This blog was originally written by Paige for Vega and appeared on MyVega.com
At my last 9-5 job I worked with many athletes, mainly endurance athletes. I was literally the only one in my department that is not a runner and has not done a marathon. But no shame here; my training is in functional athletics. However cardio training, or aerobic conditioning, is important for heart health and overall fitness levels, for athletes of all types.
If you’re like me and dreaded the timed mile test in high school or the thought of “going for a run” sounds excruciating, you’ll love my favorite fun cardio workouts that are not running:
If you haven’t been on a trampoline yet, or since childhood, you are missing out. I just got a mini one for my home as a way to encourage myself to do more cardio. The benefits of bouncing on a trampoline are said to include invigoration of the heart and cardiovascular system while being gentle on your joints and tissues and may even support the lymphatic system (an important portion of the immune and vascular systems). It can also be used for improving your balance as well. Some athletes use trampolines to improve their speed, jump and anaerobic performances. 1 If you don’t want to invest in one for your home, many gyms now offer classes using this equipment or better yet there are trampoline parks where you can take your entire family to play.
Jumping rope is like a little black dress: simple, classic and never goes out of style. It also has the benefit of being portable; if you’re traveling, pack one in your suitcase and it hardly takes up any room. Whether you’re in a gym or outside in the sunshine jumping rope is great way to achieve cardio benefits and shows potential for improving shoulder strength as well. 2
Rowing is one of my new favorite workouts. As a full body movement it gets your heart rate up, making it an effective cardiovascular exercise and is a great deal of fun. Some of the rowing machines (ergs) even have games that you play as you row. You row much faster when you are a little fish trying to not be eaten! High-intensity and short duration rowing is said to preserve skeletal muscle function and structure, in addition to playing a role in preventing atrophy in antigravity muscles (joint stabilizing muscles such as quadriceps, glutes, and spinal erectors—muscles of the lower back).3 A quick internet search can help you find rowing clubs near you so you can experience this activity outdoors and meet other people interested in fitness.
If you haven’t noticed I love movement that doesn’t feel like a workout. Finding an activity that you enjoy doing is a great way to ensure that you’ll continue with it.
What are your favorite fun workouts that are great for the cardiovascular system?
- Karakollukcu M, Aslan CS, Paoli A, et al. (2014) Effects of mini trampoline exercise on male gymnasts’ physiological parameters: a pilot study. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
- Duzgun I, Baltaci G, Colakoglu F, et al. (2010) The effects of jump-rope training on shoulder isokinetic strength in adolescent volleyball players. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 19(2):184-99.
- Krainski F, Hastings JL, Heinicke K, et al. (2014). The effect of rowing ergometry and resistive exercise on skeletal muscle structure and function during bed rest. Journal of Applied Physiology. 116(12):1569-81.