Let's be honest, nobody enjoys doing cardio — they tolerate it. That dreadful, loathsome feeling you experience when you're doing cardio workouts isn't unique to you, it's almost universal. Sure, it gets easier the more you do it, but there are some ways to make it better now.
The thing is, you already own a powerful tool that can help make cardio so much more bearable: your smartphone. Instead of leaving it in your pocket or simply listening to music, here are five things you can do with it to turn cardio from something you dread to something you easily get through.
You're probably thinking "Watch a movie or TV show? That's so obvious." Sure, watching Netflix is common in most gyms, but I've noticed a lot of people struggling with laggy streams. Weak signal strength and data deprioritization are common problems that can ruin the experience.
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ all support offline viewing now. So this tip is less about watching movies or shows and more about downloading them before you hit the gym. Come to your next cardio workout prepared with help from any of the guides linked below:
This next suggestion is a bit unorthodox. One of the more immersive experiences you can engage in is playing a game. Just like any medium, the better the quality, the deeper the immersion, allowing you to forget the pain and tiredness you are experiencing while performing cardio.
This won't work with all forms of cardio, but if you happen to utilize LISS (Low-Intensity Sustained State) Cardio, you should be able to engage in a game without worrying about dropping your phone.
It has never been a better time to game on your phone. iPhone users can access over 100 games with an Apple Arcade subscription (currently $4.99 a month). Android users can try Google Play Pass, which offers hundreds of apps and games for the same monthly price. But if you really want to make cardio easier, you'll want to take advantage of console games.
Google Stadia (which is currently limited to Pixel phones) lets you play console games on your phone using either an Xbox One, PS4, or Stadia controller. Microsoft is currently testing its Project xCloud service, which will allow you to play Xbox One games on your phone using an Xbox One or PS4 controller. On Android, Steam even lets you play games in your PC library.
I imagine you're having a hard time figuring out how this can be done while walking on a treadmill. Well, thanks to phone clips such as WEPIGEEK Foldable Controller Mobile Phone Holder for Xbox One ($8.99 on Amazon) and OIVO Phone Clip Holder for PS4 ($12.99 on Amazon), you can mount your phone to the controller for an easy to view setup that's also safe from the constant movement of cardio.
With cardio sessions usually lasting 20 minutes or more, another option is to use the time to be productive. No matter what age we are, everyone can benefit from a good book. While reading might not be realistic, audiobooks are so prevalent nowadays that you won't need to.
The Scribd app gives you an unlimited amount of books, magazines, and audiobooks for $9.99 month. If you're a fan of Audible, one of the best audiobooks app available, you can sign up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Not only does it include a subscription to Audible with unlimited audiobooks per month, but it also includes unlimited ebooks and current magazines. It is available for the same price as Scribd, $9.99 a month.
Another way to get more out of your run is by listening to a podcast. With more than 700,000 active podcasts currently available covering a broad range of topics, I can all but guarantee you'll find one you like. Podcasts can be a great way to learn more about a topic, making it easy to forget what you're doing — even when what you're doing is cardio.
You can find podcasts on iTunes, Google Play Music, and Spotify. However, if you are looking for an app that specialized in all things podcasts, look no further than Pocket Casts.
Pocket Casts recently changed their subscription, opting to make many of their premium features available for free. Without paying a dime, you can use powerful filters to find exactly what you want, sync your history, trim silence, and much more. Use it the next time you head to a cardio session and you might want to do an extra 20 minutes to hear more.
In my experience, one of the most underrated ways to get through cardio is to talk to someone. I find a conversation does a better job of helping me get through cardio than any of the previous suggestions. In the times when I don't have anyone physically around me to talk to, I find making a phone call to suffice.
I will stress that this method is heavily dependent on a few factors, one of which is being that conversation with that person is interesting. Another factor is you have strong enough connection so that you aren't asking them (or they asking you) to repeat yourself confidently. They also need to have the time to talk, and you will need a good pair of noise-canceling headphones to maximize their ability to hear you.
But when all these factors line up, I found this method had me doing an extra 30 minutes of cardio to continue the conversation. Even better, you can video chat instead. This will help your cardio even more as you'll now focus your eyes on the person instead of the timer that always seem to count slower when performing cardio. Apps like Google Duo are perfect for this, as they will work well even in weaker signal areas.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' annual Health & Fitness special coverage. Read all of the Health & Fitness series.