June 14, 2024
Cardio Alternatives to Running

Doing cardio exercise regularly enables your heart to pump faster. It keeps you sound and healthy. So, throughout your lifespan, you won’t have to deal with any major cardiac diseases. You’ll surely find running the most common cardio exercise.

It enables an inexpensive, flexible, and easy-to-go process as your workouts. It’s much more effective if you can run for at least 10-15 minutes per day. It lessens the threat of cardiovascular disease. Most importantly, it drags you out of stress very quickly. Over time, running competitions like marathons have become so popular all over the world among concerned people. 

See, despite running being the common workout, you can’t perform every healthy exercise just by running. Also, sticking to one form can be so monotonous. That’s why you should look for alternatives as well.

So, what are the top alternatives to running for cardio? I’ve found three major zones for exercise: gym, outdoor, and home activities. You’ll find walking, cycling, and hiking very inexpensive for picking instead of running. Also, rowing, stair climbing, etc., are effective for your gym training. You can rely on jumping ropes, jacks, and burpees as your flexible home activities. 

Now, it’s time to uncover all of them and show you deeper insights into cardio exercise.

15 Alternatives to Running for Cardio [Effective Workouts]

It’s time to explore all the alternatives to running for cardio, adding up enough value to the workout. I’ve split the alternative types into three: Gym, home, and outside workouts. 

For the Gym

  1. Rowing

Rowing is beneficial for your cardiovascular health. This low-impact workout also enhances endurance and tone muscles. A rowing machine or boat can be an ideal option to start with!

  1. Elliptical

An elliptical machine is a great add-on to your home-based cardio workouts. Coming with two pedals that drive in an elliptical way and allow your legs back and forth in a fluid motion.

  1. Stair Climbing

Stair climbing connects the big muscle groups to your legs and glutes. It can be an excellent alternative to running as it has no impact on the joints. But still, stair climbing is an ideal high-intensity workout.

  1. Swimming

Swimming involves your arms and legs moving through the water. You can get better at it by altering the utilized strokes, swim speed, distance, etc.

  1. Indoor Cycling

It’s a closed-distant challenge for you with lots of fun. Indoor cycling is popular for group workout training as well. Make sure your bike is fitted with adjustable resistance levels.

For Outside

  1. Walking

Wanna burn calories faster along with cardio exercise? Then, what can be better than walking? It also lets you enjoy nature, and make connections with different people. 

  1. Biking

You can start biking with your stationary bike. This versatile workout makes your leisure ride a valuable workout. It’s an eco-friendly method of exercise too.

  1. Hiking

If you want extreme adventure simultaneously, then hiking can be the best option. Explore forests, mountains, and long trails. Alongside your cardio benefits, it’ll keep you motivated, fresh, and hardworking as well.

  1. Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding add a great thrill to your cardio workouts which you wouldn’t find running. These are also weight-bearing exercises bolstering the bones and muscles.

  1. Outdoor Cycling

To integrate your lower body parts including legs, glutes, and hips, outdoor cycling has no competition. It’s quite enjoyable and inexpensive. Spending around 100 minutes per week can be a good start. Gradually, you may increase the duration.

For Home

  1. Dancing

Many people can’t relate to how dancing is a good replacement for running! It increases your heart rate and quickens your breathing. You may listen to your favorite tracks and keep dancing for at least an hour. Nobody’s judging! 

  1. Rebounding

Rebounding helps to improve your muscle endurance and integrate the bones. Over time, it gets huge popularity for its gentleness on the joints.

  1. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are an incredibly flexible cardiovascular exercise that can be performed anywhere! Simply, start this with your feet hip-width apart and arms down. You can boost up the exercise intensity by jumping lofty or quicker.

  1. Jump Roping

Nothing can beat jumping rope as the starter of your cardiovascular workouts. Initially, you may jump one foot above at a time. Gradually, you should learn how to jump on both feet.

