With fitness centers temporarily closed, more people are taking to the streets and parks for exercise. We get it — running is great for your physical and mental health and an easy option for cardiovascular exercise when you don’t have access to a gym. But if you’re scratching your head when your friends or colleagues talk about the runner’s high, you’re not alone. Running is not appealing to everybody. If you prefer lower-impact exercise or simply don’t enjoy pounding the pavement, there are plenty of other ways to get your heart rate up. Some of our personal trainers and group exercise instructors share their favorite cardio exercises.  

Plank Jacks 

Plank jacks engage your core and get your heart pumping—fast!  

  • Come into a plank position, either on your hands or forearms, with your feet together.  
  • In one motion, hop both feet away from each other (without losing your plank) until they are about shoulder-width or mat-width apart. 
  • Hop your feet back together, maintain core engagement, and repeat for 30 to 60 seconds. 

Modifications: A great way to tell whether you are maintaining a plank position without having the reference of a mirror is to place a book or magazine across your lower back. If the book slides off or bounces, start slower, and instead of hopping your feet, step them out from side to side, focusing on keeping the book as steady as possible while you do so. Stepping instead of hopping is also a great option to avoid impact on your spine.  

-Jamie Bartholoma, group exercise instructor  

 

Jump Rope  

Jumping rope works your whole body and burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time.  

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes. Alternate jumping rope for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest. As you get more advanced, reduce the amount of rest. 

-Gerre Bettis, pro trainer  

 

Burpees  

Burpees combine squat jumps, pushups, and getups. Just one set is a surefire way to get your heart rate up. Play the song "Roxanne" by The Police. Every time you hear the word, "Roxanne,” do a burpee. Be warned: The end of the song is tough. You may not like the song after one round, but you will feel accomplished after completing over 35 burpees.  

  • Put your weight in your heels to come into a squat position.  
  • Place your hands on the ground and jump your feet back so you land in a plank.  
  • Do one pushup.  
  • Jump your feet back into a low squat.  
  • Reach your arms overhead and jump in the air.  

-Jim Crawley, group exercise instructor  

 

High-Intensity Cardio Circuit  

A circuit consists of multiple exercises. When you’re doing circuit training for cardio, focus on speed without sacrificing form. Without a rest, complete the following six exercises. After the sixth exercise, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat three to five times. 

  • 30 seconds of jumping jacks.  
  • 30 seconds of squats: Place your feet shoulder-width apart, place your weight in your heels, and sit back like you would in an imaginary chair. Return to starting position.  
  • 10 walkouts to pushups: Start in standing position. Keeping your legs straight, bring your hands to the floor and walk out to plank position. Do a pushup, then walk your hands back to your feet to return to starting position.  
  • 30 seconds of mountain climbers: Start in plank position. Alternate bringing your right knee to your right elbow and left knee to left elbow.  
  • 30-second side plank: Start on your side with your feet together and elbow directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips into a side plank. (Do the opposite side on the next round.) 
  • One-minute high plank  

-Debbie Matthews, pro trainer   

 

Dance! 

This one is simple. Put on your favorite music that makes you want to boogie. Dancing is a great way to relieve stress, have fun, and move your body in a way that doesn’t feel like work. Get your family involved and have your kids to teach you the latest TikTok dance trends, have a group dance-off with your friends on Zoom, or, if you live alone, truly dance like no one is watching. If you have good taste, your neighbors won’t mind the music. Otherwise, you can always use headphones.  

-Jamie Bartholoma, group exercise instructor 

 

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