Though avid runners could easily name a few dozen great things about the sport, those who aren’t so in love are quick to point out the high-impact on joints, crushed toes and all-too-common shin splints that are unfortunate realities for frequent runners. We’re certainly not saying that the chance of injury outweighs the benefits of running; we’re saying that some people haven’t bought into running and that’s okay.
In fact, that’s more than okay. With plenty of other options, non-runners will have no issue finding other cardio workouts that better suit them; all they have to do is be open to trying a few new workouts. To help in their self-discovery we’ve compiled a list of suggestions. The following are fantastic cardio workouts that are both fun and effective, try a few (or all of them) and find your new cardio niche.
HIIT is the essence of quick and effective cardio, which is perfect for those interested in maximizing their time in the gym. The high-intensity routines are centered around bouts of all-out exercise followed by short rests or active recovery periods, so most HIIT workouts take no more than 30 minutes. If you dread running but still want to get a great cardio workout, HIIT is fast, tough and elicits a great afterburn effect.
Don’t know where to start? Take a look at this 20-minute HIIT workout.
The tried-and-true workout, swimming will always be one of the biggest calorie burners and toughest total-body workouts around. Not only does swimming bring major cardiovascular benefits, but it also builds strength, increases flexibility, strengthens the lungs and improves bone density. Further, it’s a low impact workout, which means it’s safe and effective for people of all ages. So next time you need to get your cardio in, head to the pool instead of the treadmill.
Don’t know where to start? Try this customizable pool workout.
Maybe solo exercise just isn’t for you and you miss the competitive nature and teamwork of organized sports, in that case you should consider joining a local league. Local sports leagues offer everything from basketball to lacrosse in areas across the country. Whatever your sport of choice, there’s a good chance you can find others playing, so join a league and reap the cardiovascular benefits on the court or field.
Easier on your body than pounding the pavement, cycling or spinning is a great cardio workout with major benefits. In addition to getting your heart pumping, biking builds strength, relieves stress and gives you the opportunity to get outside. Whether it be in the gym or the great outdoors, getting in the saddle is good for your body and mind.
This fusion of martial arts and cardio is a killer workout that can burn upwards of 700 calories in an hour. Other major draws of the workout are the opportunities to relieve stress and learn a few key self-defense moves.
Wondering where to start? Take a look at this cardio kickboxing workout.
Much like HIIT, circuit training is a series of exercises, performed in a quick sequence with little to no rest in between. Each workout usually consists of three to five sets and it’s generally a great way to build strength and cardiovascular endurance. Also like HIIT, circuit workouts are efficient for those on a tight schedule and can be customized. Give this convenient workout a shot to beat boredom.
Not sure where to start? Try this 20-minute circuit workout.
Hiking might be considered more of a hobby than a workout, per se, but you simply can’t argue with the cardiovascular benefits. All you need is a pair of quality hiking boots and a trail with a sizeable incline to start feeling the physical challenge for yourself.
Don’t know where to start? Take a look at the 30 Great American Hikes.
Bring it back to childhood and hop around on a trampoline. Dedicated studios and gyms are popping up around the country to take advantage of this fun fitness trend and though it may just seem like play, it’s actually a great cardio and strength workout. So great, in fact, that Slopestlye Silver Medalist Devin Logan incorporates bouncing into her training to keep her in Olympic-level shape.
When it comes to challenging and exciting workouts, it’s tough to beat rock climbing. Grasping onto tiny crevasses and supporting your whole body while hanging off a rock face is a major adrenaline rush and a great cardio workout. This heart-pumping workout torches calories, builds lean muscle and helps with flexibility.
If you’re looking for a great place to get started, check out our list of the best climbing spots in the U.S.
Whether you’re out on the water or in the gym, it’s a good idea to switch it up from running and try rowing. The workout provides similar cardiovascular benefits to running, but targets different muscle groups in building strength. The upper-body benefits combined with the intense cardio exercise make a stand-out workout at least as good as running, if not better.