Practical Exercises: How to Improve Cardio Without Running

Do you want to get in shape but don’t want to run? But how to improve cardio without running? You can improve your cardiovascular fitness without running by doing other exercises that are fun and effective. This article will discuss some activities to help get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular health!

Why Is Cardio Workout Important?

Cardio without running

Cardiovascular exercise is vital for many reasons. It helps to:

➤Improve Heart Health

Regular cardio workouts help to strengthen the heart muscle and lower your resting heart rate. It means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body, which reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

➤Burn Calories

Cardio workouts help you to burn calories and lose weight. Including regular cardio workouts as part of your weight loss regimen is an excellent way to speed up the process and get you to where you want to be.

➤Boost Energy Levels

Regular cardio exercise can help to increase your energy levels. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting and pain-relieving effects.

➤Improve Brain Function

As you get older, your memory and other cognitive functions may deteriorate. On the other hand, cardiovascular exercise improves brain function and protects against age-related cognitive decline. The increased blood flow to the brain during a cardio workout helps improve brain function.

➤Improve Sleep Quality

Exercising might be helpful if you have trouble sleeping or if the quality of your sleep is poor. Cardio exercise helps improve sleep quality and allows people to fall asleep more easily. It is because exercise helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Classification of Cardiovascular Exercise

There are different levels of intensity for different types of cardio exercises. The three levels of cardio exercise are:

👉Low-Intensity Cardio

This type of cardio exercise is also known as “fat-burning” or “steady-state” cardio. It involves exercising moderately for an extended period, usually 30 minutes or more. During low-intensity cardio, your heart rate should be 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.

Examples of low-intensity cardio exercises include walking, jogging, and biking.

👉High-Intensity Training 

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a cardio activity that switches between high and low interval training periods. HIIT workouts are usually shorter than other types of cardio, as they are quite intense. During a HIIT workout, your heart rate should be 80-95% of your maximum heart rate.

An example of a HIIT workout would be to sprint for about 30 seconds, followed by a 60-second recovery period. During a workout, you would perform this movement several times.

👉Sprint Interval Training (SIT)

SIT is similar to HIIT but involves shorter high-intensity exercise intervals, usually lasting 20 seconds or less. Sprint interval training is a very intense type of cardio exercise and is not suitable for beginners. During SIT, your heart rate should be 95-100% of your maximum heart rate.

An example of an SIT workout would be to sprint for 20 seconds, followed by a 60-second recovery period.

How to Improve Cardio Without Running: 12 Effective Exercise

Cardio without running

There are other activities besides running that can help improve your cardiovascular fitness. Many other exercises can help get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular health.

Here are some of the best cardio workouts that you can do without running:


Boxing involves repeated movements that raise your heart rate and get you sweating. Additionally, it is an excellent method for relieving stress. It’s not necessary to join a boxing gym to reap the benefits of this workout; you can do it at home with a punching bag or even shadowboxing.

To do this:

  • You should be standing with your feet about the width of your shoulders apart and your hands in fists.
  • Raise your right hand and punch forward, then quickly bring it back to starting position.
  • Repeat with your left hand.
  • Perform this action for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Tip: If you are new to boxing, you may want to start with a lighter punching bag.


Swimming is an excellent way to do cardio without running because it works all of the major muscle groups in your body. It is also low-impact, so it is easy on your joints.

To do this:

  • Jump into the pool and begin swimming laps.
  • If you are new to swimming, you can start by doing a few laps of the pool, then build up to swimming for a longer period.

Tip: Try different strokes to mix and work for different muscle groups.

✔️Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is a great cardio workout because it is easy to do and requires no equipment. It also helps to tone your legs and arms. Jumping rope is a great workout to do at home or when you are traveling. It doesn’t require much space so you can do it anywhere.

To do this:

  • Place your hands at your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Holding the rope in both hands, swing it over your head and under your feet.
  • Jump when the rope reaches your feet, then land on both feet with soft knees.
  • Continue for 30 seconds to one minute.

Tip: Start with a slow rope to get the hang of it, then increase the speed as you become more comfortable.


