Fitness Articles

Over 110 Cardio Workout Ideas

Limitless Options for Aerobic Exercise

Page 1 of 2
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.
Continued ›
Page 1 of 2   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

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

  • More workout videos please! It would be great if you had a program of workouts, 1-50, say, enumerated by difficulty and length of workout. We could do #1 for a week or so until confident, then progress to #2 etc. Some workouts especially for seniors with mobility issues pls? It would also be great if it were easier to cut straight to the workout videos without having to search around the site for them. - 5/21/2016 5:22:12 AM
  • I babysat my 2 year old grandson today for four hours and I am bushed! He runs everywhere and wants to show me every little thing there is. How I wish I could keep up with him. Mostly it was "Watch me! Watch me!" Which I did. He is such a sweetheart. - 5/13/2016 10:08:57 PM
  • This list is a good start. There are a lot more activities that are fun that can be added to it, too! But "cardio" means it is working the heart, and anything that is getting the heart pumping faster, rather than an anaerobic activity, is cardio, no matter if it's for 1 minute or 10 or 60. People who are sick or in physical therapy/recovery from serious illness have to start with very tiny steps to slowly build up, but those are STILL cardio, and still matter. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk. If you can't even do 2 minutes of sustained activity with your heart, you shouldn't feel bad and give up. "Cardio" is anything that works the heart - even gently that does not reach a certain target rate if your doctor does not recommend it - for whatever length of time you can do. Be proud if you did 30 seconds more than you could last week - that's progress! - 3/21/2016 7:33:49 PM
  • Great option to selection from to accumulate 30 or more minutes of cardio stimulating activities. - 3/13/2016 4:03:53 AM
  • Lots of choices here, today I did two 30 min HIITs one for lower and one for upper body. Not easy! - 3/11/2016 12:58:26 PM
  • You gave us plenty of choices. And variety, so I think it will keep us busy. Thank you for this article. - 2/8/2016 10:37:26 PM
  • The list is impressive, but try to find some correlation between the activity and the amount of benefit as a fitness activity anywhere on the internet for some of them. My guess is that some of these activities could be harmful over a long period of time. I know one house painter who developed carpal tunnel. - 1/12/2016 10:03:00 PM
  • Love the reminder of all the great options for cardio!! Thanks, think I will print them out!! :) - 1/1/2016 7:24:33 PM
  • I have to start slow, should I up my workout by 5 min a week or more. Right now I am at 20-30 min through out the day. - 11/7/2015 2:07:15 PM
  • 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

x Lose 10 Pounds by July 7! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.