Cardio activity is an important part of a regular workout routine. According to Cleveland Clinic, the benefits of cardio exercise include increased blood flow, improved thinking ability and enhanced blood sugar control. It also promotes weight loss and joint motion, and can protect against the development of Alzheimer's disease. While these activities take a lot of effort and energy – especially if you haven't done cardio in a while – the benefits are well worth it.
One of the most popular forms of cardio exercise is running. But running is one of those activities where you either love it or you hate it. And let's be honest – a lot of us don't enjoy pounding the pavement with sweating pouring down our faces. Luckily, running is not your only option when it comes to gaining the many benefits of cardio exercise.
If the idea of sprints and treadmills makes you want to stay home and forget working out altogether, try one of these six alternate activities:
1. Go for a swim
Now that the sun is out, consider going for a swim. Doing laps in a pool is a great way to get in your regular cardio without running a single step. Whether you use an outdoor or indoor pool, make sure that you are actively swimming, as opposed to just floating or lounging in the water.
Swimming is also a great option if you have knee problems. A lot of cardio involves high-impact activities, which can take a toll on your joints. Taking a swim is a good alternative for avoiding this type of pain.
2. Throw back with aerobics
You know those old VHS tapes that star women in leg warmers with permed hair? Aerobic routines aren't just retro – they're actually a really good cardio option, especially if you're looking for an activity you can do with friends. While VHS may be a thing of yesteryear, you can still find videos online that will help you work up a sweat to your favorite upbeat music. Leotards and side ponytails are optional.
3. Get on the spinning trend
You've probably seen the spin classes that are popping up everywhere. They use indoor cycling to create an intense workout, usually in 30 to 75 minute sessions, according to Greatist.
Sometimes spinning classes can be expensive. If you don't want to shell out the money for a professional experience, you can create your own spin session using a stationary bike at your gym. On a nice day, you may even go the more traditional route and go on a bike ride around your neighborhood.
4. Switch it up with circuit training
If you hate running because you become bored easily, you may experience the same problem with other cardio activities. To avoid this kind of burnout, the answer might be circuit training. This method is a combination of cardio and strength training which SHAPE reported can give you a turbo charged gym experience in as little as 30 minutes, perfect for days when you have a tight schedule. You can keep track of this short, but effective, workout with your favorite blue series Baby-G digital watch.
You can take professionally led classes or check out videos online to guide your workout.
5. Stay inside and row
Getting in a canoe, kayak or other water craft and propelling yourself around is a great cardio activity, but you may not have a body of water nearby. Luckily, indoor rowing machines are an easy alterative that you can find in most any gym. Rowing is a good activity for your arms and your heart that really gets your blood pumping.
6. Join a team
Whether your game is basketball, volleyball, softball or something entirely different, most team sports area good way to get in your cardio without spending hours on the treadmill. Consider joining a community league in your area. But keep in mind that if you want the activity to count as your cardio, it needs to involve actually movement. Golf, for example, is a great sport, but won't get your heart pumping.