Bring Back YAY With Cardio: The power of adventures, podcasts & company

My hope in sharing my three best low-intensity-steady-state cardio strategies with you is that you will find that 4th-grader-headed-to-recess excitement within your self, and that you’ll have a healthier, happier body because you’ll start to enjoy moving more and more.

We all know that cardio workouts are good for our hearts and necessary to keep our bodies healthy. But if you’re like me, knowing something is good for me doesn’t always translate into me actually doing it. I’m a sprinter to my core. I’ll do high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts all day long because they are fun, engaging and always changing. And then there’s LISS. LISS is “low-intensity steady-state cardio.” Good examples of LISS are walking, slow jogging and constant pace swimming. I used to joke that I’d rather watch paint dry than do that kind of cardio. LISS training not only seemed horribly boring to me, it also felt like a waste of time because it felt so easy I didn’t think I was accomplishing anything.

Turns out, LISS training actually does a world of good for our bodies and accomplishes things that HIIT or resistance training cannot. LISS should be part of all of our weekly movement plans for a variety of reasons. LISS is actually more effective at burning fat that HIIT because our bodies require oxygen to metabolize fat. HIIT is an anaerobic activity, meaning, “without oxygen,” whereas LISS is aerobic—“with oxygen.” In fact, walking burns more fat per calorie than either jogging or running. LISS training also helps activate our bodies’ parasympathetic nervous system, which helps essential body systems rest and repair themselves. And, LISS has been shown to increase creativity and brain activity. Plus since it’s inadvisable to do HIIT or resistance training every day, LISS is a great way to move our bodies on “off” workout days. As I learned more and more of the benefits of LISS I got more excited about LISS training from a health perspective, but the thought of jumping on a treadmill still made me want to cringe. Maybe you feel similarly.

Then, I discovered adventure, podcasts and the delight of walking with friends. These three discoveries not only helped me start to enjoy LISS, but to also eagerly look forward to it with the giggly excitement of a 4th grader who knows that recess is coming.

My first best strategy to enjoy LISS is adventure. There is something magical about rolling hills, trails with lots of curves and neighborhoods I’ve never seen before. Before, I would dread going for a walk or run because it was boring. But, when I make it an adventure the wonder of a beautiful trail or a new place creates a draw to know what’s just up ahead, past where I can’t see—what’s over the next hill, around the next curve, one more block up. Even in familiar places, the seasons change the view and renew that beautiful sense of wonder all over again. Try adding some adventure to your walks or runs. Take a different route home from work and stop for a 30-minute walk through a new neighborhood, or find a trail around a city park or on the outskirts of town. Try setting a timer for however much time you have to move and just go explore. Shoot, pretend you are 10-years old again and the captain of a very important exploration expedition charting new territory. I dare you to test that one and try not to giggle your way into a giant smile! Adventure changes my after work walk/jog/bike into something I look forward to. It brings my YAY back and my body gets healthier in the process. Spicing LISS up with adventure is so fun! Give it a try!

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When it gets cold and outside adventure walks are less fun, I turn to podcasts to fill my cardio sessions with YAY. I love learning, but my days are often too full to just sit down and listen to a podcast beginning to end. Because of podcasts, treadmills have gone from my archenemy that I avoided at all costs to one of my favorite things at the gym. Walking on a treadmill at the gym creates a rare space in my days where I am totally undistracted to get totally lost in the adventure of learning something new. It’s a treat for sure!

I’ll often cue up a list of podcasts I’m interested in at the beginning of the week. Then, instead of dreading my treadmill workout, I feel a rush of excitement because I get to listen to a podcast that I’ve been looking forward to hearing all week! Books on tape are similarly wonderful! Usually, one podcast or one book chapter is 30-40 minutes long, which is the ideal length of time for LISS training. Give it a try this week. Hop on a treadmill, pick a steady pace that feels fast but comfortable, and get some undistracted you-time. Truly, LISS days on the treadmill have become one of my favorite things and I believe they can become one of your favorites too. If you need a suggestion on what to listen to, leave a comment and I’ll give you some of my favorites! And, if you have some personal favorites, I’m always looking for new material and would love to hear what gets you fired-up. Find what gets you excited and bring back your YAY by creating time in your week to listen, learn and move. You’ll get smarter AND healthier. Plus, what you learned in your podcasts makes great dinner conversation. YAY!

My last best strategy is go with a friend! Meeting a friend after work or mid day for a good long walk is wonderfully therapeutic. Whether you talk or just keep each other company, walks with friends are an easy highlight in any week.

Oh, and who says these three strategies can’t play nice together? Cue up a good podcast and find a fun trail, or take your friend on a trail you just discovered. You’ll double the fun, and your body will get healthier as a result. I’m willing to bet that after a couple rounds of adventure walks, podcast treadmills or walks with friends, your LISS movement sessions will become a highlight of your week. Give it a try this week and watch it bring back some YAY to your days!

Cheers to adventures, to learning, to friends and to healthy, happy bodies!



P.S. Here are some fun low-intensity-steady-state-cardio (LISS) facts to tickle your brain.

1. Walking burns more fat per calorie than jogging, running or sprinting.

2. Walking on a treadmill at a 15% incline at 3.5-speed setting burns the same number of calories as running 8-minute miles. (Adam and I tested it side by side one day. Identical calorie burn for 30 minutes).

3. LISS makes your HIIT workouts more effective because LISS conditions your body, over time, to use fat more as it’s primary fuel source even during other types of workouts.

4. LISS is an incredible stress reducer because it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, triggering your body to rest and start repairing your internal organs, hormonal systems and muscles.

5. LISS has also been proven to boost creativity. So when you’re feeling bogged down at the office, go take a couple laps around the building, you’ll calm down, get some new ideas and do your body good in the process.

6. You’ve got so many options for LISS: walking, jogging, swimming, road biking, trail biking, ballroom dancing, fast-paced window shopping, chasing your kid down the street on their tricycle…you will absolutely find something that works for you!

Hally PaulsonComment