Running can be a great exercise, it can also be boring, tedious and painful. If you love running then by all means keep doing it. If you don’t like it then do not feel obliged to do it just to be healthy. There is nothing about running that makes it a more healthy activity than any other and you can have incredibly good heart health without ever running at all. Today I will share with you some alternatives to running that will give you just as much benefit as running if not more.
Walking up a steep hill or a set of stairs can be a hugely challenging cardio exercise. If you live in an apartment building, try simply walking the entire staircase from bottom to top a few times. To make it a bit harder try walking up 2-3 steps at a time. This will get your heart working as well as a lot of your leg muscles. If you have a big slope nearby try walking up it as fast as you can and repeating through a few times.
Bushwalking is one of the most enjoyable ways to exercise your cardiovascular system. You also get the added bonus of fresh air and scenic views. Also, as above there are often hills involved which will challenge you even further. Look for national parks near where you live as they will often have a big variety of walking tracks from beginner to more experienced.
The amount of sports that will give you great cardio exercise is too long to list. Sports like soccer, squash, tennis, basketball are just a few examples of sports that will get your heart racing. If you regularly play sport you are probably getting a good amount of cardio in already. Sport is an enjoyable way to exercise without having to focus just on running.
Pushing and pulling
Loaded pushes and pulls are very challenging. Ideally you need a small amount of equipment to do these exercises but you can improvise if you don’t have access. A prowler sled pictured below, is a heavy object designed to be pushed and pulled. You can take these to an oval and push them over the grass or attach a harness or rope and pull it along behind you. While it may look easy I can assure you after 5-10 laps of this you will have done enough cardio for the day. If you don’t have access to a sled, you can even get a rope and attach it to an old tire and pull it behind you.
Boxercise or Dance Classes
Many gyms now offer boxing and dance classes. Boxing can be a good option for people with lower body injuries who can’t do many other forms of cardio. It can be very fun and is a good way of breaking up the routine of exercise. Dance classes are also a fun way to integrate cardio exercises into your weekly routine.
These are a relatively new thing in the fitness world. Essentially it is just a long and thick rope. If you have a big enough area you can do these in your backyard or alternatively a local oval. You simply wrap the rope around a stable position and try various ways of throwing the rope up and down. Like the sled this looks easy but it is actually very challenging. There will be a post or video about these ropes to come.
I know I know I said no running, but sprinting is different. Many people who hate running at a medium pace still enjoy a good sprint. Sprinting also takes a lot less time to get a big benefit. If you are going to sprint make sure you warm up with a good 10 minute walk and a few slower sprints. Then try about 5-10 all out sprints of 100metres on an oval with a few minutes break in between. You will get your heart rate up and it can be a lot more enjoyable than steady running.
There are many ways to be fit without running. If you do not want to run then don’t do it. Find the type of cardio exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. If you get bored easily then try to vary through many of the above options.
I hope this was helpful and if you have any questions or comments please leave them below.