What Is ‘Cozy Cardio’? Here’s What Heart Doctors Are Saying About This Gentle Exercise Trend

Updated: Nov. 27, 2023

If it's not a gym day or you're not a gym fan, doctors suggest "cozy cardio" can help you stay active—especially as the colder months draw near.

If you’ve ever gotten into a regular exercise routine, you know exercise is good for the body and the mind. Clearly, extreme workouts aren’t for everybody—or even if you adore a good sweat, we all need a lighter day every now and then. Lately, some TikTok users have discovered a new way to get moving in a way that’s friendly to just about any lifestyle. Enter: Cozy cardio.

At press time, the hashtag #cozycardio had garnered over 3.7 million views on TikTok, with users showcasing how they engage in this type of exercise. Hope Zuckerbrow, social media influencer and creator of the Cozy Cardio Club, spearheaded the trend with her videos that popularized the cozy cardio modality.

Commenting on the cozy cardio craze is Maureen Wang, MD, a cardiology doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and Medical Group Brooklyn: “Cozy cardio offers an inviting entry point into regular physical activity as any individuals are hesitant to start exercising, particularly in a public setting like a gym or a class,” Dr. Wang says. “The low barrier to entry makes cozy cardio accessible, and utilizing online resources or apps for guided workouts can further ease the initial phase of starting an exercise regimen.”

In other words, cozy cardio can be a healthy way for people to add movement into their days and even strike up a friendlier relationship with exercise.

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What is cozy cardio?

“Cozy cardio” is exactly what it sounds like: Low-impact cardiovascular exercise, executed in a comfortable way. Cozy cardio is supposed to take the pressure off of workouts and weight loss and not put unnecessary rules on how to do it best,” Zuckerbrow says. “Whatever ‘cozy’ means to you, decorate your exercise space like that and thrive.”

For many people, Zuckerbrow included, this looks like mood lighting, a few candles, a cup of iced coffee, and a favorite show as they engage in a chill workout. 

One popular setup for cozy cardio is a walking pad (a pared-down version of a small treadmill), an exercise bike, a portable elliptical, or some form of yoga or online fitness class. Says Dr. Wang: These activities are easier to incorporate into daily life, require less time and energy, and are less strenuous, making them more sustainable. Besides walking and cycling, other activities such as light weight training, yoga, and bodyweight exercises can also be beneficial for heart health, while being feasible to do at home.”

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The benefits of cozy cardio 

As with any exercise, Leonard Pianko, MD, a cardiologist in Aventura, FL, notes that most any type of cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for both mental and physical health: “Adding exercise to your regular routine promotes heart and brain health, mood elevation, weight control, strengthening your bones, and preventing falls,” Dr. Pianko says. “The greater you increase your heart rate, the greater the benefits.” Of course, if you’re just starting out, speak with your doctor first—and don’t crank up the intensity (or your heart rate) until you’ve taken a period of time to condition your body to work up to that point safely. 

Dr. Pianko suggests that walking and other low-impact cardio workouts can improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels, which are two risk factors for heart disease. Adds Dr. Wang: “The goal is to condition the body for more strenuous activity over time, rather than focusing solely on weight loss. Consistent cardiovascular exercise improves respiratory function and prepares the heart for higher levels of stress, offering long-term health benefits.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s recommended that people get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.