Running is not for everyone. Those who love to run tend to really love it, while many more of us force ourselves out because we believe that running is the key to fitness. But it doesn’t have to be.
Cardiovascular exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle and has many benefits including supporting the immune system, improving lung capacity, aiding sleep, and boosting mental health. But running is not the be-all, end-all of cardio.
Here are seven other fun ways to get your heart pumping and get a great cardio workout without a pair of running shoes in sight.
Cycling is a great choice of cardio exercise for those who love the great outdoors but don’t enjoy running. You can select the type of terrain and length of ride depending on where you are in your fitness journey. Going out for a cycle is also a fun activity to do with your partner, children, or a friend.
If you prefer to stay indoors, cycling on a stationary bike is also a good cardio workout. You can do this at the gym, in a spinning class, or on your own stationary bike at home. Bonus: you can watch TV while you do it!
Swimming is a low-impact, full body workout that can get your heart rate up without putting strain on your joints. The water adds resistance, which helps to burn more fat and increase your strength.
Bored of swimming laps? Why not try an Aqua Aerobics or Aqua Zumba class for a change of pace? You can also make your swim more fun by investing in an underwater MP3 player and playing some songs or a podcast while you get your laps in.
Yes, walking counts as cardio as long as you move briskly! Whether you walk to and from work, take your dog to the park, or meet a friend to walk and talk, you’ll get your heart pumping and your muscles working. Walking offers many of the same benefits as running, but at a slower pace and without the extra stress that running can put on your knees, ankles, and feet.
Walking on a treadmill also counts, if that’s more your speed. But walking outdoors brings the added benefits of fresh air and being in nature, so we recommend getting outside if it’s available to you.
Have you ever seen a team of rowers gliding along and thought how serene it looks? Well, rowing is actually a surprisingly hard cardio workout. You don’t need access to a boat or a body of water, either (though if you do fancy joining a club and giving outdoor rowing a go, it is great fun.) Most gyms have rowing machines that simulate the motions involved in rowing a real boat.
Because you’re seated while rowing, it’s a great choice of cardio for anyone looking to avoid stress on their knees and ankles.
Power yoga, also known as vinyasa yoga, is not all gentle poses and breath work! You’ll move quickly through a series of poses and sequences to get your heart rate up and improve strength and flexibility all at the same time.
You can join a class or practice yoga at home. There are thousands of both free and paid tutorials online that will take you through a structured yoga workout. Just make sure you choose power or vinyasa yoga, not one of the gentler varieties, for a true cardio workout.
Dancing is a full-body workout and incorporates all the major muscle groups. Energetic dancing will raise your heart rate and burn fat at least as effectively as a run, and you’ll probably have a lot more fun doing it.
There are numerous different types of dancing out there, so choose one that works for you. Zumba is a popular dance fitness program. You can also find studios offering ballet, hip hop, swing dancing, pole dancing, ballroom dancing, and more. Even just putting on some of your favorite songs and dancing around your living room can give you a great workout.
Far from just being something children do on the playground, hula hooping is a major fitness trend and it’s great fun! You can attend a class, follow a video, or just grab a hoop and do half an hour in your living room. Once you’ve mastered basic waist hooping, there are all sorts of tricks and fun moves you can learn.
If you want to increase the intensity and amount of calories you’ll burn, try a weighted hoop.
The best workout is the one you’ll stick to
If you hate running, you won’t go. You might force yourself out of the door a few times but a regular routine will not stick. Instead, why not get your cardio workout in by doing something you enjoy? The best workout is the one you’ll do regularly, and that is most likely to be something you look forward to rather than dread.