Written By: Leha Long, FitnessX Magazine Cover Model

Photo By: BillyBow Photography

Love it or not, cardio is a must! As much as I love to exercise cardio is not one of my favorites. I would rather lift weights than to do cardio on any given day, but I know the health benefits of that it brings, so I try to find fun ways to integrate cardio into my workouts. Research shows that cardiovascular activities helps to prevent heart disease. That’s not the only benefit though — cardio helps you to loose weight, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it boosts energy levels. Whether if you are a fan of cardio or not it’s important to stay active, but there are ways you can do this and beat the boredom.

Now that the weather is warming up I really enjoy running and doing plyometrics outside. I tend to get bored using machines, so I do something different everyday to be creative. Recently, I’ve been taking my cardiovascular activities outside at a local park. Running and doing plyometrics at the park with a friend has made it even more fun for me. It’s like we have our own little boot camp! We enjoy running, skipping, side skips, jump squats, and jump lunges. When we come up to a bench at the park we do step ups, and running up and down stairs is definitely a good way to burn fat. Doing cardio with a friend breaks up the time also. It’s a great way to catch up plus you are pushing each other. It’s easier to stop doing something when you are doing it alone, but when you have a cardio partner you hold each other accountable. Another fun outdoor activity is riding a bicycle. This is a great way to spend time by yourself, with friends, and/or your family while exercising.

Taking classes at your gym or boot camps is a great way to get your heart pumping! Try out a spinning class or a kickboxing class. Remember to switch out your cardio just like you would your weight training sessions to keep your body guessing and tl keep from hitting a plateau. Check around your area for boot camps. These are fun and most of the time they are free to join. When I have to do at least an hour of cardio,w3 I will usually take a hour long class to push me. Grab a partner and take a dance class! There are many types of dance classes you can take. Check around your local gyms and studios for Zumba, hip hop, and salsa classes to name a few.

If you are not able to get outside, or if you prefer using machines a great way to keep your body guessing and to prevent you from getting bored is to use a variety of machines during your cardio session. For example, if you need to do 45 minutes of cardio do the stair mill for 15 minutes, the elliptical for 15 minutes, and finish up your last 15 minutes on the stationary bicycle. Something you can do to help you pass the time is to play your favorite music, or read a fitness magazine for motivation.

Whatever you choose to do for your cardiovascular activities remember to make it fun. Choose something different each day, and get your friends and family involved. You will definitely feel better, look better, and look forward to it each day.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Leha Long is from Atlanta, GA. This February 2012 FitnessX Magazine Cover Model is a published fitness model, national-level NPC Bikini competitor, writer, trainer, nutritionist and actress. Please check out her website at www.lehahealthandfitness.wordpress.com for more information.