More Than 110 Cardio Workout Ideas

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. The 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. Burpees
  9. Treadmill (walking or running)
  10. Kettlebells
  11. Interval training
  12. Sprinting
  13. Box jumps
  14. Battle ropes
  15. High knees
  16. Step-ups
  17. Plyometrics


    Household Chores

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


    The Great Outdoors

  37. Cycling
  38. Hiking
  39. Snowshoeing
  40. Downhill skiing
  41. Cross-country skiing
  42. Water skiing
  43. Wakeboarding
  44. Rock climbing
  45. Jogging / Running
  46. Power walking (brisk walking)
  47. Interval running
  48. Rollerblading
  49. Paddling a canoe
  50. Nordic walking
  51. Surfing
  52. Paddle boarding
  53. Swimming
  54. Water jogging/running
  55. Skateboarding
  56. Bleacher running
  57. Ice skating


    Sports

  58. Tennis
  59. Flag football
  60. Hitting balls at the driving range
  61. Soccer
  62. Hockey
  63. Basketball
  64. Lacrosse
  65. Boxing
  66. Volleyball
  67. Martial arts
  68. Kickboxing
  69. Kickball
  70. Karate
  71. Jiu-jitsu
  72. Racquetball


    Group Classes

  73. Spinning
  74. Step aerobics
  75. Jazzercise
  76. Zumba
  77. Bootcamp
  78. Power yoga (Ashtanga and/or Vinyasa)
  79. Salsa dancing
  80. Dance classes or lessons
  81. Cardio kickboxing
  82. Hi-lo floor aerobics
  83. Water aerobics
  84. BODYPUMP
  85. Pound
  86. Silver Sneakers
  87. Gliding
  88. Orangetheory Fitness
  89. BBG or PWR programs
  90. Barry's Boot Camp
  91. Hip-hop dance
  92. Sports conditioning
  93. Group boxing
  94. CrossFit
  95. Krav Maga
  96. StrollerStrides or StrollerFit classes
  97. Turbokick


    Play Time

  98. Walking the dog
  99. Run with the dog
  100. Playing with your children
  101. Dodgeball
  102. Tag
  103. Hooping (hula hooping)
  104. Obstacle courses
  105. Jump rope
  106. Water games in a pool
  107. Playing with your dog
  108. Skipping
  109. Hop scotch
  110. Taking the stairs
  111. Jumping jacks
  112. 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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Member Comments

Great information Report
Awesome...thanks! Report
Ideas I hadn't even considered! Report
For those who are used to chalking up 10,000 steps to make themselves feel better, you may not get it here; however, make no mistake, you are definitely doing the equivalent of those steps! Report
Some of these are cardio but don't involved a lot of the kinds of "step" movements that are easily detected by phone apps or devices like FitBit, Apple Watch etc. So then it seems discouraging to knock ourselves out silly doing some household chore for 20 or 30 minutes and then discover that the "tracker" claims we didn't do diddly squat - no steps, or other measured movement. Would be handy if SparkPeople tracker had more precise tracking option for the variations of household cleaning, with as many options as listed in the article. As it is, it's only stuff like "heavy cleaning" "moving boxes" "mowing" not really many categories. Report
Great article. Report
Thank you! Report
Mowing and house work tonight! Report
HOTPINKCAMARO49
It is healthy to do a lot of these activities! Report
thank you Report
When I hit my aerobic zone in hot humid or very cold weather I usually have to deal with some exercise induced asthma. Sometimes even some of the lower level wheezing concerns other people in the area. Report
Thank you Report
thank you Report


 

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.