So, you’re ready to start a cardio routine, but you’re not really sure where to begin?
That’s okay! Cardio can be tailored to fit your health needs through low-impact or high-impact exercises — the key is finding which is right for you. As always, be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a cardio routine to learn if you have any limitations or medical conditions that may prevent you from engaging in certain activities.
To help you find a bit of fitness inspiration, we’ve put together a list of 10 low-impact cardio exercises and 10 high-impact cardio exercises aimed to help you burn calories, improve stamina, sleep and heart health, boost energy and even reduce the risk of getting certain diseases!
If you’re looking for something that will boost your heart rate and burn calories without putting undue pressure on your joints or muscles, then low-impact cardio is it. Plus, relieving pressure on your joints while exercising can help prevent injury because it improves mobility if and when you do decide to try something more high-impact.
If you want to get your calorie-torching in without the pressure on your joints, then the elliptical is for you. Ellipticals boost your stamina, improve your balance, strengthen your muscles and burn body fat. Plus, they move muscles in both your upper and lower body, helping you get a full-body workout!
Hello, spin class! Stationary bikes are a popular choice for many, especially people who need a way to get in a solid cardio workout without pounding the pavement and hurting themselves. Many models come with guided workouts and sync with your phone to keep track of fitness gains automatically!
The pool is your friend if you want to avoid injury, exercise without the usual sweatiness involved and get the benefits of strengthening your body and burning those calories. Sign up for a pass to your local rec center and try doing laps. Or, if you’re not sure where to begin, consider joining a water aerobics class.
These interesting-looking machines are actually perfect for toning your back, legs and arms while simultaneously helping you get in your daily calorie-burn. Like any cardio routine, rowing also strengthens your heart and muscles, improves stamina and gives you a great all-around body burn.
Believe it or not, yoga is an excellent way to burn calories while also helping you strengthen your core, improve your balance, and tone your muscles. It’s also been linked to pain and stress relief and better sleep, and it can even help give you a mood boost!
Rock climbing is perfect for you if you have a bit more of an adventurous spirit and want to get in a solid burn. Rock climbing strengthens muscles and improves flexibility, plus the technical nature of it is great for mastering hand-eye coordination.
Build your endurance and muscle-strength by doing pilates, which emphasize posture, balance and flexibility. Pilates are also known to prevent and treat back pain and many can be done on the floor with just a mat.
If you’ve ever felt a bit winded after taking the stairs, then it’s time to familiarize yourself with the stair climber. You can set the machine to go as fast or slow as you’d like and slowly pick up the pace as your stamina improves. Whichever pace you go, you’ll quickly feel your heart rate pick up and the sweat beads forming in no time.
Head back to the 1990s when inline skates were all the rage for a fun cardio routine outside that provides an especially effective workout for your lower body and core as well as improves balance. If you’re more comfortable on roller skates, that’s fine, too! You’ll get the fitness benefits either way.
Lifting weights is critical for an effective overall workout routine. And adding in some movement boosts it to the cardio level! You can do a web search for suggested routines, or start with this extremely effective 40-minute video from Personal Trainer Heather Robertson.
If you want to quickly get your heart rate up, torch calories at a ridiculous rate and condition your cardiovascular system to high levels of stamina, then try high-impact cardio. While high-impact cardio does put more pressure on your joints and muscles, it also is a more efficient way to burn calories and, when done with proper levels of rest and recovery, is extremely beneficial to the health of your bones, muscles and heart.
There is pretty much no better exercise for burning calories fast than running, making it a popular choice for anyone who wants to shed weight fast.* The benefits of running are widespread and include a faster metabolism, stronger muscles and core strength, lower body fat percentages, more balanced cholesterol, even better sleep and cognition and reduced risks of cancer.
Jumping rope is not only fun, it’s also great for strengthening bone density and improving coordination. Also, because it increases the elasticity of your lower leg muscles, it can actually lead to a reduced risk of lower leg injuries as well.
Burpees may be tough, but they’re also an incredible full-body calisthenics workout that combines strength training with endurance training. Every rep works your entire body, placing them among the ultimate functional fitness options.
A challenging hike is one of the most effective high-intensity workouts, plus it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy fresh air and nature. Try out different trails to challenge yourself and work new muscle groups that change with the terrain.
Dancing is a great cardio routine for you if you don’t really want to think about the fact that you’re doing cardio. The movements increase strength for almost every muscle group, and it comes with the added benefits of better heart health, agility, flexibility and coordination.
HIIT alternates short periods of intense exercise with less intense recovery periods, taking your heart rate on an up-and-down journey that gives you just enough time to rest in between while simultaneously bringing you to the eventual point where you’ll be too exhausted to keep going.
If you want to feel truly empowered at the end of your workout, then kickboxing is just the thing for you. It borrows moves from martial arts and combines punching and kicking for an effective overall body workout that will have you feeling like you can conquer anything at the end.
You may remember these from grade school, but they’re not just for gym class! Doing jumping jacks every day gives you an effective all-over fat burn, and the fact that they can be done pretty much anywhere is an added convenience bonus.
Martial arts are an excellent way to learn self-defense tactics while simultaneously giving you a full-body, calorie-burning workout that’s fun and unique. Plus, they naturally increase your confidence and can be a great place to build camaraderie (and even make friends!) with your fellow classmates.
Want to feel like a kid again while also shedding pounds?* Then the trampoline is for you. Bouncing around on a trampoline boosts your coordination and motor skills and works your arms, legs, back, core, neck, you name it! Plus, it’s the kind of intense cardio that will likely have you laughing at the end.
Ultimately, the sky’s the limit when it comes to cardio, and with so many options out there, you can stay busy trying new things until you find what works for you all year long!
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.