#Motivation Monday: 3 Cardio Alternatives to Running

From our archives: Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight or stay slim, cardio is an important facet of your exercise routine

Photo: Unsplash/@dylan_nolte

Photo: Unsplash/@dylan_nolte

From our archives:

Regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight or stay slim, cardio is an important facet of your exercise routine. Unfortunately, the common forms of cardio that are available at nearly every gym,  like running on a treadmill, or elliptical, can get a little dull when done repetitively.  This can damage your discipline when it comes to your workout because you may be inclined to just skip your un-engaging cardio (especially if you’re not a natural runner) We have a helpful solution: finding ways to spice up your cardio routine. Below are some creative cardio secrets that many trainers use to help keep their clients motivated!

Jump Rope

I bet you remember playing double dutch on the playground as a kid, but you might not have thought of it as a calorie killing exercise. Traditionally, jump ropes have been the territory of professional boxers (think Rocky’s training montage) because it helps them remain light on their feet. However, it can be incorporated into a workout as a high-calorie-burning activity. There have even been some studies that claim jumping rope for an extended period of time can be comparable to running at a pace of nine miles per hour on a treadmill. How’s that for an intense workout?

In addition to the cardio benefits of jump roping, there are many other reasons to incorporate jump ropes into your daily exercise routine.  First of all, jumping rope, when performed properly, can also double as a strength-building activity.  It has been shown to improve vertical jump height and overall leg durability.

Another benefit is the their easily accessible and mobile exercise tools. Traditional equipment for cardio, such as treadmills or stationary bikes, can be quite expensive. Jump ropes, on the other hand, are no more than $20 dollars and can be taken wherever you want.

Finally, jumping rope is a full-body exercise that incorporates every major muscle system.  Meaning that you’re more likely to lose fat and gain muscle throughout your body.  It may take time getting used to it, but by beginning to jump rope, you are opening up your body to one of the best workouts possible.

Battling Ropes

Sometimes called combat ropes or training ropes, battling ropes aren’t as intimidating as they sound.  They’re not as common as jump ropes, but if your gym has a combat rope available, you can get an exhaustive full body workout (swinging them for thirty seconds makes you feel like you’ve just run a mile, though).

A battle rope is just a long, thick, and heavy rope that has been looped around a pole at the midpoint.  By grabbing the end points of the rope and pulling or waving them in various directions, you get a full body workout. While usually used for strength training, battling ropes can be adjusted by decreasing the resistance to act as both a cardio and muscle-building exercise.

A common form of exercise using the combat ropes is to stand in a squatting position while holding the two ends of the rope and making small waves with them (Really, not as easy as it sounds). There are, however, hundreds of different motions that can be implemented.

It’s important to research the proper forms in order to get the best possible workout. Overall, battling ropes are an intuitive method for burning calories and gaining muscle that can be expanded to work every area of your body. Incorporating a combat rope into your routine will help burn fat while and help create a svelte figure.




Swimming is a less obscure form of cardio that often is thought to be for the pros and the elderly. Professional swimmers practice and compete to clock in the fastest lap times, while the elderly swim because it puts minimal stress on  their joints and muscles.  However, when incorporated as a form of cardio, it can help burn as many, if not more, calories than running or cycling.

The general concept of swimming as an exercise is simple: swim from one end of the pool to the other, turn, and repeat (most people tend to do the free-style or the front crawl). And if you don’t pace yourself, swimming can leave you winded quickly.

In addition to being a nice change in routine, swimming also provides many other benefits. As mentioned, the buoyancy of your body in the water reduces stress placed on the joints, which also will reduce the likelihood of you developing an injury.  This means that swimming is a safer alternative to most forms of running, without the risks of knee and foot pain. Also, swimming can help build muscle across your whole body, as every major muscle group in your body is engaged in some way when you’re using proper form (remember that you want your arms to cut the water).  

Finally, because of the stress your body is placed under while in water, cardiovascular and heart strength are improved to an even greater degree than when performing other traditional cardio activities Overall, swimming is a fun, and beneficial alternative to running if your fitness center has a pool available.

There are many different cardio alternatives that cause less aching and are less mind-numbingly boring than your traditional machines such as treadmills and ellipticals. So go ahead and try them out! By incorporating these different methods of cardio into your workout, you are more likely to stay motivated and on track.  In the end, this is what counts when trying to lose weight or build muscle at the gym.

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