Fitness Articles

Over 110 Cardio Workout Ideas

Limitless Options for Aerobic Exercise

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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.

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. Hip hop dance
  81. Sports conditioning
  82. CrossFit
  83. Krav Maga
  84. StrollerStrides or StrollerFit classes
  85. Turbokick

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

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

See? There's 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.

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Member Comments

  • Ready to go and HIIT it!!

    God bless & be encourage.

    Dee
  • Only walking today. Upset stomach last night.
  • Great list thanks!
  • Try to get some aerobic exercise everyday, all different sorts.
  • I would say I was playing devil's advocate, but I'm really starting to get convinced that this is undeniable fact. If you gained and maintained the weight you want to lose while doing the same amount of daily chores that you still do, they should not count. Unless it's over and above what you did during the "growing" period, it's not additional calories burned. You have to burn *more* calories than you did while gaining and maintaining obesity status. I think it's a disservice to include these things on a list without noting that. Just because you enter the weekly car wash in the activity tracker doesn't help you lose one ounce if you have always done a weekly car wash. If you just started doing it, then it counts as exercise, but if it's a chore you've always done, you're just kidding yourself by counting it now.
  • I would love to learn hula hooping or some type of dance. One of my goals this year!
  • Great Blog. Thanks for reminding us.
  • I don't understand how "time can be cumulative" if it takes 11.5 minutes for me to get my heart rate up to 55-60% of max. That sounds like a MINIMUM of 20 minutes each session (and that was work my leg muscles complained about - stationary bike, about 16mph average, interval program). I suspect that while most of my body's out of shape, my heart's just FINE and dandy... :)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Great option to selection from to accumulate 30 or more minutes of cardio stimulating activities.
  • Lots of choices here, today I did two 30 min HIITs one for lower and one for upper body. Not easy!
  • You gave us plenty of choices. And variety, so I think it will keep us busy. Thank you for this article.

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. 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.

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