cardio

Does slogging it out in a spin class fill you with fear? Or maybe you just don’t feel like getting sweaty today? Personal trainer Sarah O’Neill shares the best workouts for the cardio-averse.

For everyone aged from 19 to 64, the NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic (think cycling or brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic (running or playing sport) activity, plus two sessions of strength exercises every week. This means it’s important to get your heart pumping and your muscles moving as often as you can, however it needn’t mean spending hours on the treadmill if you don’t want to.

If running/cycling/rowing (insert cardio nemesis of your choice) isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to challenge your body; you just need to find out what works for you, on any given day. Personal trainer Sarah O’Neill shares her ideas for working out if an intense cardio session isn’t for you…

1. If you don’t like running…

Power walk! Brisk walking may burn fewer calories than running but a recent study showed that it can reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol to a similar extent. If weight loss is your goal, then add hills. Hiking and hill walking increase calorie burn while remaining low-impact, saving those joints from pavement-pounding. Focus on pumping your arms to get more from the workout.

2. If you want to get stronger (not sweaty)…

Resistance training still burns plenty of calories per session and it also has a greater ‘after-burn’, which means your metabolism stays higher for longer. And this isn’t exclusive to lifting weights. Most gyms offer PT-led TRX suspension-training classes, which involve toning up using TRX straps and your body weight. Alternatively, you could invest in your own straps and take them to your local park. Or for something different, try Virgin Active’s UGI class, which involves using a weighted ball for resistance training and stretching.

3. If you don’t have time to shower…

Barre conditioning is on the rise and doesn’t necessarily mean getting hot and sweaty. This ballet-inspired class has an emphasis on sculpting and toning using a barre (a horizontal bar as support for specific exercises). Mat Pilates is also a low-sweat but highly effective workout, using your body weight to focus on your core strength. They’re both ideal if you want something you can squeeze into a lunch break.

4. If you want a workout that also makes you feel relaxed…

Why not try yoga, tai chi or qigong? If you’re overwhelmed by the number of yoga classes on offer, look to hatha yoga for the ultimate unwind. The Universities of British Columbia and Toronto also recommend martial art-inspired workouts such as tai chi or qigong for older patients or those with disabling conditions. The gentle flowing movements are impact-free and thought to reduce stress, improve posture, balance and mobility.

5. If you just want to target your abs…

Ideally, you should be working your abs at least three times a week to keep your core strong. Make sure you hit them from all angles by including my top 10 moves or Vitality’s quick core workout. Slacklining (a low tight rope) is the newest celebrity craze – the immense effort to balance is killer for the core. But if you want to tone at home, grab yourself a hula-hoop. The repetitive thrusting action to keep the hoop aloft is great for cinching the waistline.

6. If you have an injury…

Hit the pool. With 12 times the resistance of air, a water workout doesn’t need to be easy, but the buoyancy and support of the water means you can work at your own level. Swimming with hand paddles can help refine your stroke and assist rehabilitation of shoulder injuries. Or try FloatFit – a great new trend that involves a 30-minute HIIT workout on your own floating mat on the pool. It’s incredible for the core and the effort of concentration to stay on your mat will make those minutes fly.

Got the exercise sorted but looking for more ways to relax? Check out our guide: how to meditate in just 2 minutes.


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