On TikTok, as in real life, there are tons of different personality types when it comes to fitness. There are #75Hard devotees who spend 75 days completing a so-called “transformative mental toughness program,” that includes two 45-minute workouts a day; there are folks who swear by the 12-3-30 treadmill workout; and there are ultramarathoners who derive joy from running 100 miles in a single day. If you’re looking for something a bit gentler, meet cozy cardio. Cozy cardio, which was coined by TikTok creator Hope Zuckerbrow, is all about moving your body while still feeling as cozy and comfortable as possible. Think: lighting your favorite candle in your living room before following along with a yoga video. But is it an effective workout? We asked experienced marathoner Chris Heuisler, the Global RunWESTIN Concierge for Westin Hotels & Resorts, for his take on the trend.
Cozy Cardio Is Trending on TikTok, But Is It Actually Effective?
We asked a fitness pro
Meet the Expert
Chris Heuisler is the Global RunWESTIN Concierge for Westin Hotels & Resorts. From curating running programs to leveraging partnerships like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, he has also been instrumental in curating Westin’s RunWESTIN experience, including the WestinWORKOUT Gear Lending program through a partnership with Hyperice and Bala. Heuisler started running recreationally in 1999 and ran his first marathon in 2000, which became the start of a challenge to run a marathon in every state with his brother. They have run in 27 states to date.
What Is Cozy Cardio?
The beauty of cozy cardio, for folks who don’t love the structure and rigidity of more traditional fitness plans, is that it can kind of be whatever you want. The main point of cozy cardio is that you’re moving your body in ways that make you feel happy and at ease, rather than adopting a “no pain, no gain” mentality. According to Zuckerbrow’s videos on the topic, cozy cardio has helped her heal from toxic diet culture and mend her relationship with exercise while still losing weight and gaining confidence. “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 the calories from the last delicious meal they ate…or didn’t,” she says in one TikTok. “Cozy cardio rewrites all of that. Cozy looks different for everyone, but my version looks like ambiance, lighting, the flicker of a candle, the taste of my favorite protein coffee or the comfort of the show I’m bingeing. I just applied that to my exercise.”
The premise reminds us of slow living, another concept that’s gained traction on TikTok that’s about slowing down and focusing on appreciating the little things in your day you might otherwise overlook, rather than succumbing to societal pressure to take part in a fast-paced way of life. That could mean incorporating mindfulness into your routine, making more time for hobbies you genuinely love doing or getting out into nature and away from your phone. Basically, doing stuff that makes you feel good.
What Do Fitness Professionals Think About Cozy Cardio?
Heuisler, for one, is on board, telling us, “The goal of fitness is to get people moving, so we don’t need to define what is and what isn’t a workout as it relates to movement.” Adding that we’ve become more sedentary overall, he notes, “Whether someone goes outside to walk their dog or mows the lawn as their daily ‘workout’—we should be celebrating their movement, not judging whether or not their activities constitute a ‘workout.’” He also believes cozy cardio could be a stepping stone for people who might not gravitate toward more aggressive forms of exercise to move their bodies. “If cozy cardio gives someone who was struggling to find the motivation to get off their couch a new sense of inspiration to move, then I’m a fan. Let’s practice adding small, improved habits to our daily regimen as a means to live a healthier life.”
What Are Some Ways to Try Cozy Cardio?
As we mentioned, cozy cardio is more of a wellness philosophy than a strict set of guidelines and rules. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of ways to try the trend out:
- Put on a comfy outfit, queue up your favorite podcast and take your dog on a longer walk than usual.
- Set the mood in your living room via candles or dimming the lights and follow along with a gentle yoga flow on YouTube.
- If you have a walking pad or easily portable treadmill, set it up in front of your TV and walk (at whatever pace is comfortable) while watching your favorite show or movie.
As Heuisler concludes, “What cozy cardio achieves is having empathy for individuals who either don’t know where to start or feel stuck. It’s a safe, gentle way to open the door for anyone interested in adding more movement to their daily routines.” And here’s the thing: Any movement is better than no movement; just because you aren’t sprinting up and down a hill or completing so many burpees your legs feel like they’re made of cement doesn’t mean you aren’t doing great things for your body and mind. And who knows, maybe your candlelit, at-home yoga sessions will lead to a more robust practice as you get more comfortable.