Spin class


6 cardio workout alternatives to running

by Harry 5 minutes read

Last updated: 10 May, 2022

Those who have felt the proverbial “runner’s high” will tell you that no other activity can compare to running. But if you’re at all like me, you’d rather do literally any other form of cardio.

Running is of course great for keeping in shape and testing our aerobic fitness, but for some people it becomes monotonous, especially if you don’t reach that ever-elusive runner’s high. If this is you, you’re in luck!

We’ve compiled a list of the best alternatives to running when you’re looking for a cardio boost!

6. Rowing

Rowing is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise that targets the back, core, quads, hamstrings, glutes, as well as the shoulders and the arms. As a result, it’s one of the best workouts possible. If your only option is the gym rowing machine, then go for it! 10-minutes there will leave you gasping for air and aching all over.

Alternatively, if you can get to a river or lake and hire a kayak, it’s an even better way to get the same workout benefits in a much more interesting and fun environment.

What’s more? Rowing is also very low impact, so it’s an ideal alternative for those recovering from an injury or looking for a low-impact cardio option.

Row Machine

5. Cycling

Cycling offers a great alternative to running. You can enjoy cycling at the gym or head outside on a nice day to get some exercise in the sun.

As another low impact exercise, cycling allows you to maintain and improve your fitness without the stress on your joints and shins.

If you’re looking for a more intense workout, try signing up for local spin classes and push your limits. Otherwise, you could try cycling to work - it’s great for your cardiovascular fitness and the environment at the same time.


4. Swimming

Swimming can push your body to the max with very little impact on your joints, so if you’re suffering from an impact injury, swimming is a fantastic exercise on the road to recovery.

Besides recovery, swimming is great for your cardiovascular system - The Journal of Applied Physiology found that swimming for an hour, 3 times a week for ten weeks can boost your VO2 max by 10 percent.

Swimming also targets almost every upper body muscle, making it a great alternative to low-weight resistance training.


3. Dancing

Dance classes are known to provide some of the toughest cardiovascular workouts going. If you can find a local dance class to go to, try booking an hour and see just how tough it really is. Dance classes are like HIIT sessions, with time practicing the choreography full out and rests between running through the movements more slowly.

No doubt an hour in even a beginner’s dance class will leave you out of breath and aching, so make sure you bring a full water bottle and get ready to sweat!

Dance class

2. Various Gym Machines

Any basic gym will offer plenty of machines to give you a cardio kick. Even if you’re looking to avoid the treadmill, there are some great options:

  • Elliptical
  • Step Machine
  • Rowing Machine
  • Cycling Machine

1. Sports Clubs

If you fancy a run around but would simply get too bored doing laps around the local park, then starting up a sport is a much more interesting and exciting alternative.

There will be plenty of clubs to choose from regardless of where you live. Most cities and towns will host an array of sports clubs from Tennis and Football to Badminton and American Football. Whether you’re looking for contact or non-contact sports, there’s options for everyone.

Besides the obvious cardio workout that most sports provide, they also come with a social benefit – providing an opportunity to make friends with an entirely new group of people. Most of those who play for a sports club will tell you that it almost becomes a second family.


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