Are you sick of turning to running to get your cardio workout? People love running, but it’s not for everyone, and these alternative cardio workouts provide an escape from the ‘boring’ cardio exercise everyone knows.
Most people who are into exercise know that running is great cardio, but the sport isn’t for everyone. You see those people who get up at like 5 am just to go for a run and wonder what it is that they love so much about their feet slapping the sidewalk. There are also a bunch of injuries that come with running, and shin splints are very common for those who hit the road regularly.
For other people, it’s the monotony of running that makes the exercise a real struggle, and running on a treadmill can be particularly uninspiring. Doing cardio sessions each week is essential though, as it helps us to have healthy hearts while keeping our lungs in top shape.
Thankfully there’s more than one way to get your heart pumping, and if running isn’t for you, we know a bunch of great alternatives. Not only are these alternatives great for people who don’t like running, some of them actually burn more calories too! Check out our alternative to running cardio exercises.
If you’ve got a smile on your face when working out, then you aren’t going to think of it as exercise. Instead, you’ll just think of it as a fun activity that you love doing. One activity that almost guarantees to put a smile on your face at any time is dancing.
Dancing classes such as Zumba have become popular across the world because they just make people feel so happy and healthy. Not only is the music fun to listen to and dance along to, but it also provides a welcome distraction from the fact that you are exercising.
When we were kids, many of us were great at using a jump rope, but as we get older, we all forget about this simple exercise. Most of us associate jumping rope with being kids, but it’s an amazing way to workout for adults too.
All you need is a little bit of space to jump, and you can get in a pretty intense workout. The calorie-burning benefits are so great that even professional bodybuilders, boxers, and athletes use a jump rope to train with. To make the workout even more intense, try mixing jump rope with squats or burpees.
Taking the stairs
Many of us don’t really walk anywhere these days, unless you count walking from our house to our car. If you drive to work and your office is not on the ground floor, then perhaps think about taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Your heart will also thank you as, over time, your little cardio workouts will get your blood going. When working out, adding stair exercises can increase the calories burned drastically, and they will also help to build up your muscle tone. Working out on the stairs is thought to reduce the risk of heart problems considerably, too.
You might have noticed an increased number of workout videos surfacing on the internet where people are jumping onto boxes or just all over the place. This is called plyometrics, and the jump-training is very effective in building muscle while giving you a cardio session.
The exercise involves short-term jumping periods, which are meant to be intense to help build up your endurance. Your heart rate goes up very quickly during a plyometrics session, and you’ll be working plenty of muscle groups at the same time. If you want an overall body workout but are pressed for time, then a plyometrics session is a great exercise.
One of the most effective workout programs these days is thought to be HIIT (high-intensity interval training). It’s all about pushing yourself for a certain period of time then taking a quick breather before you go at it once again.
The best thing about HIIT workouts is that they are completely customizable to you, so you can add in whatever exercise you like, and for as long as possible. There is no limit to the number of routines you include, so you can come up with a new HIIT session each time you hit the gym if you want to.
One of the main problems with running is the pressure that it puts your joints under, so finding low-impact cardio exercises can be essential for giving your body a rest. You still want to continue exercising, but your knees and legs will need a rest at some point.
You can find low-impact cardio classes available at your gym that have been specifically designed to get your heart racing without pressure on your joints. Low-impact workouts will help to build up your basic fitness levels without putting you out of action by increasing the risk of injury through sports like running.
Most people really don’t like burpees, but that’s just proof that they are a really effective workout. They are punishing because it takes a lot of endurance to keep going after a few. Burpees get your heart racing which is a boost to your heart's health, but there’s more to them than cardio.
Thanks to the push-ups and jumping, you will also be building strength and using muscle groups that you might not be using otherwise. The more burpees you can do, the better your cardio is going to be in the future, and they’re great for any workout.
Tabata will really push you beyond your limits, because that’s the aim of the exercise. It’s a series of high-intensity sessions followed by intermittent periods of rest. Tabata was created in 1996 by Dr. Izumi Tabata to try and improve the performance of skaters.
Once the results were positive, the exercise was circulated, and it's beginning to sweep across the world as the popularity rises. The exercise session continues until those partaking in it are too exhausted to continue. The fitter you are the longer you’ll last, and the more you do Tabata, the better you’ll get at it.
One of the best things about the internet is that it makes everything convenient for us. If you don’t have the time to book into a class at your gym, then it’s no big deal because there are tons of free classes online.
