By Cavino Johnson Athletic Xtreme
I’m going to type one word. When you read it, what’s the first image that comes to mind?
If you are like most people, the mere mention of cardio makes you make the face of a person that just ate 3 lemons at the same time. I, personally, don’t know anyone that likes cardio, unless, of course, that’s all they do. When someone says cardio to me, I used to think about long grueling hours on a damn treadmill… walking and not getting anywhere. Look, if I’m going to walk/run anywhere for an hour, there’d better be somethig good at the end and a ride back.
Cardio, for me, has changed tremendously over the years, as I have tried my hardest to stray away from treadmills and ellipticals. You have seen video and articles of my idea of cardio, which, mostly consists of track sprints and stadium stairs training sessions. Quick, explosive, and brief. The idea is to brun away body fat and maintain that hard earned muscle mass. Trust me when I say, if your cardio is lengthy, say goodbye to muscle. This holds even more-so for those of us that compete in the fitness arena. We shed the pounds of bodyfat, yet, some have a tendancy to sacrifice lean mass by going overkill on cardio. Not me. Not anymore. I work too damn hard for this muscle.
But, don’t fret, swoldiers. I have compiled a list of my favorite activities that you can take advantage of this Spring, Summer and Fall that will keep you burning fat and having fun all at the same time. Some will say that they do no cardio and that nutrition is the key… They are right about the nutrition, but cardio IS a part of the magic. Since the weather’s warming up, take these “cardio” sessions outdoors, soak up some vital Vitamin D and watch those muscles grow!
1. OUTDOOR SPORTS
So many venues offer adult league sports. Soccer, Softball, Basketball, Flag Football, Volleyball, Street Hockey, Lacrosse and the list goes on. Some will burn more calories than others, though. For instance, in Softball, the pace is much slower than, say, that of which Flag Football would be. Soccer will burn more than Basketball… It’s a matter of the level of motion and activity. You do have to be careful, though. A risk of injury is always present in any sport or outdoor activity. If it’s not a league commitment you are looking for, grab some friends and go play!
2. OUTDOOR RECREATION
So, maybe you aren’t the athletic type, but you do enjoy the great outdoors. Me, personally, I enjoy fishing. It’s more my pace. I may not burn a whole lot of calories, but the benefit is that of relaxation. Stress can and will hinder fatloss because stress elevates cortisol. For me, that means all the bodyfat around my torso gets comfy. That’s not what I want. So, sitting at the water, line in, worm on the hook, soaking in some sunshine, a cool breeze and fresh air always does me a world of good.
Skiing or Kneeboarding
If you have access to a boat, take it out, get yourself a knee board or some skiis and go shred it up. You’d be surprised the workout you get from maintaining your balance. The core, arms, shoulders, chest, back and legs all get a different kind of workout. Not to mention, if you wipeout, well, there’s some swimming involved, unless you’re like me and your wipeout is comical and dramatic, you will put on an aerial show before ever actually landing in the water. Kayaking, Canoeing, swimming, just all water sports, in general, give a great break from the norm and burns a substantial number of calories. If you’re into synchronized swimming, send me a video… because that is intense.
If getting wet is an issue because you just got a perm, we can talk about hiking. There’s always a sense of adventure when you go into the woods. If you allow yourself to be engulfed by the wonders of nature, you’d be surprised by how far you will explore, which, of course, means you are burning calories, especially if it’s mountain hiking or in rougher terrain. Just be sure to pack your insect repellent and the how to survive a snake bite guide. I’m kidding. Or am I. Just be prepared.
Another great source of accidental cardio, is bike riding. No, I’m not talking about the Tour de France style cycling. I’m talking the leisure pedaling kind of cycling. Unless you have some strange horror story about something that has to do with bicycles from your childhood, a fun bike ride can give you some nostalgia of childhood. Seriously, if you put a tin can on your wheels or a playing card on the spokes, I won’t even be mad at ya.
Then, there’s always just going for a walk. The simplest. Walk the dog. Walk the kids. Walk with your significant other. Doesn’t matter. Just walk. Even if just around the neighborhood. I learn a lot about my neighborhood while going for walks than I do driving through it. Yes, I am that nosey neighbor guy.
Some very worthy honorable mentions would be to just go outside and play. If you have kids, that’s even more reason to. If you live in a big city, take to the sidewalks and just explore. I, recently, visited Chicago with my daughter and it just so happens that everywhere we wanted to go was at least a mile or more away. I think, on average, we walked a good 10 miles a day for 3 days. I got to Chicago weighing a stout 210 and got back to Georgia at a nice 201. I’m sure 98% of it was water weight, but still, I got my exercise and my time with my kid.
Regardless of where you call home, there are so many things you can do outdoors that will keep you mentally and physically in tune and on point. If you live near a beach, there’s nothing better than getting a good run in on the sand, playing some beach volleyball or football or tossing a frisbee. The opportunities to switch up your mundane cardio are all around you. Take full advantage.