Cardio Substitutes for Running - The Fitness Cafe

August 28, 20162210

Bored of running for hours on the treadmill? Even bored of solitary runs outdoors? Well you are not to be blamed. 

There are a million reasons why you might not want to run. Research shows that running is hard on the body and as many as 50% of runners get injured each year.  Running is great and lot of people enjoy this form of cardio workout. But running is not for everyone. If you are one of those people who don’t like running or can’t run due to any injury, don’t worry. We have got you covered. Try some of these other cardio workouts which are at par with, if not better, than running.


The elliptical is considered as the closest alternative to running. It provides all the benefits of running, but is low impact and much better for your joints. Crank up the resistance and you will see the calories you burn are more or less the same as running. The only downside is that you can’t do it outdoors.

Related: Running Tips That Will Help You Run Extra Miles


Cycling is a great form of cardio. It is easier on the knees than running. You cover a greater distance so the change of route can motivate you. Try changing resistance and speed to make your workout challenging. If you are not a big fan of outdoor cycling, try spin class. It may look easy to sit on a stationary bike for an hour, but a spin class is anything but easy. It is a great form of group fitness and we guarantee you it will tire you out. Spinning also burns more calories than running.


Swimming laps provides greater calorie burn than running. It strengthens and tones your entire body including your core. It allows you to get the ultimate lean body look that probably no other form of cardio will. Just take a look at the bodies of olympic swimmers (the first person that comes on mind is Michael Phelps, right? 😉 ) and decide for yourself!


Try taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. But in order to use the stairs as a cardio workout you need to do a lot more. Try the stair-master at the gym. It is guaranteed that it will give you a workout tougher than running. In addition, it will strengthen and tone up your lower body.



The rowing machine is also another great alternative to the treadmill. In fact, rowing will work out most of your body parts, including arms, legs and abs. Using proper form will help you tone your entire body with this form of cardio and get the most out of your workout.


Dancing is undoubtedly the most fun you can have from your workout! It is great for relieving stress in addition to giving you a great workout. You can dance alone, but group dancing classes are generally preferable. There are a lot of dance forms including Zumba, Dance Aerobics and Hip-Hop that are taught at most gyms. Take your pick and have a blast. Take a buddy along for even more fun!


Walking can be used as an alternative to running if you know what to do. On incline, it has been known to burn as many calories as running, while being low impact on your joints. On uphill, it gets your heart rate up quickly and also tones your glutes. Hiking is also a great form of walking, but much more strenuous. Hiking is a great way to be close with nature, spend time with friends and enjoy scenic views while getting in a great cardio workout.


Jumping rope is no joke. Try it for a few minutes and you will feel the burn. There is a reason why it is the favorite cardio choice for boxers in addition to running. It is great for working out the core and improves your balance and agility. Turn on some music and change the tempo of your jumps to make it fun. Also try variations such as one legged jumps and cross rope jumps. It won’t be long before you are jumping rope like Rocky Balboa!


Kickboxing is great for relieving stress. Can you think of anything better than kicking and punching a bag when you are stressed? 😉  It also gets your heart rate up in a hurry. Try kickboxing and it will surely become one of the most addictive workouts you ever do.


Circuit training for cardio is a do-it-anywhere workout. But this is not the only reason what makes it great. Try a circuit of jumping jacks, burpees, high knees and mountain climbers and you will know why it is one of the most challenging cardio workouts. Each exercise tones different parts of your body giving you a full body workout. We won’t blame you if you want to go back to running after your first circuit training session!

Also Read: 10 Weight Loss Tips That Actually Works!

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The Fitness Cafe started out when a couple of guys set out on a fitness goal that many believed to be impossible. One of the founders lost 48lbs in one year and is on his way to completing his first half marathon!