Calisthenics is a physical activity involving using your body weight as a source of resistance. It is a great option if you don’t have access to weights or other equipment. You can do calisthenics anywhere, making it an excellent choice for when you are traveling or working out at home.

To do this:

  • Start with a basic workout, such as push-ups, sit-ups, and squats.
  • As your comfort level with the movements increases, you’ll be able to progress to more difficult exercises like pull-ups and handstands.
  • Perform three to five sets of each workout, pausing for a rest period of thirty seconds to one minute in between each set.

Tip: In calisthenics and bodyweight exercises, a perfect form is a key to avoiding injury.


A plank is a form of isometric exercise that helps to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. It is an excellent method for enhancing both your balance and your stability. Combining that with a motion that will exercise your arms and legs is possible. Among the common plank, variations are the side plank, forearm plank, and push-up plank.

To do this:

  • Begin by lying on your stomach, elbows bent and palms flat on the ground.
  • Push off the ground, keep your back straight, and raise yourself into a plank position.
  • Maintain this stance for 30 seconds to a minute.

Tip: If you find it difficult to hold the plank position for long, you can try doing shorter sets with more rest in between.

✔️Machine Cardio

You can use many machines for cardio, such as a treadmill, elliptical machine, rowing machine, or stair climber. These machines are common in most gyms. They are a great way to get your heart rate up and give you a good workout.

To do this:

  • Start by doing a warm-up on the machine for five minutes.
  • Then, increase the intensity and do intervals for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Start with one minute of high intensity, then one minute of low intensity.
  • Repeat this cycle for the duration of your workout.

Tip: If you are new to using a particular machine, ask a staff member for help getting started.


Hiking is an excellent way to get cardio without running while also enjoying the outdoors. It is a low-impact activity, so it is easy on your joints. Hiking is possible anywhere as long as there are trails.

To do this:

  • Find a trail that is appropriate for your fitness level.
  • To begin, walk for 20 to 30 minutes at a pace that is comfortable for you.
  • As you begin to feel more at ease with the activity, you may choose to increase the difficulty by walking at a faster pace or uphill.

Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle on your hike.

✔️Beach Volleyball

Try playing beach volleyball if you are on the beach and want to have some cardio without running. It is an excellent way to increase your heart rate while having fun. You can play beach volleyball with just a few people or in a large group.

To do this:

  • Set up a net on the beach and divide into teams.
  • Start playing and have fun!

Tip: If you are not used to playing volleyball, start with a lower net, so it is easier to hit the ball.

✔️Jumping Jacks

It may be familiar to you since this was a common exercise in physical education classes when you were younger. You can bring your heart rate up quickly and effectively by jumping jacks, and you can do these exercises nearly anywhere. It is also great to warm up your muscles before a workout.

To do this:

  • Start by standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  • Jump up and bring your arms over your head while spreading your legs to the sides of your body.
  • Return to your starting position and repeat.

Tip: If you find doing a full jumping jack difficult, you can try doing a mini jump instead.

✔️Farmer’s Walk

The farmer’s walk is an exercise that works your whole body, especially your core and shoulders. It is a great way to build strength and improve your balance. You can perform this exercise with dumbbells, kettlebells, or even just two water bottles if you want.

To do this:

  • To begin, stand up straight and position your feet approximately shoulder-width apart.
  • Pick up the weights and hold them at your sides with your palms facing them.
  • Then, walk forward for a short distance before turning around and walking back to the starting position.

Tip: If you are using water bottles, be sure to grip them tightly, so they do not slip out of your hands.


Kayaking is another way to improve cardio without running while enjoying the outdoors. It is a great upper body workout, and it can be done on calm waters or rapids, depending on your preference. You can go kayaking on lakes, rivers, or even the ocean.

To do this:

  • Rent or buy a kayak and life jacket.
  • Then, find a body of water to paddle on.
  • Start by paddling at a moderate pace for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Increase the intensity by paddling faster or going upstream once you feel more at ease.

Tip: If you are new to kayaking, be sure to take a class or go on a guided tour before going out on your own.

