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10 simple exercises that will improve your cardio

Updated on January 18, 2014

Performing cardio exercises daily will not only improve your overall fitness level, but will also increase your heart rate & metabolism which are key elements in weight loss. So what is a cardio exercise? It’s any exercise that will get your heart rate up and keep it up for the duration of your workout. There are plenty of choices of cardio exercises & most can be done with no or little equipment apart from your body.

Running

Running is a great choice for a cardio workout because not only does it keep your heart rate high, burn fat & increase your metabolism, running daily helps eliminate stress, tone your leg muscles & release a hormone that will generally make you feel happier for the rest of the day! What’s more is all you need is a pair of comfortable shoes to get started.

Bicycling

If you have a bike at home or attend a spin class at the gym, cycling can be a great way to improve your cardio. Think about how you can incorporate cycling in your daily life such as taking your bike to work or cycling to your friend’s house instead of taking the car. That way you build cardio & save on petrol.

Swimming

Live near the beach? Unlike running or bicycling, swimming works your entire body, & provides an awesome cardio workout. If you don’t know how to swim, look to join a swimming class & you can be can learning a new skill and improving your overall fitness level at the same time.

Circuit training

Circuit training is a very effective way to build strength, & cardio at the same time. Each circuit is made up of several exercises that target your full body, upper body, lower body & core. The idea is to do each individual exercise for a certain number of reps or in a limited amount of time with little rest in between before moving to another exercise. Do this until you’ve completed your whole circuit.

It’s important that you alternate between working your upper body, lower body & core. This way, your upper body can rest for instance, while your lower body is at work. Then take a few minutes to rest before doing the circuit again. Try to design your own circuit so it’s challenging, gets your heart rate up & you’re able to do it at least twice.

Stairs!

The next time you want to take the elevator, give your legs a workout and build cardio by taking the stairs instead. If you have stairs at home, get creative & build your own stair exercises. You can even include them in your circuit training as a lower body workout.

Cool ideas for stair exercises!

Jumping/skipping rope exercises

If you don’t have a jumping rope and you’re serious about getting fit & improving your cardio, I recommend you buy one. It’s a simple exercise but extremely effective, especially if you want to lose weight. Start by doing a few minutes, and then gradually build it up & take short breaks in between. If you’re looking for a challenge, there are dozens of different variations of skipping rope exercises you can find online ranging from beginner to advanced.

Squash

Grab a friend, book a court & play a game of squash for an hour. Squash is a fast-paced game that will not only improve your cardio but also your hand-eye coordination. It requires you to react & move quickly around the court, be light on your feet and accurate with your hits. If you enjoy playing tennis, badminton & other racket sports, I highly recommend playing squash.

Jumping Jacks

Another simple but high intensity exercise that is easy to fit in your current workout. If you’re looking for something new, there’s plenty of variations of jumping jacks you can find online.

Burpees

A burpee is a full body exercise & is fantastic for developing cardio. While there are many, many variations of the burpee, there are two common variations you’ll see. The first and easier burpee involves squatting down to the floor, kicking both your feet back to a plank position, kicking your feet back in to a squat position and then jumping up. That counts as one. The other variation is a little harder & requires you to do a full push-up while you’re in the plank position. Burpees are a great cardio workout on their own, but they also fit well in a circuit as a full body workout.

Mountain Climbers

If you want to mix a cardio exercise in a core workout, consider mountain climbers. Mountain climbers not only boost your heart rate but also strengthen your core. To perform a mountain climber start in a push-up position, then alternate kicking your knees in up to your chest in and out.

How do I make my own cardio workout?

Don’t over think it. You can make a cardio workout simply by doing several sets of burpees with short breaks in between, or simply going for a run each morning. You can include a cardio exercise such as skipping ropes or jumping jacks into your current workout or create a separate workout that just focuses on cardio.

Got a favourite cardio workout that's not on this list? Share it in the comments below!

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