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A Walking Treadmill, Coffee and ... Candles? 'Cozy Cardio' Trend Has 'Phenomenal' Benefits

Low-impact "Cozy Cardio" workouts, marked by comfy clothes and strolling on walking pads, have inspired the latest wellness trend

<p><a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@hope_zuckerbrow/video/7350868432046361899">@hope_zuckerbrow/TikTok</a></p> Hope Zuckerbrow kicked off the Cozy Cardio trend on TikTok

@hope_zuckerbrow/TikTok

Hope Zuckerbrow kicked off the Cozy Cardio trend on TikTok

It was 5 a.m. when Hope Zuckerbrow decided to post a TikTok of her morning routine.

“I couldn't go back to sleep. I already had my coffee in my hand. I already had my favorite TV show on and everything was kind of cozy in my apartment already,” the Fort Worth, Texas, native, 25, tells PEOPLE.

“I hopped on my walking pad just because I just wanted to move my body a little bit. That very first time I ever did it, I turned the camera on and boom, Cozy Cardio was born.”

That video from November 2022 went viral, garning more than 500,000 views as people gravitated towards the concept.

Instead of hitting the gym, many TikTokers are wearing fuzzy pajamas, lighting their favorite candles, investing in soft mood lighting and strolling on an at-home walking pad while streaming their favorite shows.

One new mom even shared a video of herself pumping while walking through her Cozy Cardio session.

Zuckerbrow has loved seeing how others have taken her trend and "walked" with it.

“I wanted to start moving my body in a way that didn't automatically connect to the number on the scale or the calories that I've had for the day. I wanted to simply move my body because I enjoyed it,” Zuckerbrow, who tells PEOPLE she's previously lost more than 100 lbs.

She adds, “I had to kind of take the punishment aspect out of exercise and start implementing more pleasurable” aspects.

But does it really count as cardio?

<p>Courtesy of Hope Zuckerbrow</p> Hope Zuckerbrow.

Courtesy of Hope Zuckerbrow

Hope Zuckerbrow.

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PEOPLE wanted an expert's take on the trend. “I think that it's great for mental health. But to consider it cardio, I think that'd be a far stretch,” says Dr. Evelina Grayver, Director, Women’s Heart Program, Katz Institute for Women’s Health, at Northwell.

“When you just gently walk in place and you have the candles on and you have a sort of a different vibe around you, it's more of a mental health and a stress-relief component than actual cardiovascular exercise.”

However, Grayver stresses, “I think that it's a phenomenal mental health” exercise — and says Cozy Cardio can be a stepping stone to exercise with more cardiovascular benefits.

Certain groups may reap even more benefits, she says.

“I think that Cozy Cardio is a really great way [for] new mothers, once they get cleared by ob/gyn, to subsequently get back into a workout regimen. Patients that have undergone some sort of a surgery, it's a great transition to some degree of cardiovascular exercise,” Grayver tells PEOPLE.

“It's movement. It's a good thing to be moving in any possible way — but that's not really considered cardio. Cardio is considered when you get to at least 55 to 85% of your maximum target heart rate,” Grayver explains.

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But as Zuckerbrow tells PEOPLE, “I think it's really important not to put Cozy Cardio into a box. Cozy Cardio is simply a concept. So for me, Cozy Cardio is a nice stroll, a nice walk on the walking pad, but I have a lot of followers who tagged me in their videos of them doing cardio on a treadmill while watching a movie, cardio on the stair stepper — more kind of intense forms of cardio.”

She continues, “I just didn't have a healthy relationship with exercise. Because of the Cozy Cardio, I've started to enjoy movement again. My joints feel better. It's motivated me to be able to get back in the gym and do more intense forms of cardio.”

<p>Courtesy of Hope Zuckerbrow</p> Hope Zuckerbrow

Courtesy of Hope Zuckerbrow

Hope Zuckerbrow

“So. if you want Cozy Cardio to be about weight loss and you want it to be about more intense forms of exercise,” Zuckerbrown tells PEOPLE, “that's totally up to you.”

But while comfy jammies and mood lighting can make exercise less intimidating, there are still some safety guidelines to follow, Grayver points out. "The last thing that you want to do is get on that walking track with your slippers," she tells PEOPLE. "God forbid you can fall and really hurt yourself — even if you're walking at a very slow pace."

Adds Zuckerbrow: “Don't do anything that could be unsafe for you. Please make sure you don't have any lit candles right by long curtains, please make sure you're not doing any activity that is going to hurt you. Other than that, Cozy Cardio, like I said, is a fairly broad concept. So whatever cozy means for you, go get after it.”

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