If I said “cardio exercises are good for you” many of you will automatically think running, but there is more to cardio than being a hard core runner. And lets face it, even the hardiest of winter running warriors seek reprieve from outdoor adventure in the depths of winter (myself included) sometimes. How can you keep moving if running is not your thing?

Cardio, short for cardiovascular, is any exercise that gets your heart rate up and increases circulation. In addition to burning calories, cardio strengthens your heart muscle, increases metabolism and adds to your overall health. Get creative with your cardio workouts and choose one of these non-running routines to get your heart pumping.

6 Cardio Exercises You Need to Add to Your Exercise Routine

Indoor cycling

Why: Whether you call it spinning or cycling, riding a bike indoors is a fabulous low-impact way to mix up your cardio routine. In a 40 minute workout, you can burn up to 600 calories! If one of your summer goals is to complete your first triathlon or long distance road bike ride, indoor cycling is an absolute must over the winter months.

How: Sign up for an indoor spin class, where an instructor will guide you through energetic intervals. Prefer to workout on your own? Invest in a cycle trainer, which converts your bike into a stationary bike. You can pedal while catching up on your favourite podcasts, or if you’re up for a challenge, download a workout from CycleOps or SufferFest (that burning feeling is your quads thanking you).


Why: Channel your inner child and jump your way to better health with a skipping rope workout. Burning a whopping 200 calories in only a 20 minute session, skipping can be used as a warm up for your strength training routine or as a quick way to squeeze cardio into your day. Plus, a skipping rope is an affordable addition to your home gym.

How: If you’re new to skipping, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has a video series to help you learn the basics. Then, set your timer for a heart pumping cardio session – we have workout ideas on Pinterest.

Deep Water Pool Running

Why: Water running used to be used by endurance athletes as a last resort to keep up with their training when they were injured. But this aerobic workout is great for older adults because it a zero impact way to reap the heart building benefits of running. Not an outdoor winter warrior? Deep water pool running is an alternative to running outdoors in sub-zero temperatures.

How: To ensure proper running form in the pool, use a floatation belt. You can either do the same running workout you would do on the road or on a treadmill, or sign up for a class.

Dance Classes

Why: Don’t let the feeling that you have two left feet get in the way of this fun fitness alternative. Zumba(R), one of the most popular types of dance classes, uses Latin-inspired dance steps and music to get you moving and is very beginner friendly. Others, like Sh’Bam, use chart topping pop and dance to get your cardio groove on.

How: Most local gyms and fitness centres offer some form of dance classes, but don’t overlook registered for a traditional dance class, like tap, ballet or ballroom dancing.

Elliptical Intervals

Why: Shake off the notion that the elliptical trainer is the treadmill’s easygoing cousin. Elliptical machines get your whole body moving, offering a head-to-toe workout targeting muscles not usually used during running. Best of all, it’s low-impact!

How: Stave off the boredom of a gym-bound elliptical workout by turning it into a heart-thumping interval session. Use the pre-programmed interval setting on the machine, or use your favourite running interval workout instead.

Cardio Barre

Why: Cardio barre is quickly becoming the “it” workout and for good reason: This whole-body workout (which uses ballet barres and light weights) promises to give you the long and lithe physique of a ballet dancer. You work at your own pace, making cardio barre classes as easy or as challenging as you want. Tutu and pointe shoes are optional.

How: Barre studios are popping up in cities across the country, but you can just as easily try cardio barre at home with beginner-friendly DVDs like Pure Barre and Barre Body.

Running may not be your thing but that is no reason to skip a cardio workout altogether, think of it as an opportunity to try something new! If you are just starting out, consult with your physician first and then try a walking workout at a quick pace or up hills to increase your cardio intensity level. The above 6 aerobic exercise alternatives are a fun way to mix up your routine. Try one – or try them all!  For more cardio workout ideas, follow Boomer Nutrition on Twitter and Instagram.