10 cardio exercises to do instead of running
Running isn’t for everyone. But there is plenty of other cardio exercises you can do to boost your heart rate. Go hard with these 10 low-impact cardio alternatives.
1. Climbing stairs
If you have access to some flights of stairs in your apartment building or a local park, take advantage of them. Not only does climbing stairs get your heart racing; it also strengthens your lower body — booty, upper legs, and calves. Try to climb up and down stairs for 30 minutes, and then work your way up to a full hour.
2. Power yoga
Yoga isn’t just for relaxation; you can get a great cardio workout in, too. Power yoga works your core and legs while challenging your balance and flexibility. It incorporates elements of cardio and strength training, so it tones and defines your whole body as you burn calories.
There’s a type of dance for everyone to enjoy, whether it’s ballet, salsa, contra dance, hip hop, or Zumba. Whichever you choose, it will help you to work up a sweat and burn a lot of calories. Interested in taking a dance class? Check one out at your local gym or stream an online class.
Most people don’t realize that swimming provides an excellent cardio workout, especially if you’re swimming laps. Plus, it’s easy on your joints. In fact, you can burn up to 600 calories an hour by swimming laps.
Hiking is especially great if you’re unable to run. It’s not as stressful on your joints or lungs, and it still provides an outstanding cardio workout. What’s more, it strengthens your core and improves your balance. Hiking up even a small hill can increase the number of calories you burn up to 40%.
6. Elliptical trainer
Found at most gyms, elliptic trainers simulate the motion of running without straining your joints. It also allows for a total body workout, enabling you to burn up to 600 calories in 30 minutes.
Whether at the gym or around town, cycling provides an amazing cardio workout. It gets your heart pumping without putting undue stress on your joints. People of all fitness levels can ride a bike. As you get better with it, you can then ride uphill for an optimum workout.
Walking is an easy activity that can be done anywhere, and it’s a lot gentler on your joints than running. The best thing about walking is that you can really challenge yourself; you can walk uphill and also engage in speed walking. The possibilities are endless. Regardless, most health professionals recommend that you walk for at least 30 minutes per day, five times a week.
9. Circuit training
Circuit training involves a series of cardio and strength training exercises that are repeated multiple times without little rest in between. An all-strength circuit burns 30% more calories than a typical workout and offers cardio benefits, helping to blast fat and sculpt muscle.
Boxing might seem like an unconventional workout, but it provides strength training and cardio. Boxers usually fight for three-minute rounds and then take a one-minute break, which gets their hearts pumping. It also works out your upper body and core, helping to shape and define them. You can easily burn up to 500 calories an hour boxing.
Running's a fantastic exercise if your body can hold up to it. If it can't, these exercises deliver all the same benefits as running with a fraction of the impact. Now that should set your heart racing!
- "3 Exercise Alternatives for Injured Runners," Active, April 16, 2013.
- "10 Cardio Alternatives for Non-Runners," Spry Living, March 12, 2015.
- "End Your Running Rut with These Indoor Cardio Alternatives!," POPSUGAR, November 16, 2015.
- "Good News if You Hate Running: Here Are 5 Even Better Ways to Get Your Cardio," Prevention, July 30, 2015.