I know what you’re thinking — the words “cozy” and “cardio” are opposites, and there’s no way the two can be combined in a sleek way to get your daily workout in.
That’s what I thought when I first heard about the new trend. Cardio is uncomfortable! It’s sweaty, breathless, exciting, exhausting, and about as far from “comfortable” as you can get. How about an adjective I use to describe lounging in my pajamas and re-watching The office apply to the heart-pumping activities I do to stay fit?
Curious, I researched convenient cardio and decided to give it a try. Remember that what’s right for me may not be right for you — as with all things exercise, be sure to check with a medical professional before starting any new fitness regimen.
@hope_zuckerbrow ♬ Blue Moon – Muspace Lofi
What is convenient cardio?
First introduced in a now-viral TikTok, content creator Hope Zuckerbrow coined the term “cozy cardio” to describe her morning workout routine: she wakes up before sunrise, makes an iced protein coffee, lights a few scented candles in the dark room, finds a television show or movie he’d like to watch, then gets on a treadmill for 40 minutes. At the end of his session, he walked 2.65 kilometers and burned about 170 calories (I will point out here that the calorie counts on most pieces of cardio equipment are inaccurate, but the number of calories you burn is not really the focus — more below).
In a follow TikTok, Zuckerbrow further explains the leisurely pace of cardio. “I want casual cardio to be a movement for women to reclaim their relationships with exercise,” she said. “Cozy cardio was started to help heal my own relationship through exercise but it quickly became a form of meditational self-love. It’s meant to take the pressure off. It’s meant to help you enjoy movement again .It’s meant to teach you that you’re worth the time. Your body deserves it, but your mind is even more so.
He added that while he enjoys walking on his treadmill, he has also been known to work out for 30 minutes on his living room floor. “Cozy looks different for everyone, but my version is like ambiance lighting, the flickering of a candle, the taste of my favorite protein coffee, or the comfort of the show I’m binging on. I just apply that to my exercise.”
Here’s what happened when I tried convenient cardio
There’s nothing about my regular cardio routine that would ever be considered “comfortable,” so I knew my foray into this trend would be a departure from the norm.
Since I don’t have a treadmill, I decided to ride my spin bike. Luckily for me, the timing of this challenge worked out well — the lights on my Christmas tree provided a nice ambiance that fit the “cozy” bill perfectly. I lit some candles, found a documentary on Max that I had been waiting to watch, and started pedaling. Here are a few things I’ve noticed about my leisurely cardio sessions:
It reminds me a lot of SoulCycle
Before the pandemic, I was known to frequent a few SoulCycle classes from time to time. The main thing that always attracts me to the studio — the unique ambiance — is reproduced in my comfortable cardio experience.
Loud music, louder instructors, and the frenetic energy of bodies pedaling to the beat are gone, but you can always turn up the volume on your favorite playlist and bring back at least one of those aspects.
I forgot I was exercising
By the time I was about 15 minutes into my 45 minute leisurely cardio session, I kind of forgot I was working out. My breathing was steady and controlled, my heart rate increased slightly but not distractingly, and my attention was focused on the show I was watching.
For someone with a severe aversion to exercise, convenient cardio can be a real game changer. All those “comfortable” elements really do wonders to distract you from the fact that you’re currently doing cardiovascular exercise.
Time passed quickly
When my Apple Watch beeped indicating that my 45 minutes of leisurely cardio was over, I was honestly shocked. If you asked me at this moment, I would estimate that 15 or 20 minutes had passed.
Again, this can be pretty groundbreaking for cardio haters. Instead of counting every second in agony, minutes fly by as you enjoy your surroundings.
I realized that I have been recommending it (unknowingly) to clients for years
As a personal trainer, I find that many of my clients struggle to exercise on their own. Whether it’s a lack of time or motivation, setting aside 30 minutes for a walk, bike ride, or some resistance training circuit can be a pretty daunting prospect.
A “trick” I often pass on is to save your favorite TV show, podcast episode, or new album release for your workout session. Not only does this motivate you to exercise, but you associate movement with doing something you love. That seems to be the same kind of thinking behind convenient cardio — pairing movement with a pleasurable sensory experience.
Jury decision? I can definitely see both the physical and mental benefits of leisurely cardio. As creator Hope Zuckerbrow described it, the whole experience felt very meditative and self-soothing, which is not how most people would describe exercise.
Ultimately, though, my personality suits more traditional cardio fare —the sweaty intensity of treadmill runs and elliptical sessions keep my mood balanced. For those who feel otherwise, cozying up to your cardio is a revolutionary way to make it a lifelong habit.
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