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Good Cardio Exercises to Do at Home

by 
author image George W. Citroner
George Citroner is an Upstate NY-based medical and health journalist. His work has appeared in over 50 publications and covers a broad range of medical, health, and fitness topics.
Good Cardio Exercises to Do at Home
Good Cardio Exercises to Do at Home Photo Credit: tonefotografia/iStock/GettyImages

Just because there’s no time to get to the gym or the weather is awful isn’t any reason to skip out on a good cardio workout. There are many exercise that can raise your heart rate up to between 50 and 85 percent of its maximum — and keep it there — to give you the same health benefits. It's recommended that individuals perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

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There are many different ways to get your heart pumping without any fancy equipment or a big workout space. Try out this four-exercise aerobic circuit to get a productive cardio workout in the comfort of your own home.

Read more: Cardio Exercises

1. Mountain Climbers

This exercise has been a staple of high-school gym classes and military training for decades, and for good reason — mountain climbers will get the blood pumping fast! Mountain climbers are a compound exercise, which means you’ll train both legs and upper body for a more time-efficient workout. The running motion is incredible for leg and glute development but without the high-impact associated with long distance running.

HOW TO DO IT: Start in the push-up position with the arms straight and both legs extended behind you. To begin, bend a knee, drawing it toward the chest, placing the ball of the foot on the floor under the hip. Now, extend the bent leg back as you bring the other knee toward the chest. Continue alternating legs as the movement becomes more explosive. Five to six sets of between 15 and 20 repetitions should be enough to warm the body up for the rest of the circuit.

Read more: 5 Fat-Melting Mountain Climber Variations.

Jumping jacks provide a fantastic indoor cardio workout.
Jumping jacks provide a fantastic indoor cardio workout. Photo Credit: Pixabay

2. Jumping Jacks

This frequently neglected movement is one of the best whole-body aerobic workouts you can do. Like mountain climbers, jumping jacks work the entire lower body (including calves), stimulate the upper body as you swing your arms up and down and quickly raise your heart rate into the fat burning range.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand with hands at your side, both feet shoulder-width apart, back straight and shoulders back. Then, bend the knees slightly and jump while opening both legs wide and raising both hands overhead from each side. Next, land on the ground with feet wide and arms straight overhead. Finally, jump again and bring both feet together as the hands are lowered down to your sides again.

Like running in place, jumping jacks can be done for time instead of reps; try working up to 10 minutes of jumping jacks at a moderate pace for a good aerobic workout.

Read more: Benefits of Jumping Jacks

Burpees provide an intense cardio workout at home.
Burpees provide an intense cardio workout at home. Photo Credit: Pixabay

3. Burpees

The Burpee has enjoyed a come back recently thanks to the growing popularity of CrossFit and other forms of ‘functional’ training. Use Burpees for a fast, fat-burning, interval training workout at home or anywhere else you feel like getting some serious cardio training.

This deceptively simple movement was initially invented by a physiologist named Royal H. Burpee in 1940 as a fitness test for his doctoral thesis in applied physiology from Columbia University. It grew popular after the United States Armed Services began using it to rapidly assess the fitness level, agility, coordination and strength of recruits during World War II.

Burpees are so effective that three sets of 10 repetitions (with a 2-minute rest between sets) was second only to doing battle ropes for reaching VO2 max and raising heart rate, according to a study published by in the May 2016 American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal.

HOW TO DO IT: Assume the push-up position (the same as when doing mountain climbers), quickly bringing both legs forward into a squat with hands still on the ground, then standing straight. For an effective home cardio workout, four or five sets of 10 to 20 reps should do it.

Read more: Burpees Benefits

4. Running in Place

Running in place provides many of the same benefits as running on a treadmill or outdoors, but it can be done almost anywhere where there is enough room to stand. The trick to getting a good cardio workout is in the knees; it's important to consistently lift the knees about waist-high to quickly bring (and keep) the heart rate high enough for aerobic conditioning. Make sure to land on the balls of the feet to avoid excess impact on the knees. Five minutes of running in place is an excellent way to close out an indoor cardio training session.

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