Running isn’t for everyone, but we all still need to get our cardio fix. Our fitness experts explain how to get your heart rate up, no running shoes required.
We love cardio. It gets the blood flowing, your heart working and your muscles moving. As a rule, the NHS recommends that adults aim to do “at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week”. And, since there are so many forms of cardiovascular activity to choose from, including exercise classes and even some strength training workouts, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to hitting your quota.
One of the most accessible forms of cardio exercise is running, because it can be done just about anywhere and in most conditions. But it isn’t for everyone – for some people, the idea of running might fill them with abject horror, while others may have an injury. If you fall into the latter category, Dr Sarah Davies from Panacea Health recommends seeing a Sports Doctor to help you overcome the problem, “to enable you to undertake a degree of impact, which is good for your muscles and bone health”.
But if you can’t run or simply don’t want to, there are plenty of other ways of to get your weekly cardio fix. We asked fitness experts to tell us their favourite cardiovascular exercises to try when we don’t feel like running.
Cardio exercises to try at home
If you don’t want to go for a run in your nearby park but want an alternative that won’t require a pricey gym membership, there are plenty of things you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Tashi Skervin, a runner, trainer, and founder of fitness bootcamp TSC Method, recommends getting out a yoga mat and trying out some strength-based cardio exercises. Skaters are a good option, because “they get your heart rate up to improve your cardiovascular fitness just like running does”. To do skaters, “stand with both feet on the ground, jump over to the right, and whilst your right leg lands on the ground keep your left leg elevated”. From here, you “shift your bodyweight whilst your left leg is still elevated and repeat”.
She also suggests trying high intensity mountain climbers, which you do from a plank position on the floor. To complete the movement, “charge your knees left and right into your chest”, almost as though you’re running in a plank position. Not only is this good for your cardiovascular health, but it will also help you improve your core strength. Try doing three rounds of 30 seconds of each of these exercises, with 15 seconds of rest in between.
If you don’t want to put together your own regime, online exercises classes on Zoom and YouTube have become more and more popular since the start of lockdown. Good classes to try if you’re looking for high intensity cardio include HIIT, step aerobics, Zumba and different types of dance. Dr Sarah says that HIIT is a particularly good one to get into, because it can “improve your health, cardiac capability and performance, and in shorter times than long distance running”.
Cardio exercises to try at the gym
If you’re happy to get back into the gym now that they have finally reopened after three long months, there are even more options available to you. Dr Sarah says that good cardio alternatives to running include “swimming, cycling (or spinning), rowing and elliptical”. These are all non-impact forms of cardio, “which keep your heart and lungs fit and healthy”.
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