Running is a simple, effective form of cardiovascular exercise that offers a range of benefits, from strengthening your joints to improving your mood.

But even proponents will admit that running is tough. It takes a moderate level of fitness to run for more than a few minutes. It can be rough on the body, particularly for those with foot, ankle, or knee conditions. Running can also be a bit of a mental drag, especially if you run in the same places frequently.

Luckily, running is just one of the dozens of methods available for those seeking a great cardio workout. While jogging is popular and widespread, there are many ways to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing without pounding on your joints and limbs.

We’ve divided this list of non-running cardio activity into two sections. Movements on the first list require only your body weight and a single piece of equipment. Movements on the second list require some specialized machines.



Non-Machine Cardio:

You don’t need access to a gym with cutting-edge machines to get a good workout. Like running, you can do these exercises with either your body weight or one other piece of equipment, like a rope or kettlebell.



Jump Rope:

Jumping rope is easy and low impact. You can do it anywhere with enough space to swing the rope. It’s also highly efficient: Research indicates a 10-minute daily rope-skipping program is just as effective as a 30-minute jogging regimen.


  • Keep your elbows in close and your core tight to maintain balance while jumping.
  • Once you’re comfortable, add variations like hopping from side to side or alternating your feet every swing.




You don’t need to step into the ring or even leave your house to get a good boxing workout. By incorporating different types of kicks, punches, and shuffling motions, you can train your core and upper- and lower-body muscles while getting your heart pumping.




  • Use a combination of jabs, crosses, and kicks to create your own workout sequence, or follow along with an online video program.
  • For an extra challenge, try holding light dumbbells or using ankle weights to add resistance.




Calisthenics is bodyweight movements with little equipment that help you get stronger and improve cardiovascular fitness. You can do a quick calisthenics routine anywhere, from the office to your living room. You can also easily scale the amount of work you do to fit an allotted window for working out.




  • For a wider variety of moves, look for an outdoor park or gym that has calisthenics equipment, like parallel bars and rings.
  • If you’re planning a full workout, include both upper- and lower-body-focused moves for well-rounded muscle improvements.



Moving Planks:

Planking is a great way to build core strength and endurance. When you combine the traditional plank with any kind of motion, it ups the difficulty and increases your heart rate by recruiting more body parts. Popular variations include the army crawl, mountain climber, and plank jack.



  • While planking, always keeps your back straight and engage your glutes to maintain proper posture.
  • For an extra challenge, incorporate sliders, scooters, or towels to reduce friction under your feet and hands.



Indoor Cycling:

You can find a spin class at almost any gym, but you don’t need a group for a great workout on a spin bike. By adjusting the resistance levels and incorporating standing to sitting motions, you can control the challenge and intensity of your ride.



  • For the most comfortable experience, adjust the seat height up to your hip bone.
  • Serious riders may want to use cycling shoes. They clip directly onto the bike’s pedals and provide a more balanced, efficient leg motion.


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