When you hear the word “running” you may have one of the two reactions: you can either totally love it or be completely mortified at the thought. I’ve found that most people are the latter, yet somehow running still remains to be the top choice for a beginner’s workout.

cardio workouts better than running

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In terms of practicality, making you feel awesome, and getting that runner’s high, it’s inevitable to say that running provides many benefits. This study even found that cardiovascular exercise (in the form of running) may target specific receptors that stimulate fat oxidation – otherwise known as burning off your fat.

cardio workouts better than running

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While many praise it for being the best way to workout, you can apply all the great reasons to many other exercises. Cardio is defined as any activity that raises the heart rate while using all the large muscle groups. With such a broad definition, there is no need to limit yourself to running. Get sweating, get motivated, and actually enjoy your cardio sesh with the workouts listed below.

1. Spinning

cardio workouts better than running

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You may be thinking — “oh great another stationary machine, how boring” — but spinning is totally different than running on a treadmill. A 45-50 minute class will consist of jumping, sprints, hill climbing, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). With a good instructor, good music, and the overall atmosphere of the class, it’s a sure-fire way to motivate you and give you a killer workout.

2. Jumping Rope

cardio workouts better than running

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This inexpensive piece of equipment can burn more calories than you’d imagine. Other benefits include improving coordination, decreasing the risk of injuries, and even developing your brain. If you need some inspiration, start off with these workout ideas.

3. Hula Hooping

cardio workouts better than running

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Ever used a hula hoop at parties and realized how much you were working your abs? Not only is it a cardio workout but it’s also been proven to slim down the waist. Check out these fun variations to get you started and if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, you could try out weighted hula hoops.

4. Circuit/HIIT

cardio workouts better than running

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Short on time but want effective results? Try circuit training that incorporates HIIT. Think jump squats, weighted lunges, burpees, pushups, jumping jacks and so on. This type of workout will improve both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, meaning you’ll be raising your heart rate while also improving that sweet muscle definition.

5. Rowing

cardio workouts better than running

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I find that most people overlook this machine a lot in the gym, when it can be so much more effective than the treadmill or elliptical. It’s different, low-impact, and can actually give you a full-body workout.

6. Swimming

cardio workouts better than running

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Swimming is the all-in-one fitness package. Due to its incredibly low impact it’s a great sport if you’re for recovering from injury, and also makes it suitable for all ages. Swimming is known to lower the risk of diseases, and it’s an incredibly refreshing way to clear your mind.

7. Hiking

cardio workouts better than running

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It goes without saying that being around beautiful surroundings always has its benefits. From lowering the risks of diseases, improving your cardiovascular fitness, and even enhancing your creativity and problem-solving skills, hiking is considered a low-impact sport that is fun and can vary depending on where you are. How could you ever get bored on these beautiful trails?

8. Zumba

cardio workouts better than running

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I love this so much because you’re always sweating loads without the feeling like you’re working out. Zumba targets every part of your body and is open to anyone. If you’re worried about looking stupid in front of others, actually use this as a reason to go. You’ll build confidence and learn to laugh at yourself, plus everyone else will just be conscious of themselves. So go ahead, shake it out and have fun with it.

9. StairMaster or Stairs

cardio workouts better than running

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The StairMaster works your glutes and thighs while giving you a killer workout. If you’re on a machine you usually can do fun challenges (up for climbing the Eiffel Tower, anyone?) and track your calories and steps perfectly. If you’re outdoors or running steps at your school you’re also gonna burn major calories and get to enjoy the outdoors at the same time.

10. Kick Boxing

cardio workouts better than running

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They say running is a great stress reliever but I personally find kickboxing to be much more effective. It can build confidence, self-esteem, and can even teach you about some basics of self-defense. You put your whole body to work and can improve agility, balance, and coordination; not to mention, you feel totally bad-ass. Check out the basics here.

11. Rock Climbing

cardio workouts better than running

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I don’t think you need the scientific evidence to reassure you that rock climbing is great for both cardiovascular fitness and muscle strengthening. Did you also know there are so many different types of climbing? This versatile exercise is amazing for your mental health – whether it’s helping you emotionally or working your cognitive function by requiring you to problem solve and pre-visualize the routes in your head.

While it may seem high-risk, it was actually proven to have one of the lowest injury rates. So there’s no danger in organizing a climbing trip with your friends, as it can also be a fun and easy way to bond.