Cardio -- short for cardiovascular -- exercise is any activity that increases your heart rate. Besides the most common activities, such as running, biking and swimming, sports like rowing, rock climbing, racquetball, tennis, inline skating and dancing can serve as challenging cardiovascular workouts. High-intensity workouts such as sprinting or jumping rope burn lots of calories and rev up the metabolism. A low-intensity cardiovascular activity such as walking for 45 minutes to an hour helps burn fat and is easier on the joints than the more vigorous options.
Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, and requires little in the way of equipment other than a good pair of running shoes. When the weather is bad, you can easily maintain your running routine with a treadmill. Jogging or walking at a brisk pace, especially on a route with hills, can also provide an excellent aerobic workout. A 155 pound person running 10-minute miles for 30 minutes burns about 372 calories.
Bicycling challenges your balance and endurance. Indoors, you can program your stationary bike to provide increased resistance to raise your heart rate. You may also like taking a stationary biking class, an instructor-guided workout with frequent changes in speed and intensity. Bicycling at 14 to 16 mph for 30 minutes burns about 372 calories.
Elliptical trainer machines have become an immensely popular method of exercise, not only because of their ease of use but also because they provide a good workout while placing little stress on the joints. Many elliptical machines have handles that allow you to work out your upper as well as your lower body. A person who weighs 145 pounds can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes.
Cross-country skiing, whether outdoors on the snow or indoors on a machine, provides a complete workout for the upper and lower body. In contrast to downhill skiing, cross-country skiing requires your body to move in a smooth, gliding motion that is easy on the joints. A 155 pound person cross-country skiing for 30 minutes burns about 298 calories.
Swimming is another sport that offers exercise for every part of the body. Many people, particular seniors, find exercising in water therapeutic for arthritic joints. Swimming the breast stroke allows you to burn about 400 calories in 30 minutes, according to ShapeFit.com.
An aerobics class is another excellent cardiovascular activity, ideal for those who enjoy a choreographed workout routine in a group setting. In particular, step aerobics classes challenge your legs, hips and gluteal muscles in addition to raising your heart rate. A half hour of aerobic dance burns about 260 calories in a 155 pound person.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.