What is a good alternative cardio exercise to running? If you’re like I was and dread the thought of climbing on the treadmill for a run, and don’t like running or find it difficult, not to worry, there are plenty of other ways to get your cardio in! In this post, I will share with you some of the best alternative cardio exercises that are just as effective (if not more so) than running.

Alternative Cardio to Running

Best Alternative Cardio Exercises to Running

If you can’t think of anything worse than putting on jogging shorts and going for a run, you’re not alone. It’s an unfortunate reality that when most people think of cardiovascular exercise, they think of running. This is a great shame because cardio provides so many benefits,  everyone should be able to find at least one exercise they consistently enjoy doing.

There are plenty of alternative exercises to running out there and we are going to list our favorites:

1. Swimming

Swimming is a great cardio workout because it works all the muscles in your body and increases your heart rate. It’s also low-impact, so it’s much easier on your joints than running.

First, ensure you warm up with a few laps of slow swimming. Then, you can start doing some interval training. This involves swimming for a short burst of time (30 seconds to 1 minute) and then resting for a few seconds before swimming again. Repeat this for 10-15 minutes, and you’ll feel your heart rate racing!

2. Cycling

Cycling is another excellent cardio workout that is low-impact and works all your legs’ muscles. It’s also great to explore your surroundings and get some fresh air!

Also, like swimming, ensure you warm up with a few minutes of easy pedaling before you start interval training. For cycling, you can do intervals by either increasing your speed for a minute and then riding at a slower pace for a minute or by pedaling hard for 30 seconds and then resting for 30 seconds. Do this for 10-15 minutes, and you’ll get your heart rate up.

3. Hiking

Hiking is a great way to get some cardio while enjoying the outdoors. It’s important to warm up with a few minutes of walking before you start hiking at a faster pace. And, if you want to challenge yourself, you can try hiking uphill!

That said, ensure you listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you feel fatigued, take a break and rest for a few minutes. And, of course, always be aware of your surroundings and hike with a buddy if possible.

Remember to start slow and then increase your pace as you go. And, if you start to feel tired, take a break and walk at a slower pace for a few minutes.

4. Skipping

Skipping is a great way to improve your cardio.

It is an excellent workout for your legs, increases your heart rate, and helps burn calories. If you’re looking for a more challenging workout, try adding some jump squats into your skipping routine.

In other words, start with your feet and then jump up, spreading your legs to the side. As you land, squat down low and then jump up again.

This exercise is not only great for your legs, but it also works your core and arms.

5. Rowing

Few people think of rowing as a cardio workout, but it is!

Rowing is a great way to work your upper and lower body simultaneously. Plus, it’s a low-impact workout, so it’s easy on your joints.

You can always try using a resistance band if you don’t have a rowing machine at home. Just loop the band around your feet and hold on to the ends with your hands.

Then, sit down and row away!

6. Taking the stairs

Although it may not seem like it, taking the stairs is a great workout. Not only does it help to tone your legs, but it also gets your heart pumping.

If you live in a multi-story house or apartment building, take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to see results!

In time, you may even be able to run up the stairs! So not only is this a great workout, but it’s also a great way to get where you’re going in a hurry.

So, next time you need to go up or down a few flights of stairs, take the opportunity to get in a good workout!

7. Going for walks

Walking is often overlooked as a form of exercise, but it’s a great way to get your heart rate up and improve your overall fitness.

Try walking instead of driving if you live close to work or school. You’ll save money on gas and get some extra steps in!

And, if you have a dog, take them for a walk around the block. They’ll love the fresh air, and you’ll get some exercise simultaneously.

Also, try walking with a friend or family member. Not only is it more fun than walking alone, but you’ll be more likely to stick with it if you have someone to keep you motivated.

So, next time you’re looking for a way to get some exercise, don’t forget about walking! It’s an easy and enjoyable way to get fit.

Other Alternative Cardio Ideas For Running 

If you don’t like running or are looking for other ways to get your cardio in, plenty of other options are available.


Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness class that is sweeping the nation. It’s an excellent workout for your whole body, and it’s also a lot of fun!

Zumba is the way to go if you’re looking for a challenging and enjoyable workout.


Kickboxing is a great way to relieve stress and get a great workout simultaneously. It’s also a lot of fun; you can let loose, punch, and kick your way to fitness.

Make sure you have a good pair of gloves and supportive shoes, and you’re good to go!


Dancing is another great, fun workout that most people don’t think about when they think of cardio. Dancing can be a great social activity and a way to meet new people.

Important Considerations

Now that you know some of the best alternative exercises to running for improving your cardio, keeping a few things in mind is essential.

First, be sure to warm up before you start exercising. A simple 5-10 minute walk is all you need to warm your muscles and get ready to go.

Second, listen to your body. If you feel pain, take a break and rest for a few minutes. And, if the pain persists, stop exercising and see a doctor.

Finally, be sure to cool down after your workout. A brief 5-10 minute walk will help your muscles recover and reduce the risk of injury.

So, there you have it! We hope you found an alternative cardio to running in the list above that you can try. These are just a few of the best exercises to improve cardiovascular fitness. So, get out there and start moving! Your heart will thank you for it.

About the Author: Zoe Taylor

Zoe Taylor has a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and is an avid runner and fitness writer. Zoe works with BodyCapable by researching and writing cardio-related content. In her spare time, Zoe runs marathons, keeps up to date with the latest fitness trends, and enjoys walking her dog!