Ah, running. Since the beginning of time, running has been a staple in the lives of almost all land-based creatures. From stampeding buffaloes to frenzied ants, there is no substitute for running as a mode of fast-paced travel. That is, until man learnt to ride horses and invented vehicles such as the chariot. Presently, we have so many accessible modes of transportation such as cars and trains that the activity of running has all but ceased to be our go-to mode of travel, and taken a back seat as a form of exercise for most.
Photo: Steven Lelham
Yet, most people still dread running, despite the benefits it offers. On the other hand, many people want to burn off calories, but without doing anything remotely similar to covering long distances on foot. As beneficial as running is for the average human being, we at Healthloco know that perhaps running isn’t for everyone.
Fret not, you who have yet to find the motivation to put on those running shoes, you’ve come to the right place! What if I told you that you could reap the same cardio benefits which running offers, but from some simple activities that you can do without running long distances (and without any specialized equipment) while you search for the impetus to begin running? That’s right, here’s how!
Photo: Ayo Ogunseinde
Short for High-Intensity Interval Training, it involves simple exercises such as mountain climbers or lunges. The period of time you spend resting after each exercise shouldn’t be more than four times the time you spend on each exercise. For example, if you spend a minute on doing lunges, you should rest for at most 4 minutes. This ensures that your body doesn’t have time to cool down, and it pushes your heart to work faster to get oxygen to the rest of your body, thus fulfilling the cardio portion of your workout. If you don’t have much time, you can choose to do shorter sessions consisting of a few rounds (maybe 8) but with intense exercises such as burpees or woodcutters. For optimal results, try a 2:1 work-rest ratio, where you spend a minute doing your exercise, then rest for 30 seconds. Take care to exercise within your limits and don’t be overambitious!
HealthLoco Tips: For a short, intense yet more rewarding experience, try the Tabata HIIT, a training regimen discovered by Dr. Izumi Tabata – 20 sec work and 10 sec rest for eight rounds, which although only totals four minutes, but you have to push yourself hard and do as much as you can for each 20 sec workout. There’s no restriction on what or how much you should do, only how much you can and want to do.
Plyometrics are leg exercises done in a quick and explosive fashion such as tuck jumps or step ups. Controlling your breathing while doing these exercises is key, just as in a run. The explosive nature of these exercises causes the heart rate to increase exponentially, and thus helps in cardiovascular training, with an added bonus of increased strength and speed in your movements, making it ideal for athletes. If you feel up to it, using a box of knee height or higher, squat and then jump up onto the box. Make sure you don’t jump off it afterward, but step off instead.
Photo: Everton Vila
If the long distance isn’t what puts you off of running, you may want to try your hand(or legs) at cycling! What with the advent of mobile bike vendors such as ofo and mobike, cycling has become quite an accessible activity for everyone. So grab a partner, grab a bike, and be on your way!
That’s right! Time to put on some music, and shake that booty! You don’t have to learn to dance professionally. All you have to do is move your body to the beat! Now isn’t this easy?
Photo: Becca Tapert
While we’re at it, why not mention the world’s most favorite cardio training of all time? Just like running, sex, as many would agree, is hard work, albeit being pretty damn enjoyable. I mean, who wouldn’t want to burn calories and become healthier while having fun at the same time? Just remember to keep it safe, folks!
What makes these activities a good alternative to running? The activities mentioned above and running are both similar in that it all involves getting your heart to beat at a faster rate, and helps you keep fit. And although doing the aforementioned workouts usually take a shorter time than you would to complete a running circuit, they make up for it with their intensity, while building up other parts of your body.
As with running, movement is key when you’re doing cardio related exercise. Also, notice that I used the term alternative and not replacement? That’s because there is no replacement for a good old run! Running helps you burn more calories and increases your cardiovascular fitness more than other exercises, while building up your long distance stamina and endurance, and also training the strength of your legs. So if you decide to go for a run instead, here’s how you can improve your running experience, and perhaps make you want to run more!