Cardio. It’s everyone’s favorite way to burn calories, but who really loves the treadmill? If you’re tired of feeling like a hamster spinning away on your road to nowhere, don’t despair. There are options. Read on to discover eight super effective cardio alternatives. All of them have the potential to be more fun and more beneficial to your waistline:
Whether you do it in a nightclub, in the privacy of your living room or at a Zumba class, dancing is a fun and effective way to get your heart rate up. You don’t have to have all the right moves, either. Break out the Macarena, jump around like a funky chicken or shake your body any way that feels right. The important thing is to keep moving.
Make it more fun by bringing others along. Go out dancing with friends, seek a buddy for Zumba class or dance at home with your children or nieces and nephews. If you do combine exercise with Saturday night fun, be aware of how much you drink. Consuming too many liquid calories can offset the weight-loss benefits of cardio exercise.
2. Aquatic Exercise
You may have heard about the benefits of swimming, which works out your whole body in a joint-friendly, low-impact environment. Doing laps is a great way to get in your cardio, but it can get boring and repetitious like the treadmill. If you love the pool, mix it up with different forms of aquatic exercise.
Look for a water aerobics class. You’ll find similar moves as with a regular aerobics class, but the water resistance adds an element of challenge. Some fitness centers may offer additional water classes such as aquatic cycling, jogging and pole dancing.
Performing these cardio workouts in the water is fun, easier on your joints and refreshing in cool water. You can even create your own class if you have a backyard pool or access to a community pool.
Many people associate yoga more with relaxation than an accelerated heart rate, but it can also be a great way to get a cardio workout. Taking a fast-paced Vinyasa class, a challenging Power Yoga class or a heated class like Bikram are all ways to get your burn on. You’ll also receive yoga’s many other benefits including relaxation, a calm mind, muscle toning and spirituality.
4. Bodyweight Exercises
Harness your bodyweight for natural resistance you can use anywhere, no gym machines needed. You’ve probably already heard of some of the best bodyweight exercises such as lunges, squats, plank, push-ups and bicycle crunches. These movements will tone your muscles while raising your heart rate through the challenge of staying in difficult positions.
5. Rounds for Time
Once you’ve created a routine of your favorite bodyweight exercises, up the ante, as well as your heart rate, with a time challenge. This exercise is a favorite of cross fit devotees. As you move through your routine, also known as a round, time yourself. Then try to beat your own record.
Of course, doing the same exercises as quickly as possible will have different effects than holding a position like the plank, but similar to a fast-paced yoga or aerobics class, you’ll get a good cardio workout as you jump from one exercise to the next.
Get on a bike and explore the great outdoors. Make your heart race when you conquer hilly terrain in a spinning class. However you prefer to experience it, cycling is a wonderful cardio workout. Like dancing, it’s even more fun with a friend. Look for a cycling club in your city if you don’t already know biking enthusiasts.
In addition to the cardio benefits — you could burn up to 500 calories an hour — cycling is a low-impact exercise that strengthens your core and lower body muscles.
Looking for cardio and a way to release frustration? Look no further than kickboxing. It’s the perfect exercise to do after work, when you can imagine your boss or that demanding client on the other end of your jabs and kicks. Even when you’re doing a round of punches or legwork, you’re moving back and forth on your feet like a boxer. The continuous movement puts your cardiovascular system to work, and the moves themselves are easy to learn.
8. Jump Rope
It may seem too basic to count as exercise, but this beloved pastime is a natural cardio workout used by many professional athletes. It’s inexpensive to pick up and you can do it anywhere, indoors or out. Use it as a way to exercise with your kids if you’re a parent, or just enjoy the pleasure of recreating your own happy memories from childhood. There’s no wrong way to jump rope, and you’ll benefit any way you do it.
There are so many options to choose from, you may never get on the treadmill again. However you get your cardio, make it fun. That’s the best way to ensure you’ll stick with it.