There are two types of people in this world — those who absolutely love running or jogging, and those who truly despise it. If you belong to the latter, then good news, because you don’t have to run if you don’t want to — but we’ll get back to that later.
Running is a form of exercise — more specifically, an aerobic cardiovascular exercise. This means it promotes the health of your heart and has a whole host of other benefits — a huge decrease in the risk of developing heart diseases, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and is very adept at burning flab to help you lose weight. It’s very easy and free — you don’t need specialised equipment to start, just a pair of legs and a path to follow.
With so many benefits, why do some people still dislike running as a form of exercise? For starters, running is hard work. After a hard day at school or work, the last thing on our minds is exerting our bodies and going for a run. You move your body at a fast pace till you feel breathless, sweat drips off of you — it’s just uncomfortable and gross. What’s more, running can be damaging to your knees — the impact of your body weight resting on your legs while they hit the pavement hard and fast can cause severe knee injuries in the long run.
So what can you do if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy? Lucky for you, there are many other forms of cardiovascular exercises that provide the same benefits as running — here are five of them.
Skipping, otherwise known as jump rope, is great at building lower body and leg strength. Using a rope and holding both ends of the rope — one in each hand — you use your hands to swing the rope over the top of your head and bring it down to the floor. When it reaches your feet, jump up on the spot and let the rope pass under you, essentially doing a loop around your body. This process can go on for as long as you can handle. Skipping is great at burning calories, and the intensity and speed are determined by you.
Cycling Or Spinning
Cycling on a bicycle or spinning on an exercise bike are increasingly popular forms of cardio exercise. Cycling works your legs, especially your glutes and thigh muscles, and is great at burning calories too. Best of all, cycling is low impact, so your knees won’t suffer long-term damage, making this the perfect cardio option for people with existing injuries.
Spinning is also just as great, and spin classes are a great way to work out together with friends. These classes involve participants to cycle on an exercise bike and follow the rhythm of the thumping music. In fact, research has shown a 30-minute spin class can help you burn off the same amount of calories as a 45-minute high-intensity run.
If you feel more at home in the water, good news! Swimming is also a great calorie-burning cardio exercise. Using your arms and legs to push yourself forward in the water can work your whole body. Because of the high density of the water, your body works harder to push back against the resistance it feels, and this promotes upper body muscle growth. Swimming is also a low-impact form of exercise, so your knees and other joints will not suffer in the future. Try different strokes — such as breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle — to add some variety to your swim.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Also known as HIIT, these workouts are usually fast-paced and highly intense, but they are typically short in duration. The idea behind HIIT training is to effectively burn fat through quick bursts of fast movement and very short rest periods in between sets. This way, your heart rate stays up and gets a good workout, which leads to more effective calorie-burning. In fact, when compared with running, HIIT workouts are better at burning fat and working the heart. However, HIIT is, as the name implies, highly intensive, and as such, it should not be attempted by beginners as they could hurt themselves.
Boxing And Other Martial Arts
There’s a reason why all professional boxers and sports fighters are in such great shape, and that’s because boxing and most martial arts are physically-intensive sports. To be a boxer, you need a lot more than knowing how to throw a punch — you need speed and agility to dodge your opponent, you need good stamina to last you through a few rounds, and of course you need the strength to take your opponent out — which is why boxing is a cardio-intense workout. Learning and practicing jabs and crosses, as well the quick movements needed to dodge, will get your heart rate going and help to burn fat.