Alternative Exercises to Running

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Running is one of the best cardiovascular exercises, but too often runners get caught up in a running routine that is dull. When that happens, the benefits of running are not as apparent. Too much running can also take its toll on the knees and joints of many runners. Either of these instances justify taking up other cardio exercises that still burn the calories.


Swimming has many benefits. It's is a low-impact activity, which means that your knees and joints won't suffer as much. Swimming also improves cardiorespiratory fitness, which is a great advantage for runners in general. Swimming builds muscle mass, especially in the upper body, so your muscles will benefit from a consistent swimming session. Finally, when it is too hot outside, swimming is a great alternative for beating the heat.

Elliptical Trainer

The elliptical trainer is one of the most popular fitness studio machines, and it is easy to understand why. Ellipticals have the potential to provide a high-intensity cardio workout that is easy on the knees. Spending 30 to 45 minutes on an elliptical trainer is a great alternative to the jarring and pounding your knees undergo during a run. The smooth, continuous motion and varying levels of resistance an elliptical provides places a lot of focus on major leg muscles. The pedaling motion is also reversible and counteracts the muscle movements going forward. This keeps your muscles working harder and provides some variety for your workout. Most elliptical trainers also feature handlebars that are synchronized with the foot-pedal movement. In a sense, the elliptical nearly replicates the complete running motion without the impact of hitting the ground.

Recumbent Bike

The recumbent bike is an excellent alternative cardio exercise for runners who experience back or knee problems. In contrast to a traditional upright stationary bike, the recumbent bike has a lower seat that is positioned behind the pedals. The user sits on the bike as he would in a recliner. This takes significant pressure off the back and knees. Most modern recumbent bikes feature a lumbar mechanism for proper back support. Many bikes come with self-balancing foot pedals that provide a smooth and muscle-targeted ride. Other technology commonly found on recumbent bikes include handle bars that measure the heart rate, LCD panels that display workout details and a computer with preprogrammed workout routines.

Play with Others

Not all exercise has to be a solitary endeavor. If you love sports, like tennis or baseball, see if you can join a local league. Join a fitness class at the gym or rec center. Not only will if get you out, but you'll be having fun in a group setting. At the very least you can ask a friend to join you for brisk walks or a hike in a scenic setting. Hiking over rugged terrain not only burns calories, but eases stress and is nourishing for your soul.