  1. Burpees

Burpees have an incredible value for your heart pumping. This workout starts with a pushup posture. If you want to increase the difficulty level, you may use a device named Bosu Ball.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cardio Workout

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cardio Workout

Cardio workouts are not just about starting suddenly and getting going! A few factors matter a lot when you make up your mind about workouts! 

Health conditions

If you’re already dealing with health issues, don’t rush for starting workouts. Let’s say, you struggle with joint issues. Then, choosing a low-impact or light exercise can be a good option to start with! 

Swimming and cycling are some easy-to-go exercises among them. On the other hand, while you’re facing heart or respiratory-based problems, lower intense workouts are preferable for you!

Personal preferences

At the end of the day, your own satisfaction is the key to success. Without this, you can’t have this training for so long. To keep yourself motivated and make progress, plan a fitness goal. Add some run-ups, dancing sessions, and whatnot before switching to another workout type!

Availability of equipment or gym membership

You’ll see some of the cardio exercises require some specialized tools and equipment. Having a stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical machine, etc., are the elementary tools to get! 

Also, you may find some products unavailable on the market too. To solve these cases, you have to get a membership in a gym center. Get a personal trainer or start with a group of fitness enthusiasts.


Cardio workouts often come expensive. The gym facilities or equipment that you require are quite costly to get. First of all, decide whether you want home cardio exercise or get into a gym! Both ways demand a cost-expensive deal. 

Usually, getting a gym membership is around $20 and $60 per month. On top of this, you’ll be requiring supplements, medicines, and other suggested items to buy. 

On the other hand, starting a workout from home asks you to have a treadmill and other basic machines. So, the better way is to walk outside, do bodyweight exercises, and watch online free videos at the very beginning. 

That’s how you can save up a lot of money. Once you get into the track properly, it’s better to buy some basic machines for your home or get a membership in a gym center. I suggest you do not spend too much money initially!

How to Make the Most of Cardio Workout

How to Make the Most of Cardio Workout

Plenty of things you need to improve for making the most of a cardio workout. Let’s discuss the core things below:

Setting goals and tracking progress 

You must have clear goals before jumping into the cardio workout sessions. Try to enhance your steadiness. Also, you need to work on boosting your speed. Don’t be so idle, rather enhance the speed from day 1. After a few days, you’ll see the overall progress has been fantastic. 

Set a target of how many calories you want to burn. Set a deadline for that too! It undoubtedly helps you in the long run and gives you the courage to accomplish the challenge. Every day, try to focus on tracking progress. This will make you self-motivated and you’ll grow accountability in your mind. Utilizing a fitness care application on your smartphone finely does the job! 

Varying the workouts to prevent boredom

Doing it at the same time has always been boring, isn’t it? The same rule goes for your workout too! Make a full stop to that! See, what alteration or modification you can bring to the cardio session. So, try to catch up on new things. 

Running for a while in between your cardio workout shows a better result. You may try cycling, jumping, swimming, and whatnot! Carrying these activities will reduce plateaus and you can see progress with your naked eyes. 

Incorporating strength training

Aside from your cardiovascular fitness workouts, you may incorporate strength training. This particular task can build your muscle in the right direction. Also, it brings out your metabolism to the maximum. As a result, you won’t get injured so often. On top of these, add the traditional bodyweight exercises too. Including, you should work on weightlifting, resistance training, etc. 

Make sure that you’ve got a proper form or technique to use. Being this clever will prevent all sorts of unexpected injuries. Take time to give your body rest and recovery. As a result, your body will soon get repaired and rebuilt with muscular tissues. 

Staying hydrated and fueled

Successfully doing cardio workouts requires as many fluids as possible to carry with you. Make sure you place the water in the first place! At least 3-8 ounces of fluid you need after every 15-20 minutes. 

So, no chance to become dehydrated! Sports drinks and juicy fruits can be good fluid. The more you sweat the more fluid you need to consume. Institute of Medicine suggests-

Fluid Requirement for Adult MaleFluid Requirement for Adult Female
100-ounce glasses/day70-ounce glasses/day

Tips for an Effective Workout at Home

Alternatives to Running for Cardio

Proper Technique 

Without adapting the proper form of exercise, you’ll be in the wrong queue no matter how much you invest time. Watching some videos online, and reaching out to professional guidance are some easy steps to get the process correct. So, don’t feel left alone!

