Running is a fantastic way to lose weight, improve your aerobic capacity and add years to your life. However, only some enjoy logging miles on roads, trails, or treadmills as their preferred form of exercise. Additionally, certain health conditions and physical limitations may prevent some people from running safely. But your inability to run (or your disdain for it) shouldn’t stop you from improving your fitness. Many other physical activities are effective at raising your heart rate, improving your cardiovascular fitness, and burning calories. We’ve rounded up five alternatives to running that burn more calories, so get ready for an effective workout!
According to the Mayo Clinic, most forms of aerobic exercise provide several impressive health benefits:
- Promotes healthy weight loss (when combined with a healthy diet).
- Improves overall strength, fitness and endurance.
- Improves heart health.
- Strengthens the immune system.
- Reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
- Helps manage chronic health conditions.
- Improves mood and mental health.
- Promotes longevity.
Whether you’re looking to burn more calories without running or just want to change things up, we’ve got you covered. We asked Kate Meier, CPT, a certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares five calorie-busting alternatives to running. However, notes Meier, “The actual amount of calories you’ll burn with any exercise will vary greatly depending on your weight and metabolism, but any of the following can be done at the intensity level you have. need to achieve your fitness goals.”
Read on to learn more, then check out 5 Best Cardio Exercises to Keep Your Heart Young as You Age.
If you’re looking for an intense cardio exercise that’s easy on the joints while strengthening your upper body, look no further than the rowing machine.
“The rowing machine is a full-body cardio option that especially works your legs and burns a lot of calories,” says Meier. “Good form is crucial with rowing to avoid overuse injuries, so if you choose to do this form of cardio, try to have a coach or trainer watch you, if possible, to offer guidance. fit when you first start.”
Additionally, indoor rowing exercise has been shown to reduce total body fat percentage, improve body composition, and increase back and core strength, according to a 2015 study.
“If you have access to one, a stairlift is a popular form of cardio used by trainees to strengthen the glutes and legs,” says Meier. “When using this machine, avoid snagging on handrails or slouching, which will minimize the lower body gains this machine is known to facilitate.”
A 2019 study published in Sports observed that stair climbing was an effective alternative to running for boosting aerobic capacity and improving overall fitness. Although the study was conducted in healthy older adults, anyone can experience the cardiovascular benefits of stair climbing.
Outdoor hiking is a great alternative to running. Just be sure to hike a trail with steep inclines to help elevate your heart rate for maximum health benefits. For example, hiking has been linked to several positive health outcomes, including weight loss, lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, improved immune health, and better mental health, according to an article from 2016.
“Make sure you know where you are going ahead of time and always tell a trusted friend where you are going to hike for safety reasons. If you can’t access the hiking trails, incline treadmill walking is a great alternative,” advises Meier.
Another alternative to running that puts less stress on the joints while taking your fitness to the next level is cycling.
“Cycling at a fast pace is another form of cardio that engages the legs and can be a fun way to connect with the outdoors. Indoor cycling can be just as effective if you don’t have a bike or place to cycle outside,” says Meier. “Setting up your bike correctly before workouts is key to avoiding injury and staying safe. If you take it outside, make sure you learn the rules of the road first.”
Cycling offers several other benefits beyond its calorie burning potential. According to research from 2021, cycling is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint while lowering your risk of chronic disease and all-cause mortality.
Last but not least is swimming, one of the most underutilized forms of effective cardio exercise. Swimming is a low-impact, calorie-burning activity.
“Swimming is a great option for those recovering from injuries or who are older and looking to minimize the impact on their joints,” says Meier. “Your form is key to ensuring you get the most out of swimming, so take the time to learn how to swim properly before fully committing to a workout.”
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