All you have to do is search for whatever type of workout you'd like to do, and thousands of results will come up. Now you can get a full-body workout without even having to leave your home. There are plenty of pre-designed workouts ready for you to look up and do within seconds of searching for them.
We’re not talking about lifting your maximum weight, we’re talking about weightlifting exercise. You don’t always have to lift heavy, and going lower means you can do more reps and really work up a sweat in a different way.
There are even classes you can take which specialize in cardio but also like to incorporate smaller weights into the exercises. That way you’re getting the best of both worlds by strengthening while also making your heart do plenty of work. These exercises are great for improving the health of your heart and can bring a new element to working out.
Going outside on a bike is great, but there are rules on the road you have to follow, plus can you really cycle as fast as possible on the road? There are injury risks, but spin classes can up the intensity without adding any of them.
The point in spin is to follow the music, and mix high-intensity periods where you push yourself to the limit with cooldowns. This is a version of interval training, which is excellent for building up your recovery speed but also increasing your level of endurance. Plus you’ll get really sweaty because it is seriously intense.
If you actually like running but struggle to do it because of the pressure it puts on your joints, then try rollerblading. This is basically the same as running except it’s low-impact while still providing you with a great cardio workout.
The best thing about rollerblading is how much fun you’ll be having while outside, as you watch the world whizz by faster than if you were running. Rollerblading gets your arms moving and is a low-impact total body workout. You’ll be feeling so good after doing it, you might even decide to make it a part of your lifestyle permanently.
Skipping is a little bit like running, but much more fun and doesn’t drag on forever. It might be an exercise you were more used to doing as a kid, but it is one of the best exercises around for adults.
You might look a little bit silly while skipping, but the health benefits are worth feeling a little bit silly for a while. If you’re able to skip well, then you could be burning up to 1,000 calories per hour. Skipping is like a more intense version of running because you get much more of your body involved.
Rock climbing is one of those exercises that does a bit of everything. It will help to build strength as you’ll have to manipulate your body up a climbing wall or really tall rock face. There is also the added benefit of the cardio workout that comes with rock climbing because it really increases your heart rate.
Some of that is the adrenaline from being so high up, but mostly it’s because it’s an intense workout. Rock climbing also helps to increase your endurance because it takes time to scale a huge wall with nothing but your bare hands and feet.
On the face of it, squats appear to be quite easy, and maybe doing just one or two can be for some people. If you commit to a squat exercise routine however, you’ll soon find that they are anything but easy and it quickly becomes a test of endurance to keep going.
Doing an intense squat workout can have you gasping for breath just as much as any other cardio exercise can, plus you’ll really feel it the following day. Squat drills are great for your heart and lungs while building up core and leg strength at the same time.
If you like the idea of exercising in the fresh air like runners do, then jump on a bicycle. You'll still get to look around, but you won’t be completely focused on trying to breathe that you miss the scenery.
Cycling is a great cardio exercise because you can push yourself as much as you want, all while enjoying a nice seat. Moderate cycling can burn around 360 calories per hour, but if you step up the speed or incline, then you’re going to be burning way more. It’s low-impact, which means you can go for hours if you want to.
Depending on the level of your opponent, tennis can offer different types of workouts. If you and your opponent are well-matched, you can have long rallies where the ball remains in play for 10, 15, or even more shots.
Those rallies are great for cardio and endurance, but there are other types of games to be played in tennis too. If you’re much better than your opponent, you can either lower your level to keep the rallies going or focus on bursts of energy. Try to finish the rally within three shots where you put maximum effort into every shot.
Boxing isn’t all about stepping into a ring and trying to knock someone else’s head off. You don’t even have to fight anyone to enjoy boxing training and get the benefits of the sport. Boxing is an excellent cardio workout, and within minutes, you’ll be sweating... But that’s not all.
Your hand-eye coordination will also significantly improve the more boxing training you do, while you will also find yourself getting stronger too. There is also the added benefit of being able to punch some pads as hard as possible when you’re having a really bad day to relieve some stress.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to find a mountain to scale with this exercise. To do mountain climbers all you need is enough space to get into a plank position. From there, you bring your knees up to your chest while alternating your legs.
They might look pretty easy, but they take quite a lot of endurance to do many of them, and they are a serious cardio workout. It’s like you’re climbing, but while doing a plank, so you work a lot of muscle groups in one exercise. Trust us, you’ll be sweating after doing them for over a minute.
Swimming is great for everyone, and the health benefits are so amazing you’ll be wondering why you haven’t spent more time in the pool. It’s perfect for people who are unable to do any high-impact exercises as it’s very easy on your joints.
