Cardio is an essential part of any well-rounded fitness regime. It’s great for weight maintenance, excellent for your lung and heart health, and can even add years to your life. Even if you’re not a huge cardio buff, incorporating some sort of cardio exercises three to four times a week (for 20 to 30 minutes each time) should do the trick. However, if you’re someone who hates running, it can be a challenge to find other ways to get your heart rate up.
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Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways to get a good cardio workout without running. Here are 10 of our favourites.
Plyometrics are just a fancy way of saying “jumping workout,” but they’re more than just hopping around the gym. Plyo involves the explosive use of your core, legs and gluteal muscles, strengthening and toning during quick, powerful bursts. The movements of plyometrics include two basic concepts: depth drops and depth jumps. The results of plyometric training are a higher vertical leap, improved performance in competitive sports and faster sprint times. It’s one of the best cardio workouts around.
Put on a playlist of some of your favourite tunes and let loose. Dancing is a great way to get yourself moving, as it’s a full-body exercise with virtually no limits. The best part? It’s fun! Your jam comes on, and you’re out on the dance floor shaking what you’ve got. Burn up the dance floor and torch calories at the same time.
3. Jumping Rope
There are some great jump rope workouts that serve as effective cardio routines. You might be surprised at how challenging jumping rope actually is, but to keep things interesting, try some of these 20-minute routines and see how far you can push yourself. Plus, you can jump rope almost anywhere, which makes it a great cardio exercise on the go.
4. Elliptical Workout
Though not without its share of controversy, the elliptical machine can offer a zero-impact cardio workout that’s easy on your knees, hips and other joints. Coming back from an injury? The elliptical is perfect for easing back into working out without running and without lifting any additional weight. As you gain strength, you can increase your speed and/or resistance with the mere touch of a button.
Whether you brave the city streets or opt for a spin class at the gym, cycling is a great way to amp up your workouts, burn tons of calories and yes, get your cardio on. Consider biking to and from work or school, or discover your city’s maintained trails for biking and running in the summer.
6. Inline Skating
Inline skating a.k.a. roller-blading, is a great source of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a lot of fun. There are paved trails in and around most city parks or there are indoor skating rinks if you prefer. If you’re skilled, get yourself to a skate park and learn some tricks from the other skaters. You’ll have so much fun, you’ll forget you’re actually working out. Be sure to wear protective gear like a helmet, knee and elbow pads to prevent serious injury.
Did you know that a fast-paced swim is called a “sprint?” Swimming is a fantastic way to get your heart rate up and work both your upper and lower body. It’s a full-body exercise that challenges every muscle, with little impact on your joints.
8. Walking Stairs
This workout can be done outdoors or on a stair machine at the gym, and will get your legs all fired up. Walking hills and stairs works your core, quads, and glutes, as well as giving you a cardio boost due to the incline (and all without having to run). Your quads will get a super charged workout and so will your heart!
Rowing appears calm and graceful from afar, but trust us — you’ve never been more challenged than at the end of a 500-metre rowing sprint. Climb onto a rowing machine and set a goal to row for 10 minutes to start with.You might be surprised just how challenging it can be. Each time you work out, add 1 to 2 minutes duration and increase the resistance.
10. Pyramid Workouts
Pyramid refers to the length of time you spend on each level when on the elliptical, cycling, rowing, or any other form of cardio. For every minute that passes, you increase the resistance. Once you reach your max, you work your way back down the pyramid to your cool down phase. Here’s an example of a 20-minute challenging pyramid workout you can try.
So there you have it: 10 fun and challenging options for a cardio workout that involve zero running. Now get out there and get that heart rate up!