Short for cardiovascular, cardio is a type of workout that exercises the body’s aerobic system. This is comprised of the heart, lungs and blood vessels. For this reason, it is also beneficial for the heart, and it improves circulation too.

The most effective way to integrate cardio into your daily routine is by performing at least three 20-minute sessions each week. And according to the American College of Sports Medicine, your heart rate should be between 60 and 90 percent of its capacity for visible results to start showing.

Alternatives to Cardio

One of the most popular types of cardio surely has to be running. And although there are plenty of advantage to this activity, it’s not suitable for everyone. In addition, running is a high-impact exercise which can lead to joint pain, collapsed arches and other unwanted complications, when pursued incorrectly.

All in all, running simply won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s perfectly fine. Luckily, for those people out there who just aren’t fans of going on a jog, there are plenty of other great cardio alternatives. Here are the three best ones.

1.      Cycling

As we’ve established above, running isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, something as simple and classic as going on a bike ride can provide the body with similar benefits due to comparable amounts of heart engagement and exerted effort. Thus, for people who aren’t afraid of a challenging activity, cycling is the perfect choice.

It’s a great sport for building both strength and endurance. Training yourself to cycle faster ups the intensity of the workout and deliver better results faster. Nevertheless, if you want to take it slow, you can also do that. A bike is a rather versatile instrument that you can approach in any way you find fitting for your needs and preferences.

Furthermore, it’s something that can be pursued all year round, both outdoors and indoors alike. When the weather is warm and pleasant, going for a pedal in the park or on a trail is a true treat. Then, when the colder seasons take hold, you can hit the gym or get your own stationary bike just as well.

However, it should be noted at this point that cycling indoors is slightly different from its outdoors counterpart. To accomplish similar progress, you need to find out more about spinning workout and see how you can tailor it to maintain your fitness goals.

2.      Rowing

In a similar manner to cycling, rowing is another type of physical activity that can take place either outdoors or at the gym. For the former, the answer is rather straightforward. All you need are a boat, some oars and a sufficiently large body of water. Your local lake most likely rents them out by the hour, so if it’s sunny outside, you could give it a try.

Of course, rowing can also be pursued professionally as a sport. This won’t suit everybody, but if it’s something you find pleasure in, then it’s a viable option. Nevertheless, if that’s not for you, you can also go to your local gym and attain a comparable outcome by using one of the specialized machines there, namely the rowing machine.

The advantages of getting your cardio in on a rowing machine are many. First of all, it increases your muscle activation, which is valuable for burning calories faster even after your session has ended. The device also allows you to practice high-intensity interval training or HIIT for short. Regardless of how many calories you burn, you will still receive a full-body workout.

In addition to this, it’s also as easy on the joints as cycling, but a lot more engaging and fat burning. Therefore, if your fitness goals include losing weight, rowing might be the better choice. Why, might you ask? Well, because it’s more efficient in this area even when performed at lower intensities, whereas the opposite is true in the case of cycling.

3.      Swimming

Have you ever wondered why there are swimming classes for people of all ages? Everyone from toddlers to the elderly seems to enjoy this sport, and there’s a solid reason behind that. Swimming is a classic low-impact exercise which operates on training every single body part, shaping it beautifully in the process.

Not only does it fully engage the aerobic system and provides you with a healthy dose of cardiovascular exercise, but it also improves flexibility, builds endurance and develops strength. Your bones will have better density, and your lungs will be sturdier as well.

And, of course, just like all the other alternatives on this short informative list, it can also be pursued all year round. If you live in a decently sized city or have one nearby, chances are you will have access to both indoors and outdoors pools. What is more, if you’re lucky enough to go on a seaside vacation, you can also try it there.

When it’s warm outside, enjoying the sun on a swim is a great combination of an enjoyable pastime and an effective workout. And when winter comes, you won’t have to put an end to your training. Indoor pools are fully equipped to handle your needs during this time, so find one in your area and get started.

Final Thoughts

Although running is many people’s preferred form of cardio, there are also other viable and enjoyable alternatives for those people who would favor something else. Cycling, rowing and swimming all work amazingly as substitutes, and they can also be performed all year round due to their transferability from the great outdoors straight into the gym or sports center.

Depending on what your preferences are, you will most likely choose one and stick with it. Nevertheless, if you’re a devout athlete by nature, you might find that a combination of them delivers incredible results. At the end of the day, deciding what to do is up to you.

Written by Luke Mitchell