Some people really love to run. In fact, they might even get up early to hit the treadmill or pound the pavement. But let’s face it: if you’re like most people, you probably think this is insane.
Running isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. Even though cardio is important, there are some things about running that can actually be bad for your health. Shin splints are a common problem among dedicated runners, as are knee and joint problems. Because running causes significant impact to the joints and legs, it’s no surprise that it can cause long-term health issues like these.
That being said, cardio is incredibly important. As the name implies, it can make an enormous difference in your heart health. But that isn’t the only part of your body it affects. Cardio is also an important part of keeping your lungs and blood vessels healthy and functioning well.
But if you hate running, don’t worry. There are plenty of exercises you can do to improve your cardio health without going for a jog. Many of these actually burn more calories than running, and they are a lot more fun, too. Here are the best 30 cardio exercises — no running required.
1. Jumping rope
You might think that jumping rope is just for kids but that’s not true. This is actually an intense calorie-burning exercise that even professional athletes and bodybuilders use. You can even combine it with other moves like squats or burpees to customize your workout.
Yes, it might look silly and be something that is usually for kids, but skipping actually has amazing health benefits. Depending on your weight and how long and fast you can go, skipping can burn as many as 1,000 calories an hour.
Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do. Not only does it get your heart pumping, but it also works many different muscle groups throughout the . It even builds endurance, which is vital for improving your exercise.
4. Riding a bike
Here’s the really good news: you don’t even have to do an intense ride to get a great workout on a bike. Even going at a moderate pace can burn more than 360 calories an hour. And going faster, of course, is an easy way to burn even more.
5. Jumping on a trampoline
Jumping on a trampoline is a great way to burn calories and get your heart pumping while having fun. It’ll also strengthen your muscles. But above all, t it’s low-impact, meaning it’s easy on your joints.
6. Squat jackups
This portmanteau refers to a steady, no-stop workout that lasts a few minutes at a time, alternated with rest. You might be able to tell it’s: squats, jumping jacks, and pushups combined. You’ll decide how many rounds you can do safely at a time.
7. Beach volleyball
Beach volleyball gets your heart racing much faster than normal volleyball since you’ll be expending energy fighting against the sand. It’s also easier to burn calories while doing something fun.
Tabata is high-intensity training designed to get your heart rate up immediately. Just a few rounds will be enough to start your heart pumping, especially if you’re a beginner.
Boxing is an amazing way to strengthen the heart pumping and it only takes a short amount of time. However, it also has other unique benefits. These include better hand-eye coordination and increased strength.
10. Take the stairs
There’s a reason why stairs are increasingly a part of workout routines. Taking the stairs burns more calories than jogging and it improves your muscle tone. Doing so on a regular basis can decrease your risk of heart problems by 30 percent.
11. Jumping jacks
One of the best things about jumping jacks is that they don’t just increase your heart rate but also force you to work muscle groups that you don’t normally use. This helps you optimize your workouts and make your movements more powerful.
12. Low-impact cardio
Low-impact cardio routines are pre-designed workouts intended to increase your heart rate without taxing your joints. This is a great alternative to running, which is high-impact.
Dancing is a wonderful way to work your heart. Anything from stately ballroom dancing to intense Zumba can help improve your heart health. What’s more, it’s fun, which means it doesn’t feel like exercising.
14. Weightlifting exercises
Weightlifting is obviously intended primarily to build muscle tone. But the right workout can also improve your heart health. This involves doing sets, alternating between periods of rest and activity.
Rowing is an intense workout with significant cardio benefits. At the same time, it’s a fun way to exercise in a new environment, given that it’s anything but traditional. You can do team rowing as well, which is just as intense but offers a lot of support.
16. Circuit training
Circuit training is a high-intensity workout that uses aerobic exercises to build endurance. It may be too much if you’re designing an exercise regime for the first time, but don’t be afraid to build up to it if you are serious about your heart health.
Under the right conditions, cycling can burn hundreds of calories in an hour. Spinning is the perfect example of this, designed to alternate high-intensity rounds with cooldown rounds that work for different muscle groups.
18. High-intensity interval training
Interval training refers to workouts that alternate between two activities, such as jumping jacks and push-ups. These workouts are highly customizable and perfect for getting your heart rate up.
19. Cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing isn’t available to everyone, but if you can do it, you absolutely should. It elevates your heart rate while remaining gentle and not overly taxing on muscle groups. That means you can enjoy for hours at a time.
Plyometrics is also called jump-training, which is fairly self-explanatory. It involves intense short-term jumping exercises, which increases your heart rate quickly and drastically.
21. Rock climbing
Rock climbing is another exercise that provides the best of both worlds. It provides a great muscle workout while increasing your heart rate and endurance.
Many people will tell you that they hate burpees, and that might be the case for you, too. But there’s no getting around the fact that they’re great for your heart. They’re the perfect combination of jumping and endurance to boost your cardio health.
23. Inclined walking
Inclined walking is much more difficult than you might think. Go for a hike and you’ll see that you get out of breath after just a few minutes. If higher-intensity workouts are too much for you right now, this is a great way to start out.
Squats are another workout that looks deceptively easy. You might not think they’ll have you fighting for breath after just a few, but hey can. However, they’re a great workout for your heart and lungs.
25. Pre-designed workouts
Sometimes, you simply don’t have a lot of time to do activities outside of the home. Thankfully, there are hundreds of workouts that you can access online. These make it possible for you to exercise without even leaving your house.
Singles tennis might involve small amounts of running, but it’s really all about the swing. Short bursts of running combined with the physical effort of hitting the ball are both great ways to increase your heart rate.
Hiking is a fun, low-impact way to get your heart pumping. This makes it the perfect choice for people who love the outdoors but aren’t so crazy about going for a jog.
28. Mountain climbers
The mountain climber exercise involves getting in a plank position and lifting your knees as though you’re “climbing” the floor. While this may look simple it actually provides a serious cardio workout. For skilled athletes, actual mountain climbing is another possibility.
Rollerblading is not only a great cardio workout but it’s also easy on your joints. Additionally, it’s extremely fun and something easy to turn into a lifestyle once you get started doing it.
30. Martial arts
Devoted fans of martial arts enjoy not just the cardio benefits but also the discipline. It’s a wonderful way to combine strength training with gentle cardio — and learn a new way to relax, too.
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