Switch up cardio regimen to get fit

Hannah Marsh

Whether it’s true love or pure hatred, the word “cardio” can bring out some pretty intense feelings. Miles of monotonous running and hours on the elliptical tend to be the first thoughts that people envision when they think about cardio. However, cardio does not have to be something that gym-goers dread.

Nora Hudson, fitness program coordinator for Recreation Services at Iowa State, began her love of running in college and has not slowed down yet.

“As I’ve gotten older, cardio is more stress relieving than anything, and it feels like it keeps me young,” Hudson said.

Even as a marathon runner, Hudson recognizes the importance of mixing up her cardio options.

“Most people don’t put enough variety in their cardio,” she said.

Not putting enough variety into your workouts can cause your body to plateau, which means it no longer respond to your fitness routine. It can also create boredom, which can quickly turn you off of staying active altogether.  

Whether you are just getting started on a workout regimen or are a master of the elliptical, here are some ideas to keep your next sweat session fresh and fun from Kensie Noble, senior in kinesiology and president of the National Alliance of Health Club.

Stair Master: This machine can be a pain in the butt — literally. It simulates walking up a flight of stairs, which stimulates lots of strengthening and firming up in those pesky lower body muscle groups. “Because you are using some of the largest muscle groups on this machine, it can mean more calories burned in a shorter amount of time,” Noble said.

Spinning Bike: To get a new take on this old favorite, try adding some Tabata interval training. “Pedal with high intensity for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Continue this series for eight rounds, take a two-minute break and then repeat it again for a great workout,” Noble said.

Rowing Machine: Rowing can be a good way to add extra cardio to your workout. “Rowing adds endurance and resistance training in one workout, and it’s fun,” Noble said. “It’s low impact, great for joint health and it works upper body and lower body.” Add some of this exercise to warm-up for arm day, or to finish off a good workout with a great sweat.

Jump rope: “Jump roping tends to be one of the most overlooked forms of cardio,” Noble said. Fitness experts are in agreement. According to an article in Men’s Fitness, “the jump rope is the best all-around piece of exercise equipment you can own.” The benefits of jump roping are numerous — it’s inexpensive, portable, versatile, and it uses nearly every muscle, making it an awesome addition to your workout.

Swimming: According to LiveStrong.com, “Swimming takes longer to adapt to than any other sport.” However, Maggie Holub, Twin River’s YMCA board member and a consistent swimmer said, “It is so worth it. It’s easier on your joints, and it’s incredible for both strength and endurance.” Not sure how to get started? The Live Strong website suggests beginning with the freestyle stroke, swimming for as long as you can, and then resting for as long as you need. Try repeating this for a 20-minute workout a few times a week.

“Cardio can be as easy as picking up the pace a little more on your walk, or riding your bike around the neighborhood,” Hudson said. There are various levels of cardio options to choose from. No matter what you decide, Hudson, Noble and Holub are in agreement to mix it up and just stay active.