Craving a high energy cardio workout at home? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to burn calories and increase your heart rate without leaving your bedroom or living room.
Sure, these cardio exercises may bring back memories of PE from your past. But isn’t it great that you can do loads of cardio exercises with limited space and no equipment? By doing a variety of cardio exercises, you’ll also get the benefits of added energy and mental stamina.
Once you get the hang of these simple cardio exercises, you can create an at-home calorie burning routine. By creating a home cardio workout, you can easily add extra heart pumping health into your busy schedule in a pinch.
What is cardio exercise and why is it important?
The word “cardio” stands for cardiovascular, meaning exercises that make your heart pump. Cardio exercises are high-energy activities that increase your heart rate and intake of oxygen while exercising your large muscle groups.
Cardio exercise requires continued activity for the health benefits to kick in--usually twenty minutes or longer. During this period, your heart should pump at 50 percent of its maximum rate or higher.
For optimal health, you should aim for half an hour of moderate aerobic activity five days a week (150 minutes total) or twenty-five minutes of high intensity cardio three times a week (75 minutes total).
Cardio exercise health benefits
When you add cardio activity into your weekly routine, your body will thank you. Most importantly, heart health depends on cardio activity. It keeps your weight low while reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Cardio also regulates different functions throughout your body. It reduces your blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, and strengthens the immune system. Thanks to these benefits, everyday tasks like climbing up the stairs become a breeze. In fact, cardio can improve your overall energy.
Cardio provides much needed oxygen to your blood, which travels to our brains. This helps our mental performance and mood as well.
When you make a long-term habit of cardio exercise, the benefits last well into old age. Cardio fitness can ward off dementia and increase your lifespan.
Quick tip: It's important to prevent dehydration during your workout. Read our hydration guide for personalized tips on improving daily hydration.
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9 great cardio exercises to do at home
Start by standing straight with your arms at your sides and your feet close together. Now jump to a wider stance as you lift your arms high over your head. Then return to the initial position and repeat. Continue for five to ten minutes at a high energy pace before switching to the next activity.
Jumping jacks are a great full-body exercise that work all of your main muscle groups while strengthening your core.
People often wonder: How many calories do jumping jacks burn? The answer is they generally burn about 10 calories per minute.
Get that adrenaline rush of scaling a mountain on your own floor. Start in a lunge position with one foot forward and one foot back and lean forward so both hands are placed near your front foot and your body is horizontal. Now jump so that your feet alternate positions forward and back. Do this repeatedly for several minutes at a steady pace.
Crab walk exercise
Sit on the floor with your hands behind your shoulders and your feet facing forward about hip distance apart. Lift your behind off the ground, so you’re supported by your hands and feet. Move your left foot and right arm forward one step and then alternate to the other foot and arm to take the next step. You can also reverse the direction and go backwards, which may feel somewhat easier.
Practice this exercise for roughly five minutes by moving forward and backwards about three to four steps each direction. It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.
The crab walk exercise works many muscles that don’t get much attention during more upright activities. You’ll use your triceps, shoulders, abdominal muscles, and quads.
Step forward with one leg and bend your knee as you reach backward with the other leg. Keep your torso straight and lower your center of gravity until your front knee and hip create a right angle.
Next, stand on your forward facing foot while you swing your back leg up into a forward kick and then return to the lunge position. Repeat this alternating action for several minutes before switching sides.
Squatting looks a lot like sitting in an invisible chair. Add a cardio element to this classic exercise by alternating it with a high jump in the air.
Start with your feet hip-distance apart and allow your knees to bend as you lower your behind towards the ground. Keep your back straight and steady yourself by holding your arms out in front of you.
Hold for a count of three seconds. Then jump up into the air with both feet as high as possible. Use your arms to help push you into the air by thrusting them downward. Then return to the squatting position with your arms held forward.
Squats strengthen your core and hip flexors. They strengthen muscles that don’t get much activity while jogging.
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Stand upright with your feet planted below your shoulders. Lean down, bending your knees and touch the ground with both hands in front of your feet. Jump back to a forward-facing plank position.
Do a push-up. Jump back to your squatting position. Then jump up with both feet in the air until you land back at your starting position. Repeat this series of movements for several minutes at a steady pace.
Burpees are a full-body, high calorie burning cardio exercise that will give you maximum heart health benefits. Try to pace yourself, because burpees can quickly become tiring.
Stand upright with your feet hip distance apart. Tuck your elbows into your side and hold your hands out, palms down, perpendicular to the ground. Jump up with both feet at once and try to touch your hands with both knees. Do this continuously for a few minutes before switching to another exercise.
Bodyweight cardio exercises
When you start in plank position, you automatically use the weight of your body to move anywhere else. Starting in this position gives you lots of opportunities to jump, lift or lower your legs, arms, knees, elbows and core in a wide variety of positions.
Bodyweight cardio variants include the donkey jump, the jumping lunge (like a low-to the ground running man dance move), plank to knee tap, etc. Use your bodyweight to maximize your strength as you complete your cardio workouts at home.
Cardio kickboxing exercises
Kickboxing combines knee lifts, kicks and punches in alternating movements. Whether you’re doing side kicks, front kicks, fast punches or combos of high knees followed by high kicks, you’ll get loads of energizing cardio exercise without taking up much space.
Build your own cardio workout at home
Get creative and build your own routines that work your different muscle groups. Try to start with a ten minute warm-up followed by a twenty minute high-energy flow and a five minute cool down. This pacing will help you get the benefits of cardio exercise in the time it takes to watch a TV series. By mixing and matching these exercises, you can choose activities that perfectly suit your physical capabilities.