Aerobic exercise – or cardio – can sound intimidating to many of us, especially if we’re not particularly active. Typically, cardio means anything that elevates the heart rate. Often, we think of cardio exercises mean running, riding the stationary bike, climbing stairs, using the elliptical or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. These workouts feel hard – and our body knows it: we sweat, our heart is pounding and we have to push ourselves to keep going. Many times, we have to work up the motivation to even get started.
Enter “cozy cardio,” a social media movement that could help many of us overcome our hesitations – and dread – with getting active.
That’s because cozy cardio is just what it sounds like: it’s approachable. It’s no-stress, low-sweat.
It’s rolling out of bed in your pajamas, lighting a couple of candles and throwing on your sneakers to walk on a treadmill or walking pad with your mug of coffee for 20 minutes. It’s turning on your favorite show at night while pedaling on your stationary bike at a level low enough to be easy but with enough resistance that you don’t injure yourself. And it’s a gentle stretching or yoga practice, with an essential oil diffuser and a string of lights throwing a gentle glow on your room.
Cozy cardio has been growing in popularity since 2022, when social media user Hope Zuckerbrow introduced the idea on TikTok. She recently celebrated cozy cardio’s one-year anniversary by reposting her first video, with her walking pad set up in her living room behind her couch. At 5 a.m., she turned on her favorite reality TV show, lit some candles, made an iced pumpkin spice protein coffee and logged some steps before heading to work that day. “Cozy cardio is when you intentionally set time aside to love on yourself and better yourself in a super cozy way,” Zuckerbrow said in a recent post on TikTok. “I like to put ambiance lighting in, get my favorite beverages and hop on my walking pad and watch my favorite shows.”
The idea is customizable: find a way that feels good to get moving or get your heart rate up. Typically, these are low-impact workouts – which are great for the body. Low-impact workouts allow you to raise your heart rate without putting extra stress on your joints. This is especially good for anyone working to recover from an injury. These workouts can also help the body maintain and even build muscle mass, which is important to promote healthy aging.
One of the greatest perks to cozy cardio is that it promotes an easy entry point to exercise and movement – with the goal of improving consistency. Most adults don’t get enough movement. While the American Heart Association recommends Americans aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week, less than half of U.S. adults are meeting that goal, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, adding in cozy cardio to your routine may not be enough physical activity to meet health experts’ recommendations. Talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine, and discuss whether your physical activities are meeting your health goals and needs.