When you think ‘cozy,’ you might picture yourself curled up on the couch under a blanket, watching a movie. Or maybe you’re sitting in front of a fireplace with a book and a glass of wine. What probably doesn’t come to mind? Cardio.
After all, sweating it out in your cycling class or on a run is a lot of great things… but it’s typically not associated with the same warm feelings of a rainy day spent lounging at home. But that’s exactly the point of ‘cozy cardio’—the new fitness trend originating on TikTok that puts these two seemingly incompatible concepts together.
In other words, for those who shy away from a workout because they feel intimidated by the intensity (or the cold, sterile environment of the gym) ‘cozy cardio’ is a less intimidating way to still break a sweat—especially as we head into the colder months.
Want to get started? Let’s break it down.
What is Cozy Cardio?
Started by TikToker Hope Zuckerbrow, cozy cardio is simple: Get your heart rate up while feeling as comfortable as possible. This will look a bit different for everyone, but it might mean dimming the lights in your living room for a bit of ambiance, putting on your favorite show, and wearing your favorite sweats. As for the cardio, that might mean a brisk walk, or a yoga flow, or another form of movement that feels good to your body.
In one recent TikTok video, Zuckerbrow shows her cozy cardio routine that starts at 5 AM on a rainy morning. First, she fills up her water bottle, makes her protein coffee, and lights a fall candle. Then, while wearing pajamas, she gets on her walking pad and cues up a rom-com for her 30-minute walk/jog.
Similar to the ‘soft hiking’ trend, which aimed to make hiking less intimidating, cozy cardio challenges the idea that cardio has to be super intense to be worthwhile. As Zuckerbrow explains in one video, she started the practice to heal her own relationship with exercise. Her goal is to take the pressure off of movement and change the perception of cardio as a form of punishment.
And people are buying into it: “Cozy cardio club” currently has 8.9 million views on TikTok.
Is Cozy Cardio Legit?
If you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and making your way over to your Peloton Bike or Tread, cozy cardio can help ease that transition—even for Peloton instructors themselves. “I do cozy cardio all the time! Especially on the days I am finding zero motivation,” says Callie Gullickson. “I find it so much easier to at least get moving and it always makes me end up wanting more.”
By creating a routine you enjoy, you’ll also be more likely to stick with it over time—the key to achieving any fitness goal. As Callie puts it: “Movement is movement. You will never stay consistent if you truly don't find joy in what you are doing.”
And yes, the lower impact cardio routines—like walking or cycling—that are typically associated with cozy cardio are definitely ‘legit’ for so many reasons! “A lot of times when people hear low intensity they immediately write it off thinking they won't get a good workout, which is definitely not the case,” Callie says. “These workouts produce the same benefits as high-impact workouts, such as better heart and brain health, low risk of diabetes, and stronger bones with one key difference—reduced stress on your joints which prevents injury,” she adds.
If you’re someone who loves higher impact or higher intensity workouts like running, that’s great. But if you’re struggling to enjoy your workouts because you’re always worried about a PR, remember these two things: “Not every workout should be the most strenuous workout you've ever done—and sweat is not an indication of a beneficial workout,” Callie says. “Just because you didn't sweat as much as you would've liked, your body was still moving and doing more than if you decided to stay sitting at a desk or on the couch.”
The power of cozy cardio, which Zuckerbrow sometimes calls ‘meditational self-love’ is that it’s really a way of taking care of your mental health, too. “When we look at exercise as a way to better our mindset, mood, and strength outside of the workout you can truly shift your perspective from ‘I have to workout’ to ‘I want to workout,’" Callie says.
How to Get Started with Cozy Cardio
Remember: Cozy cardio is intended to remove the pressure from exercise, so don’t stress about whether you’re doing it ‘right'. It’s all about creating your own version of a blissful environment.
“Personally, I enjoy wearing comfy clothes, such as sweatpants and a crew neck, instead of my usual sports bra and spandex,” Callie says. “I would also try playing with more dim lighting, throwing on some comfy socks if you can manage moving your body in them, and lighting a candle,” she suggests. (Of course, just make sure to use caution when choosing where to set it and don't forget to blow it out!)
Then, choose a form of cardio that you enjoy. Maybe that’s cycling or rowing—both great forms of low-impact cardio that will still get your heart pumping. Or, if you have a Peloton Tread, perhaps you hop on your Tread for a Power Walk or Hiking class instead of going for a run.
You can also use the Peloton App to get in on the cozy cardio trend. Especially if you’re trying to build a new routine or get back into working out after a break, Callie recommends starting with a 10-minute class—like a vinyasa-style yoga flow or mat Pilates—and building up to longer classes.
It just might make you think about cardio in a whole new way.
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