Don't Be Afraid of Cardio Diversity

Switch up your cardio routine for a healthier heart.


By Emily


Every once in a while, it can be physically and mentally beneficial to switch up your cardio routine. In doing so, you gain the potential to have a healthier heart, become more interested in your workouts, meet new friends , and improve overall mental health.

Think back to the beginning of your cardiovascular fitness journey. Some of the workouts were probably challenging at first, but now you can do them easily. If you constantly do the same workouts, they might become too easy and that could be because your body has grown comfortable with your weekly routine and your muscles have memorized your workout. This means that you could potentially be straying farther from your fitness goal.

Instead of spending 30 boring minutes on the elliptical, why not spend 10 minutes on the stair-stepper, 10 minutes on the bicycle and 10 minutes on the treadmill? You might find that doing your workout this way is tougher, and that’s simply because your body hasn’t gotten used to it yet. Taking a break from the same old cardio routine might feel refreshing for your mental health, too.

Testing new forms of cardiovascular exercise in the gym, and trying new things in general, is beneficial to your mental health. If you never try anything new, then you are missing out on every opportunity to enjoy something new, and enjoying something new is sure to improve the state of your mental being.

Examples of mental and emotional benefits of exercise include a sharper memory, higher self-esteem, better sleep, more energy, and stronger resilience. Working out also releases endorphins in your brain, which makes you feel energized and happy; relieving tensions.

There’s a plethora of exhilarating ways to get your daily cardio in. The elliptical might feel comfortable to you, but a few times a month, try to go rollerblading, swimming, kayaking, dancing, play beach volleyball, or even jump on a trampoline! The options are endless! Switching up your cardio routine could encourage you to fall in love with a new hobby, or meet new people and possibly even make a new friend.

Another reason why it’s beneficial to establish variety with cardio machines is that variety allows time for cardiovascular recovery. Letting your heart recover between intervals or cardio machines will result in a stronger and healthier heart. Before you can determine how much recovery time to give your heart, you’ll first have to discover your maximum heart rate.

Knowing your maximum heart rate is an important factor in reaching your fitness goals, because it’ll allow you to get the most out of your workout time.

To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. This means the maximum heart rate for a 20-year-old should be around 200 beats per minute. When you’re lending your heart recovery time, you should get your rate down to about half of your maximum heart rate. So for a 20 year old, this means near 100 beats per minute. Most people can achieve this within about 30 seconds; but if it takes you slightly longer, that’s okay. Give your heart the time it needs to recover, and then accomplish the next part of your workout.

Something to remember here is that we aren’t letting our hearts COMPLETELY recover between intervals or machine switches. Instead, we are simply taking a short break from the high intensity cardio workout, giving our hearts a little slack and time to mend, so that they can become stronger and healthier every time this process is repeated.

A potential con to this idea that you use multiple machines is that, in a gym setting, you’ll be cleaning around three cardio machines, opposed to just one. But, once you take your heart’s health and newly found lack of boredom into consideration, it’s worth it!

Emily is in the program Mass Communications: Journalism and Media Studies at the University of South Florida in Saint Petersburg. She is also a writer for the technology based blog, the Gadgeteer, and in her free time she contributes to her school's newspaper, the Crows Nest. On the weekends, you might find her at the Saturday Morning Market working under the Mother Kombucha tent or blissfully rollerblading in Vinoy Park. Emily is a self-proclaimed fitness guru, and is psyched to merge her love for healthy living and writing together. Follow Emily on Instagram or contact her at

Main Photo Credit: lzf/; Second Photo Credit: Podushko Alexander/; Third Photo Credit: Serghei Starus/; Fourth Photo Credit: Uber Images/