Although running is considered one of the best cardio-vascular activities, it is not for everyone. Many people have trouble sticking to their workout schedule because of the endless, boring miles on the treadmill, or miss days due to poor weather.
Is running your only cardio choice? Nope! There are many other cardio exercises that can help you work up a sweat and benefit your heart. Here are some of the best cardio methods besides than running:
Jumping Jacks: Old School PE returns! Jumping jacks offer simple, total body exercise that has the added benefit of plyometrics – repeatedly contracting and stretching the hip and leg muscles makes them stronger. This video demonstrates proper jumping jack form:
Rope Skipping: Another childhood classic that’s good exercise for grownups. Rope skipping is a highly effective callisthenic activity for cardio exercise. You don't have to do fancy tricks, just set a steady pace with as little height as possible. Here’s a video to show you the basics:
Dancing: We're not talking about a romantic waltz, mind you! Dancing to upbeat music with energetic movements can give you a great cardio workout.
Stair Climbing: The stairs in your home or office can be a great tool in your alternative cardio arsenal. Maintain a brisk, but safe, pace as you walk up and down stairs, and keep a light grip on the rail. The incline of residential stairways is significant and a few trips up and downstairs will give you a great calorie burn, as well as a measure of lunge-type anaerobic exercise.
Aerobics: Jazzercise, Zumba, Tae Bo, and other classes that incorporate energetic motion and aerobic fitness, are great alternatives to running. Some classes also use light hand weights and body weight movements to increase heart rate and boost muscle-building.
Low-Impact Exercise Machines: Rowing machines, elliptical trainers, and gym-type step machines offer variable resistance to help you build stamina without the skeletal impact of running on road, track or treadmill. They’re expensive to buy for personal use, but community centers, work places and even some churches offer free or low-cost access to professional-grade exercise equipment.
If you find yourself growing bored with the same workout routine every session, consider switching to a different machine or technique periodically, to stay engaged and committed. Whatever alternative you may choose as your running replacement, be sure to learn proper form to avoid injury, and don't overdo new routines.