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3 Cardio routines you can do without the gym

Linda Melone, CSCS, is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and certified personal trainer based in Orange County, CA. Visit her website at www.LindaMelone.com.

Outdoor cardio workout routines

Work, home obligations or simply a desire to avoid hot, sweaty, crowded places may be enough to make you want to skip a trip to the gym, but don't despair: You can still get a good (make that great!) cardio workout without the gym. Here are a few cardio exercise ideas to get you started -- no fitness equipment needed.

Woman energized by walk

1Interval walking

If you enjoy walking on the gym treadmill, why not take it outdoors? To make things interesting -- and to burn more calories -- try walking intervals. Start with a warmup, and then pick up the pace for designated lengths of time. Start with 30-second faster-paced intervals, and increase to two minutes or longer as you become more fit. Return to a slower pace, and then pick it up again as follows (note that walking "fast" and "moderate" are relative terms and can be adjusted to your individual fitness level):

Interval walking sample workout

  • Warm-up pace: 1 to 3 minutes
  • Fast walk: 30 seconds
  • Moderate walk: 1 minute
  • Fast walk: 30 seconds
  • Moderate walk: 1 minute

Repeat fast-walk and moderate-walk cycles for the total length of your workout, striving for 25 to 30 minutes total. Allow a few minutes at the end to cool down. Gradually increase your time spent fast walking and reduce your slower-paced intervals.

>> How to start a walking fitness program


2Power walking

Easier on the joints than running, power walking burns nearly the same number of calories, according to PowerWalkersWorld.

Get your arms in the swing and keep these power walking guidelines in mind:

  • Warm up: walk at a slow to moderate pace 1 to 3 minutes
  • Increase pace using short, quick steps (easier on the joints than long strides)
  • Practice a heel-to-toe roll: push off from the heel and roll through the foot, pushing through the big toe
  • Keep glutes tight, which incorporates low-back muscles as well
  • Pull in abdominal muscles: stand tall and tighten core muscles
  • Pump arms: keeping arms bent with fists loosely closed, bring arms back and forth as if skiing
  • Practice perfect posture: keep chest high and neck up, eyes focused straight ahead

>> Walking to improve mental and physical health


3Stair running

You can do this routine indoors on rainy or snowy days on your home stairs. For a greater challenge, go to your local high school and try this on the bleachers (for advanced exercisers only!). Beginners should start with 10- to 15-second intervals, walking up one step at a time with your arms at your sides. Gradually increase intervals, but not more than 120 seconds. If you're an avid exerciser, try running up and increase the challenge by taking two stairs at a time. Begin with a 5-minute warmup and end with a 5-minute cooldown.

A sample stair workout:

  • Warm up: Walk up and down stairs 3 to 5 minutes
  • Run up stairs: 30 seconds
  • Walk down stairs: 30 seconds

Repeat for desired amount of time, taking rest breaks as needed. Cool down.

>> Top 10 functional exercises for full-body fitness


More workout tips

>> Get more ideas! Live large, but spend small

Live large... but spend small. Read more!

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