10 Ways to Do Cardio Without Stepping on a Treadmill

cardio stairs

To a lot of people, the word “cardio” sounds like a four-letter word. And even though no training program is complete without at least some metabolic conditioning sessions sprinkled in every now and then, many gym-goers seem to avoid it.

We ask: why? Sure, it may stink during the workout, but once you’re done, you’re almost always left feeling better than you started (guess those exercise-induced endorphins really do make a difference). Plus, smartly done cardio is heart-healthy, good for your mood and energy, and can definitely help you with your fat loss goals.

Cardio = Treadmill (Not Always, Anyway)

Here’s the thing: we suspect that a lot of people don’t like cardio because they only equate it to running. And let’s face it: a lot of us don’t love the idea of powering up the treadmill or going for a run around the block. But there’s good news:
Whether you think running is boring, uncomfortable, or simple too time-consuming, there are tons of ways to get in a great cardio workout without having to step on the treadmill.


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10 Great Cardio Workouts—No Treadmill Required

1) Climb the stairs! Of course, you can use a real set of stairs, but you may want to check out the stepmill (aka stair climber) at the gym.

jump rope cardio2) Do it old school by jumping rope.

3) Sweat your heart out at a spin class.

4) Kick it in a kick-boxing class.

5) Stretch, sweat, and center yourself at a heated yoga class.

6) Get your cardio pump on with low load, high volume weight lifting. By moving light loads quickly (and safely and correctly, of course), you’ll work your muscles and your cardiovascular system. Example: try 10 sets of 10 back squats with a timed 2-minute rest between sets (the last rep in each set should look as pretty as the first one).

cardio pool7) Pop on that swim cap and hit the pool! Doing laps is low impact and a full-body workout.

8) Strap those toes in and do a few thousand meters on the rowing machine.

9) Grab some buddies and play a pick-up game of your favorite sport (we’re thinking basketball, tennis, or soccer).

10) Got 5-10 minutes? Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). As an example, do as many reps as you can of a given movement in 1 minute, then rest 30 seconds to 1 minute, and repeat x 5. You’ll still get an awesome workout in even if you only have a little bit of time to sneak one in. Plus, you can do HIIT with virtually any training modality (running, stair climbing, wall balls, burpees, jump roping, etc), so you still won’t feel limited to the dreaded treadmill.

See? Cardio Isn’t that bad! Be sure to give one of these ideas a try and let us know how your next treadmill-free cardio session goes by sharing in the comments below!

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Sara M. is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and freelance writer living and working near Boston, MA. As a former CrossFit gym owner and current fitness lover, Sara has a lot of personal and professional experience inside and outside the gym. She loves to write about various topics related to health, wellness, nutrition, human behavior, and self-mastery.