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5 ways to get your cardio fix without running

5 ways to get your cardio fix without running


Cardio - the daunting word that we all seem to dread. After years of forcing myself to run and countless knee injuries, I decided to take a much-needed break from this form of exercise. Don’t fret! The elusive runner’s high is achievable through other forms of sweat therapy. Scaling down on running allowed me to explore other forms of movement that I now love, and they left me feeling fit, happy, strong and actually excited to work out. To get your cardio fix without the lengthy kilometers, try these:

1) Circuit Training

An umbrella term that encompasses many new and old workout regimes including cross-fit, f45, tabata, boxfit, beach body workout - you name it. But basically circuit training gets your heart pumping, your muscles firing and your glands sweating in a short period of time. Circuits usually entail a high intensity interval training session, which has proven most effective for fat burning and to improve cardio capacity. With knee injuries, or any other injury, you can often modify the workouts to best suit your body.

After falling out of a workout regime while in Australia, I stumbled upon an F45 gym, and instantly fell in love with this form of “functional” circuit training. The beauty of circuit training is that you can find these workouts anywhere, and while they may vary depending which gym or style you try, the idea is generally similar. What to expect: short workouts, high intensity, dynamic range of movements, weight-bearing exercises combined with short bursts of cardio, and lots and lots of sweat. 

Forget the treadmill and hop into a circuit!

2) Boxing

Boxing workouts are amazing, seriously! There are gyms in every city, with a variety of approaches in terms of technique, teaching, and class styles.

While you may not believe me, boxing is for everyone. After years of yoga and running, I stumbled upon boxing last year when I signed myself up for four months of intensive training and a charity boxing match. Boxing helped heal a recurring shoulder injury by building strength around the joint, improved cardio capacity immensely, and left me feeling strong and confident as ever. It also improved my yoga practice, and my ability to stay focused and calm.

You don’t need to step into a ring to reap the benefits of all that boxing has to offer. Boxing for fitness has more than just physical benefits. Along with building physical strength and endurance it teaches self-control, focus, confidence, breathing, and inner strength. You’ll be sore after the first few classes, but with regular practice it quickly becomes addictive in the best way possible!

Go on, quit doubting yourself and give boxing a shot.

3) Swimming

The beauty of Sydney living is that we are surrounded by the most beautiful ocean views with some of the best beaches in the world. The ocean is there for us anytime we feel like taking a dip, and if the waves seem dauntingly big, there are ocean-side pools to jump into instead. 

If you’re tired of the same old workout routine, or are recovering from injury, swimming is an amazing form of movement that builds full-body strength in a therapeutic way. Doing laps in a pool or frolicking among the waves will increase your heart rate, get your body moving, your sweat glands working and your blood pumping. Twenty to thirty minutes of consistent swimming offers a great alternative to your regular workouts. 

It’s good to change things up, keep your body guessing and it will leave you feeling extra refreshed! 

4) Walking

The best way to explore a city is to go by foot. While we have great access to public transit in Sydney, walking is sometimes highly underrated. Even twenty minutes of walking in the morning is enough to get your metabolism pumping for the rest of the day. While you may not be sweating as you would in a workout or on a run, walking has many great physical and mental benefits. It forces us to slow down and take in our surroundings, and to focus on one step at a time. It increase heart-rate subtly, but more than enough to get blood pumping throughout the body and to the brain. After a walk you may notice you feel more calm and attentive, more alert and awake. Step out of your house and onto your nearest sidewalk, path, or park. It is a great way to explore and stay fit at the same time.

Do yourself a favour and go for a walk!

5) Vinyasa yoga

The term vinyasa means to link movement with breath. Generally vinyasa style classes are a bit faster pace, and as you link inhales and exhales with movement, you travel through a series of poses that help to build strength while improving flexibility. Physical strength is developed by moving through poses that teach you to bear your own body weight. This all-encompassing approach to health targets muscles throughout the entire body, helping to balance out any structural and muscular imbalances. After consistent practice you may notice an increase in lean muscle mass. You’ll get to play around with different standing poses, arm balances, backbends and inversions. The beauty of yoga is that for every pose there is always a modification, so it is a practice that can be accessible to anyone, any body type, and any injury you may be dealing with.

Lastly, the most amazing part about a regular yoga practice is the mental benefits. And while most of us are drawn to the mat to stay fit and flexible, you may start to notice a waterfall effect in your life. While you cultivate attention and presence in your practice, you may start to feel an overall sense of mental clarity and calm.

Get your heart pumping and clear your mind. Go get on your mat!

Nicola Anderson - Writer

Nicola is a down-to-earth yogi residing from Canada with a love for all things health related. Having done her yoga teacher training (Moksha Yoga International) and Holistic Nutrition degree (The Institute of Holistic Nutrition) a whole new world opened up for Nicola. As a yoga instructor she has been able to travel and teach at the same time. Her love for fitness encompasses many activities including yoga, running, boxing and circuit training. Nicola is in her element when she gets to be creative, whether it be through photography, playing guitar and singing, writing, or teaching a yoga class. Some of her favourite things include coastal road-trips, summers spent at her cottage in Canada, swimming in the ocean, camping in British Columbia, and anytime spent in nature.

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