It’s not easy, though, and it will get your heart going pretty quickly while ensuring you focus on your breathing. If you don’t concentrate on breathing, there’s a good chance you’ll either drown or last about a minute. One of the best things about swimming is that it builds endurance, which improves your all-around exercise ability.
One of the great things about rowing is that not only is it an intense cardio workout, but it can be fun. There are significant cardio benefits to rowing as you need to use pretty much every part of your body.
You can also go head to head against a workout buddy on a rowing machine and set yourself a target. The first one to get to a certain milestone wins and gets the glory until you face off against each other again. Adding competition to your workouts can increase the effectiveness of them and push you to work harder.
This workout requires friends, but once you gather some buddies, you’ll be having so much fun it won’t feel like exercise. Beach volleyball is more of a workout than regular volleyball because not only will you be trying to keep the ball in the air, you'll be fighting the sand.
Just walking across a beach can be a challenge if the sand is loose, so volleyball really ups the ante. It’s really all about fun in the sun when it comes to beach volleyball and the time will pass so quickly you’ll have burned hundreds of calories in record time.
Downhill skiing can be a good workout, but cross-country skiing is definitely great for your heart. It’s basically like going on a cross trainer as you’ll need to use both your legs and arms to propel you across the snow.
The sport isn’t available to many people because it requires a lot of snow, but if you ever get the chance to do it you should. It’s actually a pretty gentle sport because the skis do a lot of the work, but if you want to make it more intense, all you have to do is try to move quicker.
If you’ve not jumped on a trampoline as an adult yet, you’re in for a great surprise. It’s so much fun, and you won’t even realize how much exercise you’re doing. Bouncing around on a trampoline burns calories pretty quickly as it gets your heart pumping pretty fast.
Trampolining will also work muscles in your body you didn’t even know you had, which is also great for building strength and endurance. The best thing about trampolining is that it’s low-impact, which means your joints will still be happy with you and won’t have you screaming in agony after your workout.
Okay, so walking is a slower kind of running, but it’s actually a super effective cardio workout. Inclined walking steps things up even more and if you don’t believe us, then try going on a hike for a while and see how you get on.
After just a few minutes, you can get out of breath on a hike, especially if you try to push yourself. Inclined walking can also be done on a treadmill and is a great way to improve your cardio if you’re unable to do high-intensity workouts. Inclined walking burns plenty of calories and builds up endurance, too.
If you don’t have much time or are unable to get to the gym, then there are still a bunch of exercises you can do quickly at home for free. Jumping jacks not only increase your heart rate, but they also get you working muscles you don’t normally work.
This makes them an ideal exercise for many of us. Building strength is also a key part of exercise, and focusing too much on cardio can be counterproductive. Throwing in some strengthening exercises while also getting in a good cardio workout is perfect for people who don’t have much spare time.
Martial arts is more than cardio, it teaches you discipline. People who practice martial arts can enjoy the benefits of discipline while combining it with a gentle cardio workout. There are also significant strength benefits to doing a martial art so your body will feel great after a session.
Another added bonus of martial arts is that it teaches people to relax as they learn to focus on what their body is doing and nothing else. Martial arts instructors will get their students to do a combination of exercises designed to build up endurance and strength to improve their skills.
Squat jack ups
Sometimes the best exercises are the ones you’ve never heard of before. Take the squat jack up; it combines three simple exercises to really push your body to its limits. You will be doing squats, jumping jacks, and pushups in this non-stop exercise.
The best way to feel the benefit of squat jack ups is to do them for several minutes at a time followed by a rest period, before going again. It’s up to you how many rounds you do, and for how long you do them, but start by doing them for a minute and go from there.
One of the problems that many people have when it comes to exercise is the repetitive and monotony that comes with doing the same things over and over. Mixing things up by doing circuits helps to not only work different parts of your body, but most importantly, it keeps things interesting.
Cross fit has become wildly popular for this reason as it forces people to work out different areas in the same session. It’s high-intensity and is especially good at building endurance in athletes. It’s not necessarily for beginners, but it’s great for people with a basic level of fitness.
If you really love the outdoors but cannot stand jogging, then hiking is perfect. You can explore the fresh air for hours at a time and wander through the trails at your own pace. Hiking is low-impact but still gets your heart pumping.
Plus it’s great fun to explore the wilderness for a while. The best thing is that you can get the whole family involved and still have a good workout but spend quality time with the ones you love. Who said exercise had to be all about yourself? Hiking is great at bringing everyone in the family together.