When most people think of cardiovascular/cardio exercises, the first activities that come to mind are running, cycling, or swimming. But what if you can’t get outside for a daily run or don’t feel like hitting the gym? There are still plenty of cardio exercises you can do at home.
Yes, these are great ways to get your heart rate up, but not everyone enjoys them. Cardio should be a key part of your healthy lifestyle. Luckily, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach.
If you’re looking to incorporate more cardio into your exercise routine, don’t be intimidated by the seasoned marathon runners you see around your neighborhood. Heart-healthy workouts don’t have to involve spending hours on the treadmill. There are plenty of fun and creative ways to get your cardio in and actually enjoy it.
People do not need a lot of equipment for cardiovascular exercise. Instead, they can take part in cardio training at home by working their own body weight.
Regular cardio exercise can also help you lose weight, get better sleep, and reduce your risk for chronic disease.
What is Cardio?
The first thing you need to know is what is cardio? Cardiovascular/cardio exercise, also known as cardio or aerobic exercise, is essential for good health. It gets your heart rate up, making you blood pump faster. This delivers more oxygen throughout your body, which keeps your heart and lungs healthy.
The following are a list of some of the best cardio workouts that you can add to your exercise regiment without having to leave your home. Doing a quick cardio workout at home is more accessible than you might think. It is efficient, offers convenience, and you may even save money. Luckily, a good cardio workout doesn’t have to require a ton of space or fancy equipment.
Think outside the box and try something new with these fun cardio exercise. The key to sticking with any successful workout plan is discovering an activity that you enjoy.
Chances are, you haven’t jumped rope since 4th grade recess. If that’s the case, go get yourself a jump rope today! This form of cardio can be done just about anywhere. Turn up your favorite playlist and jump to the beat. Tossing your jump rope in a backpack, suitcase, or purse will help you squeeze in your 150 minutes of exercise per week whenever you have some spare time.
These exercises can form a cardiovascular exercise program.
For example, a person could do each exercise for 45 seconds to 1 minute, rest for 30 seconds, and move on to the next set.
As their fitness levels increase, people may wish to perform these exercises in circuits.
Jogging in place
Jogging in place is a simple and effective exercise to increase heart rate. This is also a suitable beginner warm-up activity.
To perform, bounce lightly from one foot to the other. At the same same, swing the arms from side to side.
This exercise involves running in place, so you can do it anywhere with minimal space.
- Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides.
- Lift one knee toward your chest. Lower your leg and repeat with the other knee.
- Continue alternating knees, pumping your arms up and down.
Burpees might be the dread of CrossFit pros, but they do provide a killer cardio workout in a short period of time. You do not need any equipment or a lot of space, making them a great cardio workout at home. To do a burpee, alternate between a plank position and jumping forward in the air. Make sure that your hands are flat on the ground and your back straight. In just 10 minutes, you can burn more than 100 calories. We recommend starting slow and working your way up to 10 minutes or more to avoid injury.
What: Repeatedly jumping the feet wide while circling the arms overhead, then back again
Why: Jumping jacks burn about 100 calories in 10 minutes and no special equipment or skills are needed.
Requirements: A good pair of shoes, a healthy heart
Precautions: Jumping jacks are high impact, which may tax the joints. They may also remind you of elementary or high school gym class traumas.
Variations: Plyo-jacks (squatting then jumping in the air), stepping the feet out rather than jumping, holding a medicine ball, push-up jacks (jumping the legs together while doing push-ups)
How to: Start in a squat (feet under shoulders, toes facing forward, thighs parallel to floor) with torso upright and hands clasped in front of chest. Press through feet to straighten legs and jump up off the floor while swinging straight arms behind body. Land back in a squat position. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps, then immediately continue on to your next move (you’re doing six to eight total). When you’ve completed all of your exercises, rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Then, repeat twice more for a total of three rounds.
Alternating Reverse Lunge
Start in standing position, with hands clasped in front of chest, then step left leg straight back and drop down to a lunge position, legs bent at 90-degree angles. Push through right heel to return left leg to start. Repeat on other side. Continue to alternate between left and right legs, going as fast as possible.
A person can perform arm circles while sitting or standing, making them ideal for all skill levels.
- Rotate the arms in a circular motion, both clockwise and counterclockwise. The movement may resemble a butterfly or backstroke.
- If a person has limited mobility in their arms, they can extend their arms to their sides and draw small circles. return left leg to start. Repeat on other side. Continue to alternate between left and right legs, going as fast as possible.
Butt kicks are the opposite of high knees. Instead of lifting your knees up high, you’ll lift your heels up toward your butt.
- Stand with your legs together and arms at your sides.
- Bring one heel toward your butt. Lower your foot and repeat with the other heel.
- Continue alternating your heels and pumping your arms.
Running the Stairs
Another cardio exercise at home is stair running, as long as you have some stairs nearby. Stair workouts help you build strength and power in your lower body and gets the heart rate pumping. Challenge yourself with mini intervals by alternating between a regular stair run and sideways stair run to burn more calories even after your workout. Make sure you have the best workout shoes for men so you can also perform some stair exercises if you have a single stair somewhere, or if you purchase a special stepping stool for exercising like the Tone Fitness Aerobic Stepper or The Step Original Aerobic Platform.
