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How To Turn Popular Games Into Cardio Workouts

    We’ve all had the experience of a workout getting boring. Even if you’re in great shape and you don’t mind the grind of putting in the the process can still get dull over time. Really, it’s only natural! Particularly if you do most of your cardio on indoor equipment like treadmills or elliptical machines, how exciting can it really be?

    The quick fixes to boredom problems are fairly common. Many people try to play energetic music in their headphones, and this is getting easier than ever thanks to themed playlists designed specifically for workout routines. Others try to hook up with running buddies, so that they’re working out alone. And for some, a cure to boredom can be as simple as switching up a routine so that it’s not the same every day—something that’s probably better for your fitness anyway.

    Here we want to look at a few more creative (and slightly more involved) solutions that can make a kind of game out of your cardio routine, and hopefully keep it from feeling too monotonous. The idea is to turn a few popular and accessible games into workout incentives and randomizers.

    Words With Friends

    WWF_1You probably remember Words With Friends as one of the first major multiplayer games to hit app stores. It’s a twist on Scrabble that allows for online competition against friends, and its popularity hasn’t dwindled since it first emerged several years ago. In fact, it recently beat out Pokémon GO as the most popular mobile game in the U.S. It also happens to be a great way to design a buddy workout over distance. All you need to do is determine a sprinting distance—say maybe something in the 15-30 yard range depending on how intense you want to make the exercise—and run for every point scored. You arrange a time to play with a friend, and if they score a 12-point word, you run 12 lengths before playing your own word, and so on. It’s a nice way to randomize a high intensity interval approach. If you happen to be good at the game (or have a crazy vocabulary) it can get pretty


    You can play with an app or with the real board game, but Battleship can represent one of the more straightforward game-based workout routines you can find. There are only five ships to a side, and it can take a little while to sink each of them. So, if you really want to work on your endurance, consider the idea of each ship representing a mile. You can either break up the game and run each mile as each ship goes down (really, it should only take 6 to 12 minutes or so, depending on your fitness level), or you can count up the miles and run them all at the same time at the end of the game.

    Arcade Slots

    If this isn’t your typical type of gaming, you may not realize just how big arcade slots have gotten online. They come in so much variety that online gaming sites have an incredibly diverse selection of games, meaning you can find a table game or slot reel with whatever background you want. That might mean Marvel characters hanging behind the reels, or something more traditional like an old school fruit spinner. Whatever the case, it’s easy to access these games and twist whatever icons show up into different cardio workouts. For example, if you’re playing a Marvel slot (and there are several), you might decide every time Thor’s hammer turns up equals 15 mountain climbers, or every time the Iron Man mask appears it’s two sprints. Again, it’s a cool way to randomize a workout and break up your efforts into unpredictable, effective intervals.

    MLB 9 Innings 17

    You could do it with any baseball game, but this is one of the latest and most impressive baseball options in app stores. Hitting in the game is easy, and that means you rack up a lot of bases. So why not try playing the game outside or somewhere else you can measure a run, and sprinting the 90 feet for each base you hit? It’s a fun opportunity to get in some quick burst training and amounts to an extensive workout over the course of a nine inning game. It may even help you feel closer to the action.


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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