise benefits never ends.
What type of exercise should we do? According to many health experts, the best workout routines incorporate both strength training and cardio to achieve a decent state of fitness. Although there is some observational benefit overlap between the two, they each are focused on improving specific aspects of the overall health. Strength training like weight lifting increases your muscle tone and boosts your strength and bone density. Cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart and expands your lung capacity.
A lot of the benefits we mentioned earlier are gained through cardio workouts. But honestly, it is not an exciting prospect for many of us. From the time it takes and its repetitive nature to the exhaustion it can cause, there are more than a few reasons that make us not look forward to engaging in aerobic activities. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By making the activity more fun, we will put more effort into it. So, apart from stopping being lazy, here are some of the things we can do to make cardio workouts more enjoyable.
One of the best ways to motivate yourself to work out is starting the exercise feeling more energized. Pre-workouts are usually marketed for bodybuilding but they have proved to be very beneficial with intense cardiovascular exercises too. Studies have shown that pre-workout supplements improve aerobic performance as well as increase training volume and lean mass maintenance.
Pre-workouts also reduce your levels of perceived effort which naturally results in improved endurance. This translates to less arduous and overwhelming workout sessions. The caffeine prevalent in these supplements have mental boosting effects as well. It bolsters your concentration as much as it provides you with increased energy levels.
Pre-workouts are among the most well-documented supplements within the fitness industry. However, you still need to pay extra attention to which pre-workout you choose. The FDA categorizes pre-workouts as dietary supplements and as such, they are not regulated for safety or effectiveness before they hit the market. Do your due diligence to make sure the supplement you choose does not contain harmful stimulants, provided you decide to use one.
Set Up a System
Like other forms of exercise, doing cardio is not instantly gratifying as its effects and benefits take time to transpire. And in an impaired cost-benefit analysis, our brains interpret this lack of short-term results as evidence of its cost-intensiveness and therefore perceive it as something not worth doing.
To help combat this natural tendency, we can set up some sort of progression system to help us get into the positive feedback loop much easier. There are many ways you can do this. If your primary goal is weight loss, take before and after pictures in predetermined intervals to make the fruit of your hard work less gradual and more noticeable.
If you are after fitness and optimal health, you can keep a record of the intensity and duration of your workouts as you push yourself to perform more and better over time. Do a little search on Google and you will be inundated with apps and online tools that can help you set and achieve your goals in interesting ways such as gamification. The goal is to make your brain dump a little dopamine every time you achieve a milestone, making the activity more enjoyable as a result.
Combine It with Other Interesting Things
One of the positive aspects of cardio is that it is mostly a physical activity and does not engage your brain. This leaves room for other enjoyable activities that can be done concurrently alongside it. Listening to your favorite podcast, music, or audiobook can easily draw your attention away from the workout, making it less monotonous, repetitive, and boring.
Also, aerobic workouts don’t have to be done on treadmills and exercise bikes. Activities like dancing and swimming are as effective but much more interesting. They don’t have to be done indoors either. You can accomplish cardio through hiking, jogging, biking, and more. The changing scenery that comes with exercising outdoors elevates the experience tenfold. It adds an extra layer of relaxation and de-stressing that simply cannot be achieved indoors; not to mention the extra vitamin D you gain from sun exposure!