People often say that they hate doing cardio. The thought of running or doing stairs makes many people balk and plop back down on the couch. So, how does someone who hates doing cardio workouts get this exercise in their life?

What is cardio?

To put it simply, cardio is any activity that increases your heart rate and makes your lungs work harder. Wikipedia also refers to cardio as aerobic exercise, saying that,

“Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. “Aerobic” is defined as “relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism.”

Basically, you need activities that require a constant supply of oxygen, like running or cycling.

Activities like sprinting or weightlifting are considered anaerobic exercises since you’re not requiring the same levels of oxygen during the exercise. Your body can function on what oxygen it has for a short period of exertion. For example, a swimmer who sprints a 50m freestyle may only breathe once throughout the race (anaerobic), but in an 800m freestyle, they may breathe every 3-5 strokes (aerobic).

Why we should do cardio.

Cardiovascular exercises have a myriad of health benefits. You strengthen your heart and lungs, you improve circulation throughout your body, and you sleep better, among other benefits. People who regularly do cardio are typically healthier and have more stable mental health.

This is all great, but if you hate the idea of cardio, you’re probably not wanting to do any cardio exercises.

The cardio guilt cycle.

When you see someone going for a run, you may believe you should run, too. When you eventually convince yourself to step outside, all you can think about is how uncomfortable everything is. You may feel like a fraud, your clothes feel weird, and you already want to turn back. You might even push yourself to keep running further than your body is capable of because you don’t want “them” to think you’re weak.

This all results in you feeling like crap before, during, and after your run. Especially when you can’t walk properly for the next three days afterward. This is why you might start searching for things like, “cardio for people who hate cardio.”

Since your mind associates running with bad emotions and pain, you are less likely to do it again, or at least very begrudgingly when you do go.

This is normal- and fixable!

By allowing yourself to recognize that you don’t enjoy running or other conventional cardio methods, you can find something that works for you. Cardio doesn’t have to be too hard, too difficult, or not fun. It’s just about making little shifts in your perspective.

Finding ways to do cardio if you hate doing it.

The best way to do more cardio is truly to start small. You don’t need to start training for a marathon today. If that doesn’t sound like fun for you, it shouldn’t even be one of your goals.

You can, however, find one room that needs vacuuming in your home and spend a few minutes cleaning it. If cleaning is the last thing that you want to do, then give yourself ten minutes to do a solid stretching routine.

Using WeStretch as cardio.

When the idea of a gym sends shivers down your spine, you have exercise options right at home. Setting some time aside for stretching will reset both your mind and body.

The beauty of using WeStretch as cardio is that there is an option for everyone. Since everybody is different, their levels of fitness and what they deem cardio will be different too. WeStretch will get you moving, regardless of which routine you choose.

While the fundamental stretching routine is a great place to start moving if you’re not used to exercising, there are 3 types of routines that are great cardio for people who hate cardio!

The Sport Warm-Up

A good warm-up for any sport is something that gets your body warmed up, your blood circulating and getting mentally prepared to play. These moderate-intensity routines- for every kind of activity from walking, to curling, even to working at home- are a great beginner step to cardio. Nothing is too difficult, plus every stretch is only done once, so it stays engaging the whole time! Use these as your workout for the day or as a great starting point.

The Aerobic Routines

With varying levels of difficulty, these routines will have you constantly moving and shifting positions. You’ll get your cardio AND your stretching in and you won’t hate it! 😉

The Strengthening Routines

Each stretch is only done once, so with a bit of music and constant movement, you’ll never be bored. These strengthening routines truly have a level for everyone, from beginners to high-level athletes.

Doing 10 minutes is a great start to getting active and increasing your aerobic activity levels. If you want to do 20 minutes in a day, you can always split your exercise into chunks. Once you’ve become comfortable with 20, try to aim for 30 minutes for better results!

Variety is the spice of life.

Apart from stretching, here are some different ways to get your cardio in, even if you hate doing cardio!


This is a simple way to get some fresh air, get moving, and explore the area around you! If you want to lean towards serious exercise, push yourself with a brisk walking speed, but even a normal pace is good.

If you’re not a fan of walking around in nature, you can always use this as a chance to go window shopping or to wander around new art galleries. Exercise and cardio don’t need to be something you despise but can be a welcome break to your day.


Take this as a sign to take an adult beginner dance class! It doesn’t matter if it’s tap, ballet, or even social swing dancing. All types of dance are a great form of cardio that you can have a ton of fun doing. Even if you’re more private, having a solid kitchen dance party is pretty great, too!


Indoor or outdoor, swimming is a solid form of cardio that is a low impact on your joints. The water relieves the pressure on your body, which allows you to exercise freely without feeling the impact of gravity. Swimming laps are the most straightforward way of water cardio, but you can also try imitating your favourite synchronized swimmers or compete in a rousing match of water polo!


If you love cleaning, you’ve probably already discovered how it keeps you moving. If you don’t love cleaning, just know that a solid spring, fall, or late-afternoon house detailing can replace going to the gym- two birds, one stone!

Teach yourself to juggle.

This unique form of cardio doubles as exercise and a fun party trick! You don’t need anything more to start than three equal-sized pairs of socks, rolled into balls. Check out this YouTube tutorial if you’re looking for a great place to get started!

Cardio doesn’t have to be something you hate. With a little bit of creativity, you can easily incorporate it into your daily life and embrace every moment of it.

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This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns.

Written by Kayla Willsey

Updated June 15, 2021