Cardio for Someone Who Hates Cardio

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Is it possible to do cardio (for someone who hates cardio)? Most people who hate cardio actually dislike the feeling of being tired while performing repetitive tasks. They’re thinking about the treadmill, spin class, and other “boring” cardio workouts, so the hate is understandable. Not all people have the desire to spend the time doing something hard and not rewarding at all.

However, you don’t have to sweat on a treadmill to get all the benefits from cardio workouts. You can try something interesting and creative while still putting in the effort for exercise. Naturally, you need the initial motivation to exercise. Then you need to make a fitness plan and stick with it. Sounds tough and it is at first, but there’s a very big chance you’ll learn to like your cardio routines after a couple of months.

Before we get in-depth about this topic, let’s just say a few things:

  • Even avid runners have a love-hate relationship with running. Although it’s very rewarding, running can be very demanding and challenging. You just need to ease into it and not expect instant results.
  • You can’t expect to fall in love with cardio exercises in an instant. Give yourself at least 2 months before you call it quits.
  • Finding the right cardio workout takes time. You might not like sprint workouts or jumping rope, but you might enjoy Tabata exercise. Try everything on the list more than once, then decide what works for you.

Useful tips

Learning to love cardio ain’t easy but it can become doable if you try some of these tips.

Infographic Cardio for Someone Who Hates Cardio

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Find the reason to exercise

We all need a bit of cardio in our lives for general health reasons. However, it’s also important to find your personal reason to exercise. Some people want to get in shape and feel comfortable in their bodies while others exercise for weight loss. If you find a strong enough reason, and even better, set a fitness goal, you’re more likely to stick with your exercise plans.

Start small

Wanting too much too fast can only lead to body burnout. You’ll hate working out even more because your whole body will be in pain. That’s why you need to start small and slowly ease into cardio routines. Increase the difficulty gradually. You can start with 10-minute workouts (depending on the intensity) and add 10 more minutes each week. Trust us, even 8 minutes cardio workout can do wonders for your health.

Choose your workout intensity

You know how much you can handle, so don’t push yourself to do more than you can. You’re working too hard if you can’t speak or even breathe properly during workout. Slow down and adjust your tempo according to your fitness level. For example, if you’re watching a workout video, you don’t have to do as many repetitions as the person in the video. Set small achievable goals and stick with them. After the workout becomes “too easy”, slowly increase the intensity.

Learn how to breathe

The key to a successful cardio workout is the proper breathing technique. That’s right! Even if you’re not doing yoga, you need to be focused on your inhales and exhales. Try to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.

Try to love (tolerate) the burn

Metabolic pain happens when you’re working really hard. This is a sign you’ve reached your limit. You’ve done a solid workout and your muscles are changing. Although the pain isn’t a pleasant thing and you can’t actually love it, try to at least tolerate it, so you don’t give up. Your body will adapt and you’ll build up your endurance if you stick long enough with your fitness routine.

Think about the benefits

Even when things get very tough, keep motivating yourself to continue by remembering all the benefits for your body. Cardio exercise will improve your general health. It will help with lowering blood pressure, strengthen bone density, improving blood sugar, lower the risk of cancer, respiratory diseases, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.


RunningWe know what you’re thinking, how can you even start running if you hate it. However, it’s entirely possible to start! We shared tips and advice on running in this article. You’ll find amazing ways to start running, from using Couch to 5k app to planning jogs in nature.

Reason number one why people hate running is shortness of breath and the repetitiveness of the treadmill. Who likes running while looking at the wall? Forget about the torture device called a treadmill and get outside! If you learn how to breathe and jog at a slow steady pace, you might actually start liking it. You can explore your neighborhood, run in parks, by the river, anywhere you want! Choose engaging music or an interesting podcast and you’ll have one fun cardio workout ready at any time.

There are also lots of ways to start running if you’re out of shape. The key is, as we said, taking small steps and choosing your own pace. You’re in control of every situation, so just keep moving.

Sprint training

Sprint trainingIf you’re not up for a steady pace running, try doing sprint intervals. Sprinting is a more efficient workout, so in 10 minutes you can achieve the benefits of 30-40 minute jogs. Check out this very short video to see the basic sprint technique.

You can have as many sprint intervals as you want. We recommend doing less than five 30-second sprints in your first couple of weeks. Don’t forget to warm up before the intervals, recover for at least a minute between each interval, and set aside time for stretching after you finished the workout.

HIIT workouts

HIIT workoutsIf running really isn’t your thing, check out high-intensity interval training. It’s the best cardio without running! The goal of HIIT workouts is to give your maximum in short intervals instead of having a long workout with medium intensity.

