Running isn’t the only thing out there.
Watching those dedicated runners in the park is starting to make you feel like a slacker. You know the runners are getting tons of health benefits, but you’ve tried running and realized it’s not for you. While getting your heart rate up is good for your health, what are other ways to get cardio besides running?
Types of Cardio Besides Running
If you hate running, it’s worth the effort to find another cardio option for you. Many people associate cardio exercises with weight loss or weight management, but that’s just the start. Cardio can also help:
- Improve heart and brain health
- Lower stress levels
- Reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as heart disease
- Strengthen your bones, which may reduce the risk of osteoporosis over time
- Strengthen your muscles, which can improve balance
So what are other ways to get cardio besides running? Some non-running exercises that have all the benefits of cardio include:
Biking (including stationary biking) builds endurance and stamina, just like running. It also helps increase balance, which can reduce your risk of falls or injuries. Plus, biking or cycling is easier on your knees and ankles than running. If you don’t have your own bike, you could use a stationary bike or take a spin class at a gym.
2. Zumba and other dance workouts
Not only is dancing just plain fun, but the energetic movements also get your heart pumping. Some classes even offer specific dance styles so you can have some variation. Zumba has a Latin inspiration, but you can also find hip hop and “Jazzercise” classes in many cities. There’s also barre, which is inspired by ballet, and Pound, which incorporates weighted “drumsticks” and music.
3. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts
HIIT workouts are short but intense. It’s called “interval training” because you alternate between intense movements that get the heart rate up, and a few seconds of active recovery. Another perk of HIIT workouts is that they double as strength training. This means you don’t have to hit the gym as often.
Want to give HIIT a try?
- Check out this 12-minute HIIT workout that requires no equipment.
- For a core workout, check out this 15-minute HIIT class that’s all about abs.
- Check out this HIIT leg workout that’s inspired by kickboxing.
4. Swimming laps
Swimming laps at a rigorous pace builds endurance without hurting your joints. Having to hold or pace your breathing also strengthens lung health. Bonus: no visible sweating involved! (Learn more about the health benefits of swimming here.)
5. High-intensity sports
Sports can give you a cardio workout without you even realizing it. This includes basketball, soccer, tennis, kickball, baseball, football, and volleyball. Grab a few friends or join a local league. You’ll get your exercise in and make some new connections or strengthen existing ones.
Running isn’t the only way to get cardio, so find what works for you. You’ll likely stick with a workout longer when it doesn’t feel like work.
- How much physical activity do adults need?. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control. (Accessed May 24, 2021).
- Benefits of Biking. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. (Accessed May 24, 2021).
- Benefits of Physical Activity. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control. (Accessed May 24, 2021).
- 8 benefits of swimming whatever your fitness level. England: Just Swim. (Accessed May 24, 2021).
- 7 health benefits of Zumba. Atlanta, GA: Piedmont Health Care. (Accessed May 24, 2021).