Most exercisers know that there are two vital components to a successful fitness program. First, you want to build muscles by participating in weight training and resistance activities. Second, you must keep your heart healthy with cardiovascular fitness activities, usually just called “cardio.” Unfortunately, many people find cardio, specifically running, to be a tedious challenge. The solution to this is, thankfully, quite simple; pick a new activity!

Let us give you a few ideas on good cardio workouts.

There are a lot more cardio activities than one might imagine. However, many people get trapped by the idea that a good cardio workout must include running. This is simply not true. There are literally dozens of activities that can get your heart rate up and produce the amazing benefits that come with regular cardio activity.

Just what are these benefits that have fitness experts raving about cardio? Well, first and foremost, a good cardio workout strengthens your heart. This helps reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and even a heart attack. A good cardio workout also burns a large amount of calories, which is great for helping you achieve your weight loss goals. Plus, as you burn fat, the muscles you have, become more visibly defined. This makes cardio a key ingredient for six-pack abs. Finally, a good cardio workout improves your stamina and endurance. This means daily activities get easier, sports become more enjoyable, and strength training can be done for longer, tougher sessions.

Getting back to the varieties of cardio, it is true that running gets a lot of attention in the fitