Fitness Articles

Over 110 Cardio Workout Ideas

Limitless Options for Aerobic Exercise

You all probably know how great aerobic activity is for 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 extremely hard or miserable, and others just don't set aside the time to make it a priority. Both camps 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 (although those are great forms of aerobic activity if you like them!). 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% 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 10-20 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 3 days of cardio—with no more than 2 days off between sessions—per week. As you get stronger, you can work towards doing cardio 5 to 6 days a week.
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About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites, and A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

Member Comments

  • I can't work out the same as ten years ago, but I can't make the mistake of not trying. - 10/7/2015 9:26:43 AM
  • It would be nice if the people who write these articles would remember that not everyone can get their heart rate into any of the target zones. People who are on beta blockers fall into this category. The drug kicks in and suppresses the heart rate. I was on a beta blocker for several years, and there was no way I could get my heart rate anywhere near the target zone, and I worked out. - 10/1/2015 10:45:08 AM
  • It's important to revise our targeted heart rate numbers as we 'mature..... my THR at age 62 is a lot lower than it was at age 32 . . . . just saying...

    Keep that ol' ticker healthy! - 9/28/2015 1:09:45 PM
  • I've become more active and more aware of my goals and i'm finding more ways to stay fit and eat healthy taking advice and being my best cheerleader - 9/5/2015 7:34:14 PM
  • I did a mile of WATP and this afternoon took a brisk walk to the supermarket and back. - 8/29/2015 12:38:03 AM
  • So where was playing with your CAT? One of my toms is obsessed with fetching his toy if you toss it and the other loves to play with his feather and stick. - 8/17/2015 8:15:12 PM
    I have downloaded Youtube senior cardio videos onto my thumb-drive and have it plugged into my Smart TV. Generally I start with 2 cardio videos and then end with another for cooling down. Seems to work great and I have "cured" several problems include back pain since exercising this way. Still working on weight reduction, tho. - 8/7/2015 9:02:52 AM
  • I am glad Hip Hop Abs are on the list. Its cardio but even when I was 23 pounds heavier I could still do it. The music is great, Shawn T is clear with his instructions and you can follow a low impact routine until you get used to it, its been great for my belly!!! :) - 8/5/2015 2:31:45 PM
  • Once again, the implication is "if you aren't doing at least 10 minutes of exercise that elevates your heart rate into your target zone, then don't bother, because you're not really exercising". What about people who physically can't exercise for 10 minutes in their target heart rate zone? What about people who have physical limitations?
    I know I'm talking to the wall. - 8/5/2015 12:42:54 PM
    My favorite cardio exercises is Zumba and Dance Fitness. - 7/29/2015 1:00:10 AM
  • My workouts are mainly done in 10 chunks (commute and desk job). Since the Walkabout Challenge, I take work breaks, set the timer on my phone for 10 min and walk inside around the building. On nice days, I'll go outside; its about a 8-9 min walk around the office building outside. If I go completely around (including the parking lot), its a 12-13 min walk.

    On days off and holidays, I aim for 30 or more consecutive minutes.

    The Walkabout Challenge broke my ALL or NOTHING attitude and help me hit a 100+day fitness streak.

    Next stop 200 days! - 7/16/2015 9:21:04 AM
    I like games that distract me from noticing that I'm exercising. One gadget I use is Goji Play. With an iPad and my elliptical, I can play video games while I pedal. Another fav for me is walking fast with friends, gabbing away, catching up. An hour later and I'm all caught up and I've done 60 mins of cardio! - 7/1/2015 4:13:32 PM
    Nice Post! Here is another great resource for Reviews of Top Weight Loss Programs online: http://eweightlos
    t-reviews - 6/29/2015 12:39:37 AM
  • JEANW2
    Thanks for giving me some good "exercise" ideas. But mostly thanks for reminding me to keep moving at least 10 minutes. - 6/3/2015 4:33:51 PM
  • NAN13155
    So why are there no calorie charts for housework? If bed changing is good as cardio, why no option on the exercise choices? - 6/2/2015 5:48:02 AM

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