TikTok's Cozy Cardio Trend Is The Key To Enjoyable Exercise

When you think of exercise, your mind probably wanders to high-intensity walking, running, cycling, or weightlifting. There's an ultimate test of endurance and there's also lots of sweating. In fact, with the mantra that often goes with fitness — "no pain, no gain" — it's easy to forget that exercise can be enjoyable or even a form of self-care. 

In an effort to move exercising from something you have to endure to something you can actually have fun with, TikTok's hope_zuckerbrow has given rise to a viral social media trend — cozy cardio. Just as the name implies, the videos shared by Zuckerbrow (and subsequently others who joined the bandwagon) ooze cozy and comfortable vibes. There is dim lighting; scented candles; a favorite healthy beverage, such as protein coffee or an energy drink; some water poured into a tall mug; and even a TV show to binge on while exercising. And it's all done in the comfort of your home while wearing comfy sweatpants or pajamas and sometimes even fuzzy socks. The ambiance is akin to something you'd witness inside a spa or a relaxing evening at home. 

According to personal trainer Lucie Cowan (via woman&home), cozy cardio is all about making workouts enjoyable. "Instead of pushing for high intensity and heavy sweating, cozy cardio encourages individuals to engage in activities that make them feel good while still getting their heart rate up," she explained. The videos mainly feature the opposite of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts — LIIT (low-intensity interval training). So there's lots of low-moderate level walking and perhaps even some gentle yoga or dancing.

Cozy cardio can be a form of self-care

One of the reasons why exercise feels so good is that it releases the happy hormones — endorphins. We also feel a lot of stress relief when we move our bodies daily. The cozy cardio trend on TikTok is a great way to make exercising a form of sustainable self-care. 

For those of us who might find gyms intimidating or workouts like weightlifting or intense cycling too daunting to fit into our daily routines, cozy cardio provides a great alternative to get started and also stay on track. Part of the reason why many people might stop exercising is because they don't enjoy workouts or they find them to be too demanding. With the cozy cardio trend, all you need is 40 minutes to an hour of a relaxed low-intensity workout done while watching your favorite show or listening to your go-to podcast. It's an effort to romanticize your workout so that you do it consistently, as well. 

Founder and CEO of the 305 Fitness studio in downtown Manhattan, Sadie Kurzban told the New York Post, "For people who prefer to work out on their own, this is a great option. It doesn't matter if you're walking in the gym, at home, or even outside, it's about doing what makes you the most comfortable and what's going to hold you accountable every day." And, since doing some light cardio early in the morning or late in the evening while in a relaxing atmosphere could be an instant mood enhancer, this just might be a TikTok fitness trend most people are likely to try

How to try the cozy cardio trend

While Zuckerbrow's walking sessions seemed to be filmed in the early a.m., there's no real rule for when you should incorporate a cozy cardio session into your day. You could do it in the mornings, afternoons, or late evenings, depending on when you can block out an hour to relax and exercise. 

If you're already working out at home, you can tweak your ambiance to fit the cozy cardio trend if you feel like it. Ultimately, there's nothing to say that someone who enjoys more high-intensity workouts can't adapt the cozy cardio trend to fit their particular needs. As explained by fitness and nutrition expert and founder of MADE wellness center, Penny Weston (via Women's Health), "Although the trend is called 'cozy cardio,' you can opt for any form of exercise, such as yoga, a full body workout, a dance routine, a quick HIIT workout or even Pilates. The trend is not about the type of exercise you are doing; it is about making time for yourself and connecting with your body."

Once you've blocked out your time and picked your favorite exercise(s), create the right ambiance. Dim lighting, cozy interiors, and comfortable clothes make the experience relaxing while watching a show or listening to an audiobook might make the time go by more smoothly. Sip some water or a healthy beverage of choice if you want to as well. For Zuckerbrow, it was about building a healthy relationship with exercise. "I wanted to take the weight back off in a way that felt good to me, not like punishment," she told the New York Post.