women

There’s more to cardio than tedious treadmills. Here’s how to get a heart pumping fitness fix with a side of fun

What lights your fitness fire? We’re willing to bet it isn’t long slogs on the treadmill or stationary bike. The good news is, there’s a whole host of ways to get your cardio fix that don’t involve spending a mind-numbing hour watching the clock.

If the thought of cardio leaves you cold, it’s time to sack off those boring machines for good! Check out our favorite ways to get a heart-pumping, endurance-building boost.

You want to feel good...

Try dancing

Anyone who’s hit the dance floor on a Saturday night knows throwing shapes can leave you gasping for breath. ‘Not only do dance routines raise your heart rate safely and keep it elevated, but it’s creative, fun and makes you smile,’ says Strictly Come Dancing’s Natalie Lowe. ‘Pl us, there are so many styles. The variety and fun factor make dance a great option.’ Fancy learning some ballroom? Try Natalie’s new Fitsteps class at Everyone Active centers (everyoneactive.com) later this year. Too shy? Dance like no one’s watching in your bedroom!

Try dancing

Try dancing

You want some company...

Try badminton

Training with a partner is a great way to stay motivated, so a social sport like badminton is ideal. Since you’re focused on the game (and winning, of course!), you won’t even realize how hard you’re pushing yourself. ‘The focus is on getting the shuttle over the net and winning points so it’s great if you have a short attention span as you won’t notice the time passing,’ says badminton coach Amanda Ellison. ‘It works your whole body as it involves running, lunging and jumping as well as hitting the shuttle. The distraction of having a racket in your hand and a shuttle to follow means you move naturally.’

Training with a partner is a great way to stay motivated, so a social sport like badminton is ideal.

Training with a partner is a great way to stay motivated, so a social sport like badminton is ideal.

You want a laugh...

Try hooping

Remember how you could go for hours spinning a hula hoop as a kid? It was just considered a bit of fun back then, but hooping is a really effective way to get your heart pumping. Switching from hooping around different parts of your mid-section as well as the arms and legs mixes it up and keeps boredom at bay, too. ‘Hooping was fun when we were children, and it’s still fun now!’ says hula hoop artist Anna Drury (annathehulagan.com). ‘Unlike other cardio workouts, hooping gets you fit while increasing coordination and strength. You can do it with friends in the park, while watching the TV or to your favorite music!’

Remember how you could go for hours spinning a hula hoop as a kid?

Remember how you could go for hours spinning a hula hoop as a kid?

You want fast results...

Try rebounding

Rebounding is the go-to workout for people suffering from joint problems thanks to its low-impact effect, but bouncing on the mini trampoline boosts cardio like you wouldn’t believe, too. Zoe McNulty leads GymBox’s Rave class, which involves letting loose to disco music on rebounders, and she says it’s the perfect way to get your heart pumping. ‘Rebounders create weightlessness at the top of the jump and twice the G-force at the bottom of the bounce,’ she explains. ‘NASA has done extensive tests that claim it’s 68 per cent more efficient than jogging! It strengthens the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, which increase your fitness and boost your immunity.’

Try rebounding

Try rebounding

You want to learn a skill...

Try Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Keeping your heart rate high is a must when working your cardiovascular system, so a sport that keeps you working, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is perfect. The grappling martial art is gaining popularity, and looking at the shape its competitors are in, it’s no wonder. ‘From beginning to end, you’re constantly moving,’ explains Pippa Granger, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor and competitor. ‘You’ll get a fantastic full-body workout while learning to defend yourself and having a lot of fun!’ It’s crucial to enjoy the exercise you do if you want to get the most out of it. ‘When I’m bored, I end up doing less work,’ says Pip pa. ‘With Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you’re always learning something new. Sometimes I find myself so busy concentrating on my technique that the lesson flies by. There’s always something to learn no matter how long you’ve been training, so you’ll never get bored.’

Keeping your heart rate high is a must when working your cardiovascular system, so a sport that keeps you working, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is perfect.

Keeping your heart rate high is a must when working your cardiovascular system, so a sport that keeps you working, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu, is perfect.

You want more excitement...

Try kickboxing

If it’s the monotony that puts you off doing cardio exercise, a little danger might be just what you need to spice things up. Kickboxing or Thai boxing will elevate the excitement factor as well as your heart rate as you learn to jab, hook, duck and roundhouse kick. ‘Thai boxing is great fun because each session is different,’ says world champion Thai boxer Iman Barlow. And plenty of variety is sure to make your regular cardio shift a lot more interesting. ‘Doing pad work is a whole-body workout, improving both cardio and strength at the same time,’ says Iman. ‘The more you push yourself, the better your results.’ As you improve you’ll have the option to spar with a partner, but it’s not compulsory. So if you’re worried about getting hurt, stick to the pad work.

Kickboxing or Thai boxing will elevate the excitement factor as well as your heart rate as you learn to jab, hook, duck and roundhouse kick.

Kickboxing or Thai boxing will elevate the excitement factor as well as your heart rate as you learn to jab, hook, duck and roundhouse kick.

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