HIIT is very similar to sprint training. You’ll be doing small 20-40 seconds workout intervals, then rest for 10-20 seconds. Intervals tend to burn a lot more but it’s manageable because you’ll do it “for just 30 seconds”.

The entire workout can last from 10 to 45 minutes depending on your fitness level. We suggest you start with 15-minute workouts you can find online. Completing one HIIT might require more effort but we’re sure you can do it! You need to push yourself and give your maximum. It’s just 15 minutes and then you’re done for the day. Seems doable?

Our favorite high-intensity workout is Tabata. This training involves 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest. You do this for a certain number of rounds with bigger rest periods (usually 60 seconds) after finishing one group of exercises. It’s actually pretty simple as you can see in the video below.

There are also 5-minute Tabata workouts if you’re feeling overwhelmed with 15-minute high-intensity workouts. People use the combination of burpees, jumping jacks, planks, and other kinds of exercises to engage the entire body in just 5 minutes, so don’t hesitate to check out what the fuss is all about.

Low-intensity cardio

Low-intensity cardioThe good thing about cardio is that there are a lot of forms of cardio exercise. High intensity, low intensity, fast, slow, interesting, engaging, repetitive – anything at all. People are finding more ways to work out every day! In the sea of fitness, you’ll definitely find alternative cardio workouts that suit you.

Low-intensity cardio workouts will keep you in your comfort zone. These consistent and steady workouts will stress your joints and ligaments way less than HIIT but they are still very effective. Low-intensity workouts should last 20–60 minutes and you can do them every day if you want.

You don’t need to have an intense workout to improve your health. Keep training by using 50% of your strength for a longer period. You should maintain 40-70% of your maximum heart rate throughout the session. If you can hold a conversation while exercising, this means you’re doing low-intensity cardio.

You can try all sorts of low-intensity cardio workouts. In a gym you try fast walking on a treadmill or using a stair-stepper machine. If you’re going outdoors, you’ll have a lot more options such as walking, hiking, swimming, cycling, etc. Do what feels comfortable and don’t push yourself over the limits.


SwimmingSwimming is not just the best cardio workout but it’s also a full-body exercise. With 30 minutes of swimming you’ll engage all the muscles in your body and burn more calories than with regular cardio. Additionally you won’t put the pressure on your bones and joints like you do when running or doing HIIT.


CyclingWhen we say cycling, we don’t mean spin classes. Although a lot of people seem to enjoy spin classes, that just isn’t our thing. We prefer amazing cardio workouts for outdoorsy people! Why be stuck in a gym pedaling endlessly without a purpose, when you can ride a bike by the river with wind in your hair.

Cycling will get your heart rate up with ease. It’s not stressful for the joints and you won’t look at the clock every two minutes (unless you’re going uphill). If you also find a partner, you’ll have so much fun riding bikes together that you won’t even notice you’re exercising.

Dance workouts

Dance workouts

Dancing is a whole-body workout that’s good for your heart and your strength, coordination, and balance. Dance classes will help you break a sweat and have lots of fun! You’ll be focused on the footwork and turns, so you won’t even notice how many repetitions are there. Choose fast-moving dance classes like hip hop or salsa for more intense workouts. Note that you can also put on a killer dance workout video and start jumping in your room but we strongly encourage you to check out your local dance studio.

Jumping rope

Jumping rope (Skipping)Jumping rope isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s very hard on the joints and it’s not recommended for beginners. However, once you build up your stamina and endurance you can try skipping for 20 seconds then slowly increase the time. It’s so much fun once you get into it! You can do double skips, reverse skipping, and all sorts of rope magic. This cardio blast will engage you from head to toe.


Stairs_hillsYou won’t believe how intense (and fun) workout can be when you’re just going up the stairs/hills. Pick a building (it doesn’t have to be your building) and just run to the 10th floor. Or find a challenging hill and concur it as fast as you can. You can repeat this a couple of times or just do it once. As long as your heart rate is up, your workout is successful. Warm-up is, of course, necessary for preventing injuries.


SquatsYes, even standard bodyweight moves can get your heart rate up. This means bodyweight squats can be a nice touch to your cardio routine. If you choose jump squats (without the weights), you’ll get an even better cardio workout. Do 20 jump squats without stopping, rest, and then try again. You can try this exercise in the morning before school/work. Repeat it as many times as you can and you’ll have your cardio for the day.


We (hopefully) proved that cardio for someone who hates cardio exists. However, will these exercises fit you and your needs, we can’t know for sure. We do know that you should try them out at least a month or two before deciding you still hate cardio. Just remember that you started working out because you wanted to take care of yourself, so don’t give up.





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