Skip to main content

3 ways to get a great low-impact cardio workout if you hate running

Image used with permission by copyright holder

There is a simple truth about running: it is simply not for everyone.

Seasoned runners may scoff at the notion that their favorite exercise is anything other than transcendental bliss, but for a large swath of the population, it can feel taxing, exhausting, and downright unpleasant. For many, running is no walk in the park.

Before you chalk it up to sheer laziness, keep in mind that running requires a base level of physical competence that not everyone possesses. It also can be hard — quite hard — on the joints. And frankly, not everyone has an idyllic running route or comfy gym available to them, both of which some runners may well take for granted.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you’re someone who just can’t bring yourself to take up running, take heart. You can bypass the running and still get a top-notch cardio workout. Here are three possibilities.

Dancing

According to statistics from Harvard Medical School, dancing can burn up to 180 calories per 30 minutes of activity. Not too shabby for something objectively designed for the purposes of having fun.

And that’s the key selling point of dancing as a cardio workout: the relatively high chance you’ll forget you’re doing a cardio workout.

Whether out on the floor or in a hybridized dance-fitness program like Zumba, dancing is a great alternative to running. And it improves your coordination and balance to boot!

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Swimming or water running

Swimming provides a full-body workout while making a minimal impact on your joints.

The Harvard stats estimate that running a 10-minute mile and swimming vigorous laps burn the exact same number of calories in half an hour — 360 — for a 155-pound person. Swimming also strengthens muscles in both the upper and lower bodies while improving flexibility.

Deep water running may be less familiar to some, but it’s a terrific workout, especially for those rehabbing from an injury or who have significant joint issues. All you need is a pool and a flotation or aqua belt, which runners wear as they “run” through the deep end of the pool. If you’ve never enjoyed running, maybe this low-impact version will be more in your wheelhouse.

If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, even when you’re in the pool, that same Harvard data, tells us water aerobics burn about 140 calories every 30 minutes.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Stair climbing or step aerobics

Climbing stairs is not about speed. Anyone who has done it for a long enough has experienced the burn that this simple but surprisingly taxing activity can create.

Got a staircase? Then you’ve got a workout. And it doesn’t take long for the calories to burn away.

Step aerobics took this basic idea and formed a new fitness craze around it. It’s now a veteran of the scene but remains popular, with a plastic “step” as the equipment centerpiece.

Both versions take a lesser toll on the body than running, with one study estimating the impact of step aerobics as somewhere between walking and running. Still, step aerobics burns an average of 360 calories per hour, so the cardio drop-off is slim to none.

There’s a fourth option that may be obvious but deserves a mention nonetheless: good, old-fashioned walking. A brisk walk for 30 minutes five days a week is all you need to meet federal guidelines for physical activity.

Options abound for anyone who, for any reason, doesn’t have the ability or the willingness to run. Running is an easy and productive form of exercise, but no activity, even running, has the market cornered on cardio. Ditch the running and shoes and try any of these alternatives for a new exercise experience.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
Prime Day hair dryer deals 2022: Top 3 picks, from $20
Check out these Prime Day deals
Woman blowdrying her hair

Prime day is back, which means there are tons of great deals from your favorite online retailers all week. If you’ve been searching for the perfect Prime Day hair dryer deal, we may have found what you’ve been waiting for -- three great deals on top-rated hair dryers. The first Prime Day deal is from Amazon, and it’s the Revlon 1875 Turbo Fast Dry Hair Dryer. This hair dryer is regularly priced at $25 and is on sale for $20,

. The second deal is also from Amazon, the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Hair Dryer. This hair dryer is on sale for $90, which

Read more
Finding your way in a new town when you have to relocate for work
genius products for small space

It doesn’t matter whether you’re embarking on a second career, a second marriage, or the second grade. Moving to a new town can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Work is perhaps the most common reason to relocate. But you’ve left more than your old job behind. There’s a good chance you’ve also moved away from friends or family, not to mention all the familiar faces and places that make a hometown what it is. Now you’ll need to find a new dentist, a new flower shop, and a whole new support network. All of a sudden, there are a lot of proverbial balls in the air. It’s inconvenient at best and downright debilitating at worst.

Read more
Beach running for your next workout: What you need to know
running sand improves body on beach legs

It can be easy to get off your fitness or running routine while you’re on vacation at the beach. With junk food around every dune and the hours filled with surf and sun, the days can get away from you fast.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the beach and all the fun and indulgences it has to offer. If you want to take a break from your fitness routine, go right ahead — you’ve earned it. But for those with a desire to keep active during their downtime, the shore has a secret fitness weapon: the beach itself.

Read more