Top 10 Cardio Exercises

By: Paige Waehner

Top 10 Cardio Exercises

You already know that one of the most important things you can do for your weight loss goals is regular cardio exercise. There are so many choices out there...which exercises are the most effective? Below are the best cardio activities for blasting calories and getting in great shape.

1. Running
Running is one of best activities you can do. It doesn't require special equipment (except some quality shoes) and you can do it anywhere. Best of all, you burn serious calories, especially if you add hills and sprints. A 145-lb person can burn 300 (at 5.2 mph) in 30 minutes.

2. Cross-Country Skiing
Whether you're on a gym machine or swooshing over miles of snow, cross-country skiing is an incredible cardio exercise. What makes it so great is that it involves your upper and lower body, which means it doesn't take much to get your heart rate soaring. A 145-lb person burns about 330 calories during 30 minutes of skiing. The downside is: it's HARD. Take your time and ease into it.

3. Bicycling
Outdoors or indoors, cycling gives some great cardio. Using all the power in your legs, you'll increase endurance while burning lots of calories, anywhere from 250-500 in 30 minutes, depending on how fast you go and how high your resistance is.

4. Elliptical Trainer
The elliptical trainer is a great way to build endurance while protecting your aching joints from high impact activities. Plus, if you use one with arms, it's just like using a cross-country ski machine. The elliptical trainer is also a good choice for runners looking for a break from pounding the pavement.

5. Swimming
Swimming, like cross-country skiing, is a full body exercise. The more body parts you involve in your workout, the more calories you'll burn. Spend 30 minutes doing the breastroke and you'll burn almost 400 calories. Best of all, your joints are fully supported so you don't have to worry about high-impact injuries. It's also great cross-training for other cardio activities.

6. Step Aerobics
Step aerobics has yet to lose its luster for many gym-goers and it's a good thing. Step is one tough workout that targets your legs, butt and hips while burning almost 400 calories in 30 minutes (during high intensity sessions). Though it might look complicated, step is easy to learn if you start with a beginner class or video.

7. Rowing
This is an often overlooked machine in the gym because most people are confused about how it works. Vigorous rowing can really get your heart rate up while working your arms like crazy. Plus, it's probably not something you do very often which means you'll burn even more calories. In 30 minutes, a 145-lb person can burn about 300 calories.

8. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing burns a whopping 380 calories in 30 minutes, but this isn't an activity for the faint of heart. Though you use strength and power with your arms and legs, rock climbing has a high learning curve and requires lots of special equipment and techniques so you don't hurt yourself.

9. Walking
If you put a little oomph into it, walking is a great exercise, burning about 180 calories in 30 minutes. Adding hills, sprints or even a few minutes of jogging can increase the amount of calories you burn.

10. Handball
Okay, I'm not just putting this in here because my husband plays handball (and very well, I might add). Similar to racquetball (but without the racquet), the side-to-side sprints will get your heart rate up as well as strengthen your legs. The learning curve is high, so plan on practicing a lot before you can even hit that little ball. A 145-lb person burns over 400 calories in 30 minutes.

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