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8 Best Cardio Workouts for Those Who Hate Running

Man cycling on the road.

When it comes to cardio, you either love it or hate it. It’s almost impossible to be in the middle. Still, cardio is extremely beneficial for your long-term health as it improves your cardiovascular system, prevents heart disease, lowers your cholesterol levels, and keeps your blood sugar in range.

There are many different types of cardio workouts that focus on different areas of your body, but they all have one thing in common: elevating your heart rate and burning calories. Probably one of the most natural forms of cardio for humans is running, but not everyone enjoys lacing their shoes and speeding along the neighborhood. Here are eight alternatives to running you can try and reap the cardiovascular benefits.


A man and woman bike riding in nature.

Summer is not over yet and it’s a great time to take out your bike and start pedaling. Cycling is great for your lower body and building your leg muscles. It’s also great for improving your endurance and VO2 Max, one of the most important measures of physical fitness. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a savvy bike rider, you can always modify your rides depending on your mood and energy levels. And you can make them as easy or as challenging as you wish, getting all the cardio benefits.

If cycling outside isn’t your favorite activity but you still enjoy the movement, hop on an indoor bike and pedal your way into a sweaty workout.

Schwinn Bike Helmet

The ultimate protection.


Woman swimming in a pool.

You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to have a good swimming session. Swimming is really taxing on your body as you’re moving through water and its resistance, so basically whatever move you make is already causing your body to work harder than when there’s no water present.

If you’re interested in learning a particular swimming style, find a place that offers swimming lessons and brush on your technique and posture. Once you get the basics, you’ll be effective in the pool, managing to count your strokes and laps, creating a very efficient cardiovascular workout.

Top Choice

ZIONOR Polarized Swimming Goggles

These goggles will protect your eyes to perfection while also ensuring you have a clear view of your underwater surroundings.


Woman putting on rollerblades.

Another fun outdoor activity, rollerblading is easy to learn and provides an ultimate cardio workout. Invite a friend to join and spend some quality time while burning calories. Not to mention, you’ll be outdoors, breathing in the fresh air and getting away from that laptop.

The greatest thing about rollerblading is that you can do it basically anywhere where it’s safe. All you need to do is put them on and start skating.

Inline Skates for Women

Fast and reliable for everyday fun.

Jumping Rope (Skipping)

Woman jumping rope in front of a wall.
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

Skipping is an awesome cardio workout you can do practically anywhere. Apparently, 10 minutes of skipping equates to 30 minutes of jogging on a treadmill. So, not only are you doing something fun instead of something you dislike, but you’re also doing it three times as fast.

If you’re new to jumping rope, you do need to master the skill as it can be pretty challenging and dawning at first. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel like you’ve known it forever. It’s playful, fun, creative, and challenging, all at the same time.

Jump Rope

Make skipping fun and exciting.


Woman working out on the elliptical trainer.

If you like the running motion but dislike the actual movement, the elliptical may be the perfect cardio workout for you. It works both, your legs and arms, challenging you by adding resistance or cranking up the speed.

With two different placings for your hands and the ability to play around with squatting or extending your legs, you can have completely different workouts every time you step on the machine. Elliptical is also a great option for Tabata exercises where you perform the same movement but with different speeds in a specific timeframe: sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10, and then repeat four to eight times.

Heart Rate Monitor

Monitor your rate of burning calories throughout your workout.


Man and woman exercising on rowing machines in a gym.
Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com

Rowing is a great cardio workout that really challenges your entire body much faster than you’d ever think. Just try rowing for 10 minutes, maintaining a somewhat same intensity, and you’ll feel like you’ve run five miles in comparison. Studies show it’s even more efficient for cardiovascular health than cycling.

And you don’t have to be in the actual water to utilize these benefits. Indoor rowing machines are just as effective and they’re an amazing investment for someone who hates running and has space in their home for fitness equipment this size.

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine

This rower provides a smooth workout for a very affordable price.

HIIT Circuit Training

Woman jumping during HIIT exercise.

High-intensity interval training or HIIT is a form of training that allows you to be creative, move from exercise to exercise, bump up your intensity to the maximum, and get away with a very quick and effective workout. 

HIIT really focuses on high-intensity moves and asks you to deliver your maximum combined with rest periods. It’s a great and definitely not boring way to get your cardio in. The only problem with HIIT is that it shouldn’t be performed on days when you’re fatigued, sore, and tired, as chances are you won’t even hit 70% of your maximum and you might be risking injury.

New Balance Fitness Shoes

Perfect for any type of workout.


Woman kickboxing in a studio.
Karla Tafra

Boxing requires skill and practice, but it’s one of the best cardio workouts you can do. It works your entire body, strengthens your muscles, challenges your balance, and pushes your stamina to the next level. Whether you’re a beginner or someone who owns a boxing bag in your home, get your gloves on and let out all of the stress and frustrations with your intense punches!

Boxing gloves

Protect your hands while you're throwing punches.

Cardio doesn’t mean running; you can get all the health benefits from other cardio-based workouts. Especially if you enjoy them way more.  If you’re still unsure where to start, check out these amazing fitness apps and find some inspiration as you browse.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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