In an ideal world, the weather would be a perfect 72-degrees with the sun shining, and you’d have no problem fitting in an outdoor, cardio workout at any hour of the day. However, it just doesn’t work that way. Life happens and getting outside isn’t an option. Therefore, you may need to move your conditioning exercise indoors.
Cardio is an important part of a regular workout regimen, with many benefits including:
- Increase brain power
- Stimulate circulation to the skin
- Improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Reduces fatigue and shortness of breath
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Improves bone health
- Uplifts mood and self-esteem
- Relieves stress, anxiety and tension
- promotes long-lasting energy throughout the day
- Enhances sleep
- Boosts the immune system
With that said, it’s important to not let bad weather or a difficult schedule interfere with your ability to exercise, especially a cardio workout. Not to worry though; you have many options when it comes to indoor cardio workouts to help you stay in shape.
1. Indoor Cardio Equipment
Having your own equipment at home makes it easy to keep workouts consistent. If you think that home exercise equipment is expensive or takes up a lot of space, you’ll be surprised! At-home gym equipment has come a long way from the big and bulky machines of the past. There are many options that will give you a great workout and can still fit in the smallest space without breaking your budget. Here are some affordable indoor cardio equipment options for your home:
- Elliptical: An elliptical machine allows you to work out all of your major muscles in your legs and core while getting a great cardio workout at the same time. With many budget-friendly options, you can easily find one that works for you. If space is an issue, check out this light-weight and compact elliptical trainer that can even be used while sitting down.
- Bikes: Riding a bike, whether it is an upright or recumbent, is another great option for the at-home workout. Bikes provide an easy way to increase your heart rate and get in a great cardio exercise. There are great options if you’re short on space, such as foldable bikes or mini-cycles.
- Treadmill: The treadmill is a piece of equipment most people think of when cardio exercise at home comes to mind. Treadmills offer a great way to get your cardio workout in, whether you run or walk on one. It offers many different options and is a staple for any home gym.
- Mini Trampoline: Remember how much fun it was to jump on a trampoline as a kid? Well, exercising on a mini trampoline is a great way to get your cardio activity in while still having fun. It’s a low impact activity that’s easy on your joints, simple to do while watching TV, and still a calorie scorcher.
2. Indoor Cardio Using Body Weight
You don’t need to have special exercise equipment to get in a great cardio workout; your body will do just fine! The best part about bodyweight workouts are their adaptability and convenience. You can take these exercises anywhere; from a hotel room to your office during lunch hour.
There are many different bodyweight exercises that you can do, making it easy to switch up your routine. Here are some common bodyweight movements:
- Burpees: Start by standing up. Put your hands on the floor by your feet and then kick your feet out behind you into the plank position. If you wish, you can perform a pushup, or you can jump your feet back into a tucked squat position with your hands on the ground. Jump straight up into the air and repeat the move.
- Jump squats: Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump up into the air and when you land, move into a squat position with your thighs parallel to the ground. Jump back into the air and repeat.
- High knees: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring your right knee up as high as it will go and raise the opposite arm. Quickly switch, by bringing your right knee down and the left knee up. Continue to switch knees quickly.
- Jump lunges: Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Jump up and quickly lower yourself into a lunge with your right leg forward. Jump up and switch legs in the air so that you land in a lunge with your left leg forward. Continue to switch legs as quickly as you can.
- Tuck jumps: Stand with your feet together. Bend your knees and jump into the air, tucking your knees into your chest. Release your knees and land back on your feet.
- Mountain climbers: Begin in the plank position. Bend your right knee and bring it into your chest. Quickly switch legs by straightening your right leg and bending your left knee into your chest. Continue to switch legs.
- Jumping jacks: Start with your feet together and your hands at your side. In one fluid motion jump to move your legs out to the side and raise your arms above the head. Then jump to put your feet back together and your arms back at your side. Continue the movements.
- Long jump with jog back: Stand up straight, bend your knees and jump forward as far as you can. After you land, jog backwards to where you started, and repeat by jumping forward again.
- Jump rope: You can perform this movement with or without a jump rope. If you are in a tight space, simply hold your hands at your side and mimic the movement as though you are holding the rope.
Try performing these moves in an interval pattern. Start with one of these exercises for a set period of time and then add a rest period. If you’ve never worked out before, start with 30 or 45 seconds of exercise, followed by 30 seconds of rest. You can cycle through some or all of these activities, or add in other exercises like planks or arm/leg exercises to bring in a strength component as well.
Aim for around 20 to 30 minutes of activity, which may mean cycling through your exercises 2-3 times.
3. Using Items Around The House
In addition to using exercise equipment or performing bodyweight exercises, you’d be surprised to find some household items useful for staying healthy. Here are some ideas:
- Stairs: If you have a staircase in your house, it’s a great way to fit in some cardio. Try jogging up and down the stairs to get your heart rate up. You can also use the stairs to do intervals. Run up and down for a few minutes, and then perform a bodyweight exercise. Repeat using different movements, or just rest.
- DVD player: Fitness videos are a great way to motivate your workouts. Try a Zumba, kickboxing, or any type of cardio at-home videos. If you don’t have a DVD player, check out YouTube for free cardio workouts that you can do in the comfort of your own living room.
- Music: Throw on your favorite upbeat dance music and bust a move! Dancing can burn a lot of calories and is a ton of fun. The more you get into it, the more calories you’ll burn. YouTube has many choreography workout videos that you can follow along as well. Aim for at least 30 minutes of dancing.
- Deck of cards: Grab a deck of cards and a list of exercises (you can start with the body weight exercises listed above if you need some ideas) and draw a random card from the deck. Perform the first exercise the number of times listed on the card. Work your way down the list and through the deck of cards.
The Bottom Line
Working out isn’t something that has to be done at the gym or outside. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy to fit in a workout whenever and wherever you can. Whether you have the space and budget for specific gym equipment or are getting started with simple bodyweight exercises, there is always an activity that you can do to stay fit.
From head to toe: The benefits of a cardio workout (Infographic). (2016, February 2). Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/head-toe-benefits-cardio-workout-infographic/
Lefkowith, C. (2015, May 14). 20 Bodyweight cardio exercises and workouts that aren’t running. Retrieved from https://redefiningstrength.com/20-bodyweight-cardio-exercises-and-workouts-that-arent-running/
Williams, L. (2014, January 12). 5 Cardio workouts you can do at home. Retrieved from http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1027445/5-cardio-workouts-you-can-do-at-home