In middle school, I was the only kid who joined the track team expecting not to have to run more than 400 meters at a time (I threw discus and shot put). Even at the early age of 11 — before I fully understood what working out even was — I knew one thing: I hated cardio.
And I haven't wavered on that position to this day.
Don't get me wrong: For the most part, I love working out. Explosive exercises are my bread and butter. But cardio, especially slow burn, indoor, machine-fueled cardio makes me want to die. I find it that boring. So, trust me when I say that I have tried everything — everything — to make cardio fun. I've brought magazines, work, even handheld consoles to the gym in an effort to improve my attitude toward stair-stepping and elliptical training. I've tried motivating myself with smart pedometers, games, and, of course, apps. And while these apps haven't completely transformed my cardio workouts, they have made them...a little less awful.
What motivates you to run? Music? Competition? Personal fitness goals? How about a horde of undead staggering after you?
That's the premise of Zombies, Run! 3 ($4; Android and iOS), an immersive running game. The app works like this: You put your headphones on and start playing one of the 60-plus missions. You start walking (or jogging, or running), and then you hear them — zombies, breathing down your neck. There's only one way to get rid of them, and it's not by turning around and hacking off their limbs: Run!
Zombies, Run! is an audio adventure, which means it uses audio cues (like the guttural sound of breathing zombies, as well as narrations) to egg you on as you run through the streets of your city, town, or even on your treadmill. As you run, you automatically collect supplies, such as medicine and ammo, which you can then use to improve your home base in the app's city-building game. If you want to mix things up, you can also turn on "zombie chase" for an intense interval workout.
The app isn't just a way to make cardio sort of fun: It's an excellent predictor of how well you'll be able to outrun a real-life zombie stampede, should that ever happen to be an issue. (Other TechHive editors swear that this app can help transform anyone into a full-on runner, even if they hate running.)
BeatBurn Treadmill/Outdoor Trainer
There's nothing quite like that moment when you're in a cardio groove. You're moving perfectly in sync with your music, and you feel (almost) like cardio isn't a total waste of your time. BeatBurn Treadmill/Outdoor Trainer ($4; iOS) helps you get into, and stay in, said groove.
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