You may love the idea of running — the open road, the calorie burn, and above all the fact that, unlike a $20 spin class, it’s completely free and available 24 hours a day. What you may not love so much is running’s harsh impact on your body, or the monotony of the treadmill. While you may not be sold on running, there’s no denying the results that cardio provides. It keeps your body tight and fit, and most importantly helps prevent a whole host of illnesses like diabetes, stroke, cancer, and heart disease. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is defined as repetitive motion with little to no added resistance. In cardio, multiple muscle groups get worked, and as they do, your body burns calories and increases your aerobic capacity.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, adults gain some serious health benefits from just two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise a week. Whether you’re a gym devotee or not, there are plenty of non-running cardio exercises that will keep you in tip-top shape year-round.
1. Circuit training
If you want to work up a sweat, burn a hefty dose of calories, and still be done with your workout in just 10 to 20 minutes, circuit training may be your perfect cardio match. Circuit training works by mixing aerobic moves with strengthening ones with minimal rest time in between. The key here is to master your rest and recovery period, which can be as little as 15 seconds between exercises. This form of cardio works because it gets your heart rate up and keeps it up throughout the workout. The fat burning potential is huge and you’ll find yourself doing plenty of body-weight exercises like plank leg lifts, bicycle sit-ups, squats, and burpees.