If you’re utilizing weights, try a lighter one first. Then, keep the weight gradually increasing. This trick will prevent injuries and integrate your strength. Also, never forget to breathe profoundly throughout the workout.  

Adequate Warm-up & Cool-Down 

Doing warm-ups or stretching your muscles up a bit is very crucial before getting into the main workout. You may try jumping jacks, skipping, or jogging as an initial start. And finally, cooling down at the end is vital too. As a result, you won’t face unwanted muscle soreness and inflexibility. 

Variety of Exercises 

Mix different workouts up so that boredom might not catch you! Switch your schedule between strength exercise, cardio, and flexibility training.

Also, don’t get confused about whether you need expensive training equipment! Simply, avoid these and continue practicing with push-ups, squats, lunges, etc. Every day, take on new challenges and be concerned about timing. You should increase the exercise duration gradually. 

Wear gym clothes

It may sound light but carries a great impact on your workout. You should always wear athletic clothes during your workout routines. Coming in this manner makes you prepared mentally and physically for the upcoming challenge. And you get involved with workouts very easily. 

Get updated with new workouts through applications

You can barely avoid the impact and usability of smartphones. To make your workout easier and keep you involved with this, some applications might be useful for you. 

These two apps are currently the most effective ones for your home workouts. You’ll get advice, and track through them regularly. So, no chance to miss out on your upcoming cardio workout! You can try out Spotify too! Create a free playlist of tracks full of energy-boosting; this really helps! 

Set realistic fitness goals 

Don’t jump into a workout at full speed too early. Starting slowly will make you fit into the system gradually. Dreaming bigger is definitely important. But chasing reasonable targets is more vital. 


Now, you’ve got a clear idea of the top alternatives to running for cardio. 

I’ve tried to emphasize the importance of picking the right workout for individual needs. 

Hopefully, you’ll explore them and get your own favorite. My tip is to try different workouts after a while. It’ll keep you motivated to continue in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some alternatives to running for cardiovascular exercise?

There are several alternatives to running for cardio, such as cycling, swimming, jump rope, dancing, and HIIT workouts.

Can cycling be a good alternative to running for cardio?

Yes, cycling is a great alternative to running for cardio as it provides similar cardiovascular benefits without the impact on joints.

Is swimming a good alternative to running for cardiovascular exercise?

Yes, swimming is an excellent low-impact alternative to running that engages multiple muscle groups and provides a full-body workout.

Can I use jump rope as a substitute for running for cardio?

Yes, jump rope is a fun and effective alternative to running for cardio as it elevates heart rate, improves coordination, and burns calories.

Is dancing a good option for cardiovascular exercise instead of running?

Yes, dancing can be a fun and enjoyable alternative to running for cardio, and it offers a wide range of styles and intensity levels to suit different preferences.

Can HIIT workouts be a suitable replacement for running for cardiovascular fitness?

Yes, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts can be an effective alternative to running for cardio, as they involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods, which can boost heart rate and burn calories.

Are there any low-impact alternatives to running for cardiovascular exercise?

Yes, besides swimming, other low-impact alternatives to running for cardio include using an elliptical machine, rowing, and brisk walking.

Can strength training be a substitute for running for cardiovascular health?

While strength training has its benefits, it may not be a direct replacement for running in terms of cardiovascular exercise as it primarily focuses on building muscle strength rather than aerobic fitness.

Can I combine different alternatives to running for a varied cardio workout?

Yes, incorporating a variety of alternative cardio exercises such as cycling, swimming, jump rope, dancing, and HIIT workouts can provide a well-rounded and engaging cardiovascular workout routine.

Can I modify or customize alternative cardio exercises to suit my fitness level?

Yes, you can tailor alternative cardio exercises to your fitness level by adjusting the intensity, duration, and frequency to meet your specific needs and goals. Always consult with a fitness professional before making significant modifications to your exercise routine.