Diverse Cardio Alternatives

Get your heart pumping with some fun and games.


By Emily


Some of the most common alternatives to using cardio machines are jogging outdoors, cycling, rollerblading, jumping rope and swimming. Here are some less common and more diverse activities that are sure to get your heart pumping!

Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee is a trending, non-contact sport that is similar to soccer except with a throwing disc or Frisbee, and also like football in that there are end-zones instead of goals. Being that most of the time on the field is spent running, this is a terrific cardiovascular workout and a fun game to play with friends or family.


This paddle sport is a combination of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. Essentially, it’s like ping-pong played with a wooden paddle and a whiffle ball on a tennis court. It can be played in teams of two or four, and is commonly played by retired or beginning tennis players.

Rock climbing

If you like intense upper back and shoulder workouts, and you aren’t afraid of heights, then you’ll love rock climbing! Indoor climbing gyms will typically let you rent equipment, so you don’t have to worry about owning your own. Of course there are safety precautions in place and depending on the facility, a two-person belaying class to take, which could be a fun date or activity to establish trust with another person. Outdoor rock climbing is another thrilling option if you live within reasonable distance to a point of climbing access.

Kayaking/paddle boarding

This is an activity that really strengthens your back muscles, as if you were using the rowing machine in the gym. The difference is the smell of fresh air and ability to jump in the water to cool off after you’re finished! An average amount of balance is required to perform this type of activity, and you could double the fun by getting a two-person raft and working together with a partner!

If you don’t live near any bodies of water, then you should consider going kayaking or paddle boarding the next time you’re planning a trip! You’re assured to see beautiful views, and get your heart pumping.


So, this can get more complex than you’d imagine. There are actually several exercises you can do with a hula hoop, including a graceful form of dance. If you ever want to squeeze in an abdominal workout and look fabulous at the same time, then try hula hooping.

Jumping on a trampoline

Most of us did this when we were children, but we enjoyed jumping on a trampoline as a form of play, and not exercise. If you can continue to see it this way, then you’re in for a lot of fun! If you don’t have access to a trampoline readily, try searching the Internet for which indoor jumping facilities are the closest to you! Indoor jumping facilities will bring you back to when you were a kid, and you’ll be exhausted when you’re done playing.


This is an excellent way to get a workout in all while catching breathtaking views. However , hiking equipment can be expensive, and there are many people who don’t live near mountains or other favorable hiking terrains. So, if this interests you, then start saving and planning your next vacation around this adventure and you won’t be disappointed.

Virtual reality games

This could be the beginning of a new exercise trend! People have been satisfying their cardiovascular needs through playing intense video games using a virtual reality headset and two handheld controllers. This is a similar concept to the Wii Fit back in 2008, but with advanced technology. Examples of games available to play are Fruit Ninja VR, Audioshield, Sword Master VR, and Bitslap.

Playing activities and games as fun as these will make you forget you’re even working out, or fail to realize it! It could also bring you closer to your family and friends, and even allow you to make some new friends. So give these activities a try, because accidentally doing cardio is certainly not anything to complain about.

Emily is in the program Mass Communications: Journalism and Media Studies at the University of South Florida in Saint Petersburg. She is also a writer for the technology based blog, the Gadgeteer, and in her free time she contributes to her school's newspaper, the Crows Nest. On the weekends, you might find her at the Saturday Morning Market working under the Mother Kombucha tent or blissfully rollerblading in Vinoy Park. Emily is a self-proclaimed fitness guru, and is psyched to merge her love for healthy living and writing together. Follow Emily on Instagram or contact her at

Main Photo Credit: zhukovvvlad/; Second Photo Credit: Rock and Wasp/; Third Photo Credit: Popartic/; Fourth Photo Credit: adriaticfoto/