Running is a form of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise that can get your heart pumping and your lungs working hard, in addition to burning lots of calories. If you stick with a running routine, your blood pressure and heart rate can improve and you might lose weight. No exercise is objectively better or worse than any other exercise; instead, how good an exercise is depends upon your specific needs. But running is not ideal for everyone; it's hard on the joints and some people find it tedious. You don't have to run to stay in shape. There are lots of other exercises you can do at home that offer similar benefits.
Jumping offers a similar degree of intensity to running, and if you find running tedious, you might find jumping more fun. Try jumping rope for 20 to 30 minutes each day. If you're concerned about your joints, jumping on a trampoline -- sometimes called rebounding -- can reduce the impact to your joints but offer you benefits similar to running.
Cycling, whether on a stationary bike or traditional bicycle, is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise because it's easily customized. You can start slowly and gradually increase your pace. On some stationary bikes, you can even choose whether you want the effect of cycling up an incline. For people who want an intense outdoor workout but are concerned about their joints, cycling around the neighborhood can offer many of the benefits of running without the joint pain.
Walking won't burn as many calories as running, but it can provide you with excellent cardiovascular benefits and help you burn calories without breaking a sweat. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that, if you're doing moderate-intensity cardio such as walking, you should get about 150 minutes of this kind of exercise each week.
With interval training, you'll do short bursts of intense activity followed by short bursts of less intense activity. Interval training burns more calories than traditional cardio and can also help to strengthen your muscles. You can practice interval training with any kind of cardio. Try, for example, jumping rope at full speed for one minute, then slowing down for another minute. Repeat this process for the duration of your workout.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- High Intensity Interval Training; James Driver
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.