List of Aerobic Workouts

Runner feet and shoes
(Image: mladensky/iStock/GettyImages)

Your doctor recommended you get more aerobic workouts, such as running or cycling, to help lose weight and improve your cardiovascular health. You're not a runner, though, and definitely not up for riding your bike — so what other options do you have?

Aerobic workouts use the large muscles of your body to boost your heart rate for an extended period of time. For good health, aim to perform aerobic exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week. To lose weight, up that workout time to 60 minutes most days. A variety of workouts can be classified as aerobic.

1. Walking

Walking and hiking are among the most accessible aerobic workouts you can do. You don't require anything but your two feet, a good pair of shoes and a place to go. If you don't have an outdoor space available, walk indoors on a treadmill or even in a mall.

Walking is accessible for most people, including most people with joint problems. If you find walking doesn't raise your heart rate enough, hike up hills or pick up your pace.

Adult people learning zumba steps
Dance class gets your heart working and adds fun to your session. (Image: JackF/iStock/GettyImages)

2. Dancing

Steady, non-stop dancing raises your heart rate and counts as aerobic activity. Uptempo styles, such as ballroom and hip-hop, are the most aerobic. Zumba, the popular fitness class based on Latin dance, burns an average 369 calories per class, reports the American Council on Exercise. It's highly effective and fun, which means you're likely to keep coming back and reach your goals.

3. Gym Machines

On the floor of fitness centers, you find dozens of machines that provide you with an aerobic workout. Elliptical machines, which look like gliding rails on which you pump your legs, stationary bicycles, ski machines, steppers and revolving staircases are some of the most popular options.

These machines can all give you a good workout, provided you feel comfortable using them. If you're unsure, connect with the gym staff to get a quick review. Gym machines give you the chance to watch television or read while you're going at a low to moderate intensity. Plus, because they're indoors, you don't have to worry about your workout being rained out.

Try several machines to see which ones work for you. If you have joint problems, for example, you may find the action of a revolving staircase unwelcome, but the low-impact elliptical is just right.

4. High-Impact, Low-Impact and Step Aerobics

Aerobics classes have changed a lot since Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons barked at you from a video screen. Combine heart-pumping music with dance moves, basic calisthenics, athletic movements and kickboxing to get your breath and heart rate up. Working out with a group can be motivating, but it may also be too intense for people new to working out.

5. Swimming

Water workouts offer an almost no-impact way to raise your heart rate and fit in aerobic activity. If swimming isn't for you, consider water aerobics or water walking. The buoyancy of the water supports your body weight and thus makes the exercise easy on the joints.

6. Jogging or Running

Jogging and running definitely raise your heart rate, but they aren't for a beginner. But, if you've got healthy joints, they provide a great way to progress your walking workouts. When walking is too easy, consider alternating a few minutes of walking with a few minutes of running to raise your heart rate to an aerobic level — between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to the American Heart Association.

Side view of a spinning class on exercise bikes at
Indoor cycling counts as an aerobic workout. (Image: monkeybusinessimages/iStock/GettyImages)

7. Cycling

Riding a bicycle indoors (stationary) or outdoors raises your heart rate and can improve your fitness. Riding a cruiser on the boardwalk may not be quite enough to count as an aerobic workout, however, so pump your legs and feel your breath coming at a faster rate to get aerobic benefits. Join an indoor cycling class to boost your motivation if you ride inside.

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