Walking is one of the recommended forms of aerobic exercise. It’s easy and effective, and almost anyone can do it. But there’s one small problem. Walking can be boring. Luckily, there are several other forms of aerobic activity -- exercises that get the heart rate up and burn calories. These other activities -- swimming and aerobics, for example -- can be just as effective as walking.
Since the 1980s fitness craze, aerobics has been a popular aerobic activity. Like walking, it works both the upper and lower body and gets the heart rate up. It’s recommended by MayoClinic.com as one of the alternative exercises for walking. It also meets the MayoClinic.com's 10 benefits of aerobic exercise. It sheds pounds, increases stamina, strengthens the heart and manages chronic conditions such as high blood pressure. What’s more, the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine recommends aerobics dancing for fitness -- provided that you wear the proper athletic shoes.
Swimming is another exercise recommended by MayoClinic.com as an alternative for walking. It’s a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Like walking, it’s a total-body exercise, but it’s easy on the joints because the water acts as the resistance. According to Bucknell University, swimming improves muscle strength, flexibility and balance. It's effective for people of all ages, even those with weight limitations and asthma. A study originally conducted by McMaster University in Canada suggests that swimming can actually improve the aerobic fitness levels of people suffering from asthma.
Zumba, the Latin dance exercise, is an option if you want to have fun while you work out. According to Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of MayoClinic.com, it's an aerobic dance that can improve cardiovascular endurance if performed at a moderate intensity level. In other words, you should be breaking a sweat and feeling the burn. If not, then you’re not working hard enough. When performed at a moderate intensity level, Zumba is quite effective at increasing the heart rate and strengthening the muscles -- just like walking.
If you’re tired of walking, hop on a bike. According to the Cleveland Clinic, cycling is an ideal alternative for walking -- especially for those that are more than 50 pounds overweight. Why is that? Cycling is low impact and easier on the the joints than walking. But like the other exercises, cycling still increases the heart rate, burns calories and works the leg muscles. It also increases cardiovascular endurance over time. Cycle inside -- on a stationary bike -- or outside. Either way, it’s definitely a comparable exercise to walking.
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical: What Aerobic Exercise Does for Your Health
- MayoClinic.com: Fitness: Aerobic Exercise
- American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine: What is Aerobic Dancing?
- Bucknell University: Swimming Benefits Information
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart and Vascular Health & Prevention What Is The Best Type of Aerobic Exercise?
- MayoClinic.com: What is Zumba?
- National Institute of Health: Swimming and Asthma. Benefits and Deleterious Effects.
Based in Atlanta, Mya Passmore has been writing since 2010, covering health and business topics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from George Washington University.