What: Running the knees in and out from a push-up position.
Why: Mountain climbers raise the heart rate while building strength and endurance in the core. No special skills are needed.
Requirements: Strong wrists
Precautions: This exercise can tax the wrists, arms, and shoulders, as well as the core.
Variations: Alternate jumping each foot forward and back; use sliding discs, paper plates or towels; combine them with other exercises such as burpees, push-ups, or planks
How to: Start in a low plank with forearms on the floor and parallel, elbows under shoulders. Pick up right forearm and press through palm to extend arm straight. Then, repeat with left to come into a high plank, keeping hips as level as possible. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps, alternating which arm you start with, then immediately continue on to your next move (you’re doing six to eight total). When you’ve completed all of your exercises, rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Then, repeat twice more for a total of three rounds.
Start on all fours then lower onto your forearms and step both feet back into a forearm plank with elbows directly beneath shoulders, and core engaged so body forms a straight line parallel to floor. Hold, activating your core and glutes and keeping back straight.
Screamer lunges help build leg muscles while challenging the heart.
- Stand with the feet hip-width apart.
- Extend the right leg back to a lunge position.
- Push off with the right foot to lift the right knee to hip height, jumping in the air while doing so.
- Return the right foot to the starting position and repeat for 10 lunges on one side.
- Repeat for the left leg.
Doing the crab walk is a fun way to get your blood flowing. It also strengthens your upper arms while working your back, core, and legs.
- Sit on the floor, knees bent and feet flat. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders, fingers pointing forward.
- Lift your hips off the floor. “Walk” backward using your arms and legs, keeping your weight evenly distributed between your arms and legs.
- Continue walking backward for the desired distance.
What: Punching, kicking, and combinations thereof against a bag, the air, or (risky) another person
Why: Kickboxing can burn more than 100 calories in 10 minutes at the right intensity, requires no equipment, and can help you get out your aggressions.
Requirements: Basic knowledge of kicks and punches
Precautions: Extending the arms and legs all the way during punches and kicks can stress the joints.
Variations: Endless combinations of kicks, punches, or both
Bear Plank Shoulder Tap
Bear Plank Shoulder TapHow to: Start in bear plank, with shoulders over wrists and knees under hips and elevated a few inches off of mat. Keeping back flat and shoulders and hips stable, lift left hand up off mat and bend at elbow to tap right shoulder with it. Replace left hand, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps, then immediately continue on to your next move (you’re doing six to eight total). When you’ve completed all of your exercises, rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Then, repeat twice more for a total of three rounds.
Start in a high plank position with hands directly beneath shoulders, and core and glutes engaged so body forms a straight line parallel to the floor. Lower each elbow to ground to drop into a forearm plank. “Walk” each hand back up to return to high plank position. Repeat.
How to: Start in bear plank, with shoulders over wrists and knees under hips and elevated a few inches off of mat. Step left hand and right foot forward at the same time, followed by right hand and left foot. Keep back flat and hips stable. Take three steps forward, then three steps backward. That’s one rep. Perform 10 reps, then immediately continue on to your next move (you’re doing six to eight total). When you’ve completed all of your exercises, rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Then, repeat twice more for a total of three rounds.
The inchworm is a full-body exercise that improves mobility and tests shoulder strength.
- Start in a standing position, reach down and touch the toes briefly before walking the hands out to a pushup position.
- Perform a pushup, then walk the feet toward the hands and lift the hips upwards, similar to the downward dog position.
- Inch the feet as close as possible toward the hands before walking the hands out to return to the pushup position.
This exercise is like a horizontal jumping jack. It forces your arms to support your weight as you quickly move your legs.
- Start in a plank with your hands under shoulders and your body straight. Bring your feet together.
- Jump and spread your legs wider than shoulder width.
- Jump back to a plank and repeat.
Push-Up to Knee Touch
Start in a high plank position with wrists directly under shoulders, core and glutes engaged so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Bend elbows to lower chest to floor to perform a push-up. Press back up to high plank, then bend left knee to touch right palm. Return left foot and right hand to start and repeat the push-up. Touch right knee to left palm. Continue to repeat.
Plank ski hops
Plank ski hops, also called plank skiers, combine planks and rotational jumps. The turning movement of the jump will challenge your strength and endurance.
- Start in a plank with your hands under your shoulders and your body straight. Bring your legs together.
- Jump your feet to the right, rotating to bring your knees outside your right elbow. Keep your legs together.
- Jump back into a plank. Repeat on the left side.
Quadruped Hold to Shoulder Tap
Start on all fours with wrists directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips, legs bent to 90 degrees. Using your core, lift knees up to hover about six inches above floor (also called a bear plank). Draw right hand to tap left shoulder. Return right hand to floor, then use left hand to tap right shoulder. Continue to repeat.