While essential to any workout, cardio exercises can often be the most grueling and dreaded part, especially when it comes to running. If you’re anything like me, you can’t stand the tiring, breathless, and sometimes painful effects that come with running, but you still crave a good cardio burn. Lucky for us, running isn’t necessary to stay fit and on top of your cardio goals. These exercises are perfect for a cardio workout that will get your blood pumping and heart rate up without the high intensity of a run.
Zumba is a great way to get your heart rate up and have fun at the same time! This Latin-influenced exercise includes a combination of dance and fitness moves to sculpt and tone the entire body. Zumba also gives you both aerobic and anaerobic benefits that help boost heart health and burn lots of calories. Plus, it’s a great de-stressor and could even improve your coordination over time. Zumba videos are also very abundant online if you’re doing an at-home workout. If your cardio goal is to feel like you just ran 10 miles but enjoyed it, then Zumba could be for you!
2. Jump rope
Jumping rope is another great cardio exercise for anyone who might despise running like I do. This exercise is not only a major calorie burner, but it’s also a good way to strengthen the muscles surrounding your ankles and feet and prevent any injuries in the future. Jump ropes are fairly cheap too, so this exercise could be a simple way for you to get your blood pumping. All those years of double-dutch during recess have prepared you for this workout!
You’ve probably heard of High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT before, and it’s a workout that’s worth your attention. HIIT consists of intense and high-speed exercises that will keep your heart rate up and your body moving at all times. Sounds tiring? It is! But, in comparison to running, HIIT burns more fat in less time and includes a variety of cardio exercises to keep you interested and excited about your workout. YouTube has tons of options when it comes to HIIT workouts especially and it’s a great place to find exactly the workout you want!
4. Climb some stairs
Elevator or stairs? Take the stairs! Whether you’re on a stair climber or just climbing to the top floor of your apartment, this easily available exercise could be your next go-to for a cardio workout. Climbing stairs burns twice the amount of fat than running and will burn calories more quickly. Plus, the vertical movement of stair climbing forces your muscles to resist gravity and puts more demand on the lower body, something you can’t get from a run. You could find a park with lots of stairs to get a more scenic view during your workout, or just get your sweat on at home!
5. Jump squats
This exercise can get your heart pumping, while at the same time building strength in your lower body. The rapid movement of jump squats is an awesome calorie and fat burner and can even enhance your mobility over time. Jump squats aren’t always the easiest exercise to do, but you can make them more manageable for yourself by splitting your reps into sets and doing a less intense cardio exercise in between. Jump squats also come in tons of different variations, so don’t be afraid to mix it up a little!
6. Mountain climbers
This next exercise includes holding a high-plank position while alternating bringing one knee to your chest in quick motions. It sounds simple enough but including this exercise in your workout could amp up your heart rate and give you added benefits that you can’t get from running. Not only are you building cardio endurance, but you’re also gaining core, arm, and shoulder strength. It’s a full-body burner that’s great on its own or alongside other cardio exercises.
7. Go for a swim
If you hate running because of the strain it puts on your joints, swimming is a great option! As long as you have access to any sort of body of water or pool, you can get a full body and cardio workout. The impact of stress on your body is significantly decreased but you are getting all the same benefits as running, plus more! Swimming isn’t just an awesome workout, it’s also fun and relaxing, and can be done in a variety of places.
This killer cardio exercise is one that won’t be easy but is worth every rep. Burpees are fantastic for not just cardio, but all-around fitness because of the different components. A burpee includes a squat, a plank, a pushup, and a high jump, all coming together to get your heart racing and your body aching. Break up your workout into sets to make it more manageable or get it all done in one go! Like most of these exercises listed, you can do burpees anywhere and tag them into any workout.
9. Jumping jacks
This classic cardio exercise is an oldie but a goodie. Doing enough jumping jacks in your workout is a perfect form of cardio and moves your body out of the normal range of motion. You can also do different variations of jumping jacks that include kicks and squats to keep it interesting and fun. Any form of jumping is sure to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping.
Don’t feel like doing a traditional cardio workout? Just have a dance party instead! Dance is a fantastic way to get your heart racing and your muscles burning. You could blast your favorite upbeat songs and just freestyle it or follow along to the thousands of dance fitness videos available for free online. You’ll increase both your cardio and muscular endurance and have a great time doing it. Plus, the more you enjoy your workout, the more likely you’ll continue it in the future.