I love running. It is one of the best cardio exercises, and for me, a great stress reliever. I got turned on to running by a co-worker about 3 years ago who was a marathon and triathlon runner. She convinced me to train for an 8K that was to benefit a local children’s hospital (Jonna loves the kids) and so I started on this running journey. However, I found out quickly that running does not love me. Strangely enough, while being fitted for running shoes, I found out that one of my legs is slightly shorter than the other which put a lot of strain on my knees and ankles while running long distances. This came to a head while running that 8K. Right as I passed mile 3, I couldn’t fee anything past my ankles. I began to walk for about 1.5 miles and then ran to the finish line. I felt great at the moment – I finished my first 8K, my first ever K anything, in about 54 minutes. However, it took me 2-3 months just to get back in the gym working out again. Lesson learned – only do 5Ks.
Maybe you have the same concern or have had a similar experience when it comes to running. While running is a great form of exercise, it can be hard on your joints and can result in injuries. But there are some great alternatives that can replace running in your workout regimen. So don’t use your inability to run as an excuse – try some of these exercises that have the same health benefits!
Swimming. Swimming is a great because it doesn’t require you to support your own body weight (since the water is keeping you up) which makes it a great option for those who are overweight and prone to injuries that are common in runners. If you aren’t a good swimmer, there are plenty of flotation devices you can use to help work your way up to a better workout. Now, if you are anything like me, you may be concerned about the affects of chlorine on your hair from regular swimming. A lot of gyms have pools and offer aqua aerobics classes, or even AquaZumba, to make your workout in the water lots of fun. These workouts aren’t done underwater, so more than likely your hair won’t get wet at all. If you don’t have a gym membership, or your gym doesn’t have a pool, check your local community pools as many offer water aerobics classes as well.
Cycling. A bike is good low impact alternative to running. Unlike running, you can use a bike to travel long distances which can even save you gas money. Ride your bike to the gym or the store instead of driving or simply ride to your local park just for fun. If you don’t own a bike, you can also use the stationary bikes at the gym or sign up for a spinning class. A spinning class is a relatively quick (and high intensity) way to workout. Ladies, I will warn you now that you may want to invest in a seat cushion or padded shorts if you plan to take a spin class or use a stationary bike. Those bike seats can do a number on the vajayjay – just trust me, okay? Okay.
Walking on an Incline. If you like working out on the treadmill but can’t run, try walking on an incline. Most treadmills go up to at least a 12% grade which can be just as challenging as a run. When you set the speed and incline high enough, you will burn 400-600 calories per hour without even running. For me, I also have an issue with walking on treadmill, which still puts pressure on my joints. So I use the elliptical which eliminates that pounding since its a continuous motion, and by increasing the level of resistance, I increase my calorie burn.
Circuit Training. Circuits use strength training exercises (free weights, body weight exercises, machines, resistance bands) with little or no rest in between sets. This keeps your heart rate up just like running and incorporates all the muscles in your body. Circuit training can save you time at the gym by combining elements of both strength training and cardiovascular exercise. This will keep you from having to incorporate them separately into your workout. You can also do circuit training at home if you don’t have a gym membership. If you aren’t sure where to start, I’d suggest signing up with a local bootcamp session or personal trainer so that you can get an idea of a good routine for you. You may not continue with the sessions but you can incorporate what you learn long after the session is done. If you want something free, check out www.MrShutUpAndTrain.com created by Atlanta-based celebrity training Rahman Grayson. He offers free virtul fitness challenges that incorportate circuit training with healthy eating. I did his last 21-day challenge, and had great results. A more intense version of circuit training is HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training. This would include popular workouts like P90X and Insanity.