Cardio Alternatives to Running

Running is not only easy to get started with, but with its low-impact, it requires no equipment and it can be done anywhere.

However, not everyone is comfortable running or they may have certain conditions that make running too difficult.

In order to maintain physical fitness, people often turn to cardiovascular exercise. Running is a popular choice, as it burns a lot of calories and keeps you in shape.

Luckily, there are a variety of cardio that helps with running that are just as effective at improving cardiovascular health and getting your heart pumping.

So if you can’t or don’t want to run for whatever reason, there are cardio alternatives to running. Let’s find out!

Top 8 Cardio Alternatives to Running

Non Machine Cardio

Non Machine Cardio is an alternative to traditional cardio and has many benefits for your physical and mental health.

The idea behind this type of cardio alternatives at home is that it does not involve any machines. No more risking injury from slipping on the floor, getting tangled in cords, or overusing joints from prolonged time spent on a machine.

So if you are in for cardio other than treadmill along with indoor exercises equivalent to running, keep reading to gain a better insight about these exercises to do instead of running.


Fit swimmer training in the swimming pool

Swimming is a great cardio alternative for running. It is low impact and allows you to work on different muscle groups.

Swimming can be done in a variety of ways, but one of them is by using an arm stroke. This stroke provides more resistance than side-stroke and also lets you go faster and burn more calories.

Swimming is an aerobic exercise that burns calories and improves cardiovascular health. It can be a good alternative for people who are looking for a new cardio routine or those who have injuries that prevent them from running.


  • Start out slow: The most important thing about swimming is learning how to breathe properly in water. If you feel like your head might pop out of the water, relax your shoulders and breathe deeply from your diaphragm.
  • Keep your head above water when you are in the pool
  • Don’t do flips in the water because it will make it harder for you to breathe underwater
  • Swim on your back if you want to practice freestyle swimming
  • Always keep your eyes open when you are in the water

Rope Jumping

If you are looking for running alternatives for bad knees, jump rope can be your new best friend. 

Jumping rope is a great way to get your heart rate up and work on endurance. It also works your thighs, hamstrings, calves, shoulders and arms. You can use a variety of jumping techniques in order to mix things up and keep it interesting. After you finish a jump rope workout, you will feel like you accomplished something. This is great for your upper body too.


  • Be aware of what you’re going to do when you step off the platform. You want to land on your feet and be upright.
  • Make sure you remain calm. Remain balanced physically and mentally before jumping off so that you can make sure your feet are firmly planted on the rope before taking any further action.
  • Choose an appropriate rope for your height


Another cardiovascular exercise to do instead of running is boxing. Boxing is a sport that has been around for centuries. The popularity of this sport has been increasing over the years and it’s not hard to see why.

It is a high-intensity workout, promotes weight loss, reduces stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem, improves mental health and emotional stability, burns calories rapidly and improves cardiovascular health.


  • Keep your hands high (elbows out to the side) to protect your head and keep your face away from being hit.
  • To train your arms when punching, focus on making sure that all of your punches are “tight” and “snappy.” You want to be able to control the power behind your punch so that you don’t hit too hard or too soft. This will also help you with stamina later down the road!

Moving Planks

Young Athlete Female in Plank Pose doing Running Abs

Another great aerobic exercise that works well as an alternative to running to lose weight is moving planks. Moving planks exercise is a balance-building and strengthening exercise that challenges your core. This exercise can be done at home or in the office to relieve stress.

This is a full body workout, which includes the legs, arms, shoulders and back.


  • Balance your weight on your toes and your elbows, keeping your back straight and parallel to the ground.
  • Move one hand at a time forward to push yourself back towards the ground, before repeating with the opposite hand and then coming back up to starting position.

Overhead Loaded Carries

Log Lift

Running is a popular form of exercise that many people use to stay fit. But it can be challenging for those who are recovering from injuries or have other physical limitations. Overhead Loaded Carries (OLC) is an alternative to running and has the same benefits as running but with less impact on the body.

Overhead Loaded Carries (OLC) is a type of training that focuses on carrying weights overhead. The benefits of OLC include improved stability, balance, and core strength.


Keep your back straight, shoulders down, and chin up while wearing the backpack so that it fits snugly on your body without any gaps or spaces. This will help with weight distribution on your hips and shoulders.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

Asian Indian Mid Adult macho man practicing battle rope in gym

HIIT(high-intensity interval training)  is a type of high-intensity workout that combines cardiovascular exercise with muscle training. It is a training system that alternates brief periods of intense anaerobic exercise, such as sprinting, with less-intense recovery periods.

The benefits of HIIT are not only the fact that it boosts metabolism and burns fat, but also improves the body’s capacity for glucose and insulin sensitivity.


  • Do a warm up before starting the workout,
  • Keep your head up,
  • Don’t forget to eat something after you exercise

Machine Cardio

Elliptical Machine

Elliptical  has been known to be a low-impact exercise, but it is also an effective cardio exercise. It uses the same muscles as running but does not cause any of the overuse injuries associated with running. So if you want to really target your leg muscle, this is just the right choice for you.

It can reduce stress and improve mood levels in a person. It also helps our body stay healthy and prevent disease, like heart disease.

You can also switch to a stationary bike if you want an even more low impact workout.

Rowing Machine

Rowing Machine

Running is the most popular form of aerobic exercise which allows the heart to keep pumping to oxygenate the body. However, it comes with a number of side effects such as aching joints and lungs. Rowing, on the other hand, is an often overlooked form of cardio activity.

Rowers can benefit from its natural build-up benefits. It doesn’t put pressure on your joints, strengthen muscles and increase lung capacity like running does. It also provides long term cardio exercise in a fun way that can be enjoyed by anyone who wants to give it a shot!

Vertical Climbing Machine

Some people choose to run in place in order to get their cardio up and burn more calories.  However, most people are not able to stick to it and end up giving it up.

The Vertical Climbing Machine is an alternative to running that provides the same benefits of cardio workout without the impact on the joints.

It also has a low impact on joints and is easily accessible for those who cannot run due to injury or disability.

There are many benefits of using the Vertical Climbing Machine as an alternative to running. Some of these benefits include:

  • The machine helps you maintain a healthy weight and get rid of excess fat
  • It can help you maintain your cardiovascular health and reduce risks related to heart diseases
  • It helps you keep your balance, improve posture, and increase strength

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the better option; Machine or Non-Machine Exercises?

Non-machine workouts are the better option than machine workouts. Many people are skeptical about the effectiveness of machine exercises. This is because machines like treadmills, rowing machines and stair climbers only mimic natural movements and do not really simulate ones you might see in sports activities.

Why do we need to consider the cardio alterva?

Running is a physically demanding activity. It can help people work out by limbering muscles, burning calories and aiding weight loss. But there are some side-effects that may not be seen immediately. Runner’s knee, shin splints, and stress fractures are some of the common side-effects of running for long hours.

How much should one cardio on a regular basis?

Regular cardio practice does not have any adverse effects on your blood pressure or other conditions. In small doses, it is safe for all stages of life. But large doses are bad for your heart so doing low-intensity cardio is better than high-intensity cardio.


Running is widely considered as one of the best ways for people to stay fit and healthy. There are some who, due to various reasons, would rather not run or simply can’t run anymore because of medical issues like knee or hip injuries.

With that being said, there are many other cardio alternatives to running available these days that can be used as an alternative exercise.

Consider the mentioned workouts to get yourself going for the day and complete your workout cycle.


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