✔️Incline Walking

Incline walking is a great way to get cardio without running while toning your legs and glutes. It is possible to complete the task on a stair climber, a treadmill, or even an outdoor hill.

To do this:

  • Start walking at a moderate pace for five minutes to warm up your muscles.
  • Then, increase the incline on the treadmill or stair climber.
  • Walk for another five minutes at a moderate pace.
  • As you become more comfortable, you can increase the intensity by walking faster or increasing the incline.

Tip: If you are walking outdoors, wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle.

Things to Consider When Doing Cardio Workouts

Cardio without running

When doing cardio, a few things to keep in mind to stay safe and healthy.

📌Start Slow

It is essential to begin your workouts slowly and gradually increase the intensity as you progress. It will help you avoid injuries and stay motivated. You can start by doing a few minutes of cardio daily and then increase the time as you become more comfortable.

📌Choose the Right Exercises

Not all cardio exercises are suitable for everyone. Choosing activities appropriate for your fitness level and any medical conditions you may have is important. Ask your doctor about your concerns before starting a new workout activity.

📌Wear Proper Shoes

Invest in a high-quality pair of shoes crafted for the form of cardiovascular exercise that you will be performing. Ensure to wear shoes that are comfortable and provide support for your feet. It will help you avoid injuries and stay comfortable working out. You can also buy specialty shoes for certain activities, such as running or hiking.

📌Wear Comfortable Clothing

Better to wear comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement. Avoid wearing clothes that are too loose or too tight. You should also dress for the weather, especially when working outdoors. Wearing layers is a good idea to adjust your clothing as needed.

📌Warm-up and Cool Down

It’s essential to warm up before doing any exercise, mainly cardio. It will help prepare your body for the workout and reduce the risk of injury. After your workout, you should do some light stretching or take a walk to cool down. It will help your muscles recover and prevent soreness.

📌Drink Plenty of Water

Water is essential for your body to function properly. It helps to keep you hydrated and prevents muscles from getting fatigued. When you’re exercising, you lose a lot of fluid through sweat, so it’s important to replenish your supply by drinking plenty of water. Bring a water bottle with you so you can take breaks as needed.

📌Take Breaks as Needed

Take a break if you start to feel tired. Pay attention to cues from your body and refrain from exerting undue pressure on yourself. Taking breaks will prevent you from getting injuries and will keep you motivated throughout your workout. You can always try again later when you are feeling rested.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long should I do cardio?

Your fitness level and goals will measure the duration of your workout. If you are new to exercise, start with shorter training and gradually increase the length as you become more comfortable. A good rule of thumb is to do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio five times per week.

Q. Can I do cardio every day?

Yes, you can do cardio every day if you would like. However, it is important to give your body time to recover. It means that you should not do the same type of cardio every day. For example, you could do 30 minutes of walking on Monday, 30 minutes of swimming on Tuesday, and 30 minutes of biking on Wednesday.

Q. Can I do other types of exercise while doing cardio?

Yes, you can do other types of exercise while doing cardio. It is called multitasking, and it can help you save time. For example, you could do squats while holding on to weight while walking on the treadmill. You could also do sit-ups or push-ups while watching television.

Q. Can I eat before doing cardio?

Yes, you can eat before doing cardio. It is best to consume a light meal or snack high in carbohydrates and low in fat. It will give you the energy to sustain your workout. Avoid eating too close to your workout, so you don’t feel sick.

Q. How can I tell if the intensity of my workout is appropriate?

The best way to gauge the intensity of your workout is to use the “talk test.” It means that you should be able to talk while you are working out, but you shouldn’t be able to sing. If you can speak but not sing, you are most likely working at moderate intensity. If you can’t talk, you are probably working at a high intensity.

Final Thoughts

Cardio is a great way to improve your health and fitness. While running is a great option, you can also get good cardio without running. Many other activities can provide the same benefits. Just be sure to choose an activity that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle. And remember to warm up, cool down, stay hydrated, and take breaks as needed.

Do you have any other tips for how to improve cardio without running? Please share them in the comments below!

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