Over 110 Cardio Workout Ideas

Limitless Options for Aerobic Exercise

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It's not a secret that aerobic activity is essential for the health of your heart, body and mind. After all, regular cardio exercise has been shown to reduce body fat, decrease total cholesterol, boost mood, lower resting heart rate and improve heart and lung function. It's almost like a magic "health" pill when you think about!

So why don't more people do cardio regularly? Well, some think it has to be extremely difficult or miserable to count, and others just don't set aside the time to make it a priority. Both camps, in fact, are misguided, as aerobic exercise doesn't have to be back-breaking (it can actually be fun!) and being active is a cornerstone to living a long, healthy life. When you get right down to it, what do we have if we don't have our health?

The really fantastic news is that cardio doesn't have to take you forever and it doesn't have to be at the gym, nor does it have to include running or other high-impact exercises if those aren't your speed. There are hundreds of cardio options out there. The trick is picking a few that you like and then doing them intensely enough to count as cardiovascular exercise.

How does one particular thing go from "activity" to "cardio?" It just has to meet two principles:
  1. The first is intensity: It only counts as cardio when you elevate your heart rate into an aerobic zone, which is 55 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate your target heart rate here. Simply check your pulse during any activity to find out if your activity counts as exercise.
     
  2. Second is time: For any activity to count as cardio, it has to last at least 10 minutes per session. Shoot for a minimum of 10 to 20 minutes per session, building up to a full hour over time. And remember, time can be cumulative, so 10 minutes here and there throughout the day is a perfectly fine and convenient way to squeeze in your cardio!
Lastly, for best results, you need to do at least three days of cardio—with no more than two days off between sessions—per week. As you get stronger, you can work toward doing cardio five to six days a week.

Anything from the extensive list below that meets the intensity and time guidelines above can count as aerobic exercise!
    At the Gym

  1. Elliptical trainer
  2. Stair stepper (Stairmaster)
  3. Stationary or recumbent bike
  4. Jacob's ladder (the climbing "treadmill" often seen on "The Biggest Loser")
  5. Arm ergometer (arm cycle)
  6. Rowing machine
  7. Circuit training
  8. Treadmill (walking or running)
  9. Kettlebells
  10. Interval training
  11. Box jumps
  12. Step ups
  13. Plyometrics

    Household Chores
     
  14. Vacuuming
  15. Scrubbing floors
  16. Cleaning the bathtub
  17. Washing windows
  18. Mopping
  19. Changing sheets
  20. Painting
  21. Heavy renovations (pulling carpet, knocking down walls, etc.)
  22. Moving furniture
  23. Raking
  24. Gardening
  25. Cleaning the gutters
  26. Washing the car
  27. Mowing the lawn with a push mower
  28. Shoveling snow
  29. Sweeping the patio and walkways
  30. Cleaning out the garage
  31. Heavy landscaping such as planting trees, shrubs and bushes

    The Great Outdoors
     
  32. Cycling
  33. Hiking
  34. Snowshoeing
  35. Downhill skiing
  36. Cross-country skiing
  37. Water skiing
  38. Wakeboarding
  39. Rock climbing
  40. Jogging / Running
  41. Power walking (brisk walking)
  42. Rollerblading
  43. Paddling a canoe
  44. Nordic walking
  45. Surfing
  46. Paddle boarding
  47. Swimming
  48. Water jogging/running
  49. Skateboarding
  50. Bleacher running
  51. Ice skating

    Sports
     
  52. Tennis
  53. Flag football
  54. Hitting balls at the driving range
  55. Soccer
  56. Hockey
  57. Basketball
  58. Lacrosse
  59. Boxing
  60. Martial arts
  61. Kickboxing
  62. Kickball
  63. Karate
  64. Jiu-jitsu
  65. Racquetball

    Group Classes
     
  66. Spinning
  67. Step aerobics
  68. Jazzercise
  69. Zumba
  70. Bootcamp
  71. Power yoga (Ashtanga and/or Vinyasa)
  72. Salsa dancing
  73. Dance classes or lessons
  74. Cardio kickboxing
  75. Hi-lo floor aerobics
  76. Water aerobics
  77. BODYPUMP
  78. Silver Sneakers
  79. Gliding
  80. Orangetheory Fitness
  81. Hip-hop dance
  82. Sports conditioning
  83. CrossFit
  84. Krav Maga
  85. StrollerStrides or StrollerFit classes
  86. Turbokick

    Popular Workout Videos
     
  87. P90X
  88. Insanity
  89. Chalean Extreme
  90. Cardio Blast with Coach Nicole
  91. Hip Hop Hustle
  92. Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred
  93. The Biggest Loser workouts
  94. Tae Bo
  95. Walk Away the Pounds
  96. Sweatin' to the Oldies
  97. Turbo Jam / Turbo Fire
  98. Hip Hop Abs
  99. Gilad's Bodies in Motion
  100. Dancing with the Stars workouts
  101. 10 Minute Solution cardio titles
  102. Coach Nicole's 10-Minute Jump Rope Cardio video
  103. Coach Nicole's 10-Minute Jump Start Cardio video
  104. Coach Nicole's 10-Minute Cardio Kickboxing video

    Play Time
     
  105. Walking the dog
  106. Playing with your children
  107. Dodge ball
  108. Tag
  109. Hooping (hula hooping)
  110. Obstacle courses
  111. Jump rope
  112. Water games in a pool
  113. Playing with your dog
  114. Skipping
  115. Hop scotch
  116. Taking the stairs
  117. Jumping jacks
  118. Trampoline jumping (rebounding)

As you can see, there is no shortage of options! Have fun finding some new favorite cardio exercises from the list above. With this many choices, there's never an excuse to get bored or dread cardio ever again!

This article has been reviewed and approved by certified personal trainers Jen Mueller and Nicole Nichols.
Updated April 2017

 


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