When you think of cardio, one of the first things that probably comes to mind is running. Some people love the feeling of a runner’s high and get excited at the idea of running a marathon. Others cringe at the word and get flashbacks of having to run the mile for the Presidential Fitness Test in school. Whether you love it or hate it, cardio is a key component of exercise that should never be excluded from a fitness plan. Cardio, which is short for cardiovascular, is an exercise that keeps your heart rate up for a continuous length of time. It is important to remember that your heart is also a muscle, and just like any other muscle, it needs to be exercised to stay strong and healthy. Here are six cardio alternatives to running that will get your heart rate going.
Cycling is something that can be done indoors, through a spin class, or outdoors on a mountain bike (or any bike you prefer). Because cycling is a low impact exercise, cycling is easier on your knees and joints. However, that doesn’t make it easy! You are able to change up your workout by adjusting the intensity, resistance, and time.
Just like cycling, swimming is easy on the joints. In fact, the water helps reduce the stress on your joints due to the buoyancy. Swimming also tones your arms, legs, shoulders, and core, giving you a sculpted body.
If you want a scenic exercise without having to run, consider hiking. The uphill climbs are sure to get your heart pumping while sculpting those calves. Be sure to keep in mind any safety procedures for the area you’re hiking in. You don’t want to disturb or scare the wildlife around you!
Dance is the most creative cardio alternatives there is. From the chacha to the jitterbug and the waltz to break dancing, there are tons of ways to increase the strength of your heart and lungs while expressing yourself. If you’re a beginner dancer, you might be interested in learning how to memorize dance choreography quickly and effortlessly.
5. Jump Rope
This classic playground activity is more than just a game. Not only does jump rope act as a cardio workout, but you also increase the strength in your legs, improve your coordination, and build stronger bones. Additionally, this activity is easy and inexpensive. You can jump rope anywhere at any time, and the cost of a jump rope is far less than a bike or dance class.
If you want to get a cardio workout without spending a dime or worrying about any equipment, circuits are the way to go. A combination of burpees, high knees, mountain climbers, tuck jumps, and jumping jacks will do the trick. To get the most of your workout, be sure to engage your entire body by targeting multiple muscle groups. You can do this by including dips, push-ups, and squats into your circuit as well. Here’s a circuit for you to try out:
No matter which workout you go for, don’t forget to breathe. It might sound silly and simple, but as mentioned earlier, your heart is a muscle, and muscles need air for blood flow. Improper breathing can result in headaches, ruptured blood vessels, and/or loss of consciousness. A general rule of thumb for breathing when working out is to exhale as you do the work and to inhale when you are at rest. For example, if you were doing a crunch, you would exhale as you go up and inhale as you go down. Remember, your first line of defense against a workout injury is proper form and breathing.
Which was your favorite cardio alternatives to running?