I Tried Cozy Cardio, and This Is Why I Love It

I‘ve tried all kinds of exercise: hopping on the elliptical, yoga sessions, Zumba classes, hot girl walks, various recreational sports, strength training, running, trampoline workouts. They’ve all had their time and place in my life with different “pros and cons,” so to speak. But other than volleyball—something I do solely for fun—none have particularly stuck for me long-term.

I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. Switching up your workouts is, in its own way, an avenue for keeping exercise doable, healthy, and fun.

At the same time, it would be nice to have more types of movement I could rely on and really make consistent, no matter how much time, money, energy, or motivation I do (or don’t) have.

That’s where “cozy cardio” comes in.

The 411 on cozy cardio

Enter Hope Zuckerbrow, a TikTok creator and founder of the “Cozy Cardio Club.” She started the “cozy cardio” trend, which basically pairs low-impact exercise with comfy clothes, your favorite TV show, aromatherapy, and whatever else helps you feel, well, cozy.

“Society puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way, and because of that, a lot of them have turned exercise into a punishment, or a means of solely working off…calories,” says Zuckerbrow on TikTok. “Cozy cardio rewrites all of that.”

@hope_zuckerbrow Replying to @muhlissa hope it helps💗 #fyp #weightloss #workout #dietculture #selflove #cardio #cozy #cozycardio ♬ Stories 2 – Danilo Stankovic

Usually, the exercise entails hitting a walking pad in the living room, but it can incorporate all types of movement. (“Cozy looks different for everyone,” says Zuckerbrow.)

This mindset is a welcome one, at least for me. According to another one of Zuckerbrow’s videos, “Exercise doesn’t have to be done in a cold and sterile environment. It can be sensory-friendly and fun.” She also noted that cozy cardio healed her “relationship with exercise and brought joy back to movement again.” After trying it out for myself, I can totally relate.

How I’ve made cozy cardio workouts work for me

I don’t have a walking pad or desk treadmill (yet) because, you know, budgeting. I’m also a little reluctant to jump around too much in my apartment since I’m on the third floor. If you’re in the same boat, no worries: Cozy cardio workouts can be done in all kinds of ways.

Personally, I love walking outside and listening to Taylor Swift when the weather is nice. Yes, you can be cozy outdoors! At the gym, you will catch me on the bike with a book to make all that pedaling more enjoyable. When I need some fun at home, I’ll blast some music, get in a hot shower, lather up with Bath & Body Works’s stress relief soap, and vibe like I’m at a concert. These movements stimulate multiple senses, from smell to hearing to touch to sight. Not only does that feel pleasurable, but it’s also one of the fastest forms of stress relief.

Looking for at-home cozy cardio options as the weather cools? A fitness instructor and dancer on Good Morning America recently shared some quiet movements you can do with the help of your couch while watching a movie (yes, literally). Personally, I’m also curious about trying yoga with a candle and green noise, or messing around with arm weights while I catch up on a TV show in bed.

These types of cozy cardio make it easy to incorporate fitness into my daily life—even if only for 10 minutes, and even when I’m not trying to fit exercise into my day.

Bring on the cozy vibes with this bedtime yoga flow:

A trainer’s take on the physical health benefits

Exercise that’s more enjoyable and desirable: Is it too good to be true? Is 10 minutes of arm exercises in bed even worth it? “The good news is the physical benefits of cozy cardio are going to be much the same as any other cardio!” says Emily Decker, MSW, CPT, an intuitive movement coach.

For instance, whether you’re doing it while watching TV in your sweats or while hitting the local track, walking improves cardiovascular health, strengthens bones and muscles, and prevents several diseases, among other benefits. Sure, a cozy approach might mean less intensity, but it can still be a welcome change of pace for your body on an otherwise-stationary day.

And if you choose an upbeat activity like dancing in the shower, you can find similar benefits to a traditional dance cardio or Zumba class. “Moderate to intense heart-pumping activity can improve heart health and respiratory capacity, boost the immune system, and help prevent many diseases,” Decker says. A shower may be shorter than a 45-minute class, but even getting a few minutes of movement offers health perks.

…and the mental health benefits

Cozy cardio has mental benefits before you even get moving! “Many people avoid exercise because of previous negative experiences or because they don’t have the energy to do what they’ve been taught ‘counts,’” Decker says.

Opting for cozy cardio can alleviate some of the mental hurdles. “Adopting a cozy mindset and building a nurturing environment can go a long way to minimizing obstacles and giving a person a gentle pathway to just start moving, even in pajamas,” Decker continues. “You don’t have to get dressed, drive to a studio, or do an hour-long spin class to get the ample benefits of exercise!”

Movements like these also have positive effects to reap afterward, such as a mood boost, increased patience with loved ones, and more.

Are there any physical or mental drawbacks?

Not really! “If it gets people moving in a way that feels good [and] is safe for their bodies, I can’t think of any drawbacks,” Decker says. “The best workout is always going to be the one that works best for you.”

Further, she agrees that a candle, fun drink (anyone else love flavored sparkling water?), and a comforting show can give your cardio routine extra self-care vibes and help you feel at home in your skin.

Which brings me to my next point: One of the biggest bonuses about cozy cardio is how adaptable it is. If I want something chill, I can grab some scented lotion, turn on Abbott Elementary, and do simple stretches, all with “bed head.” If I want to get my heart pumping, I can play Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” as I jump in the shower for my “concert” or head outside for a fast-paced walk to “You Belong With Me” (Taylor’s Version, of course). In this way, cozy cardio follows the principles of intuitive movement, with a lack of pressure to “show up” for anyone but yourself or do anything your body isn’t already craving.

Regardless, I’m getting in tune with my body, practicing self-care, and having fun—all without the traffic, social anxiety, and dread that comes with some of my more “traditional” workout sessions.

And Decker’s all for it. “The great thing about the cozy trend is that it makes cardio more accessible and even comforting,” she says. “That can make the difference between actually doing some movement and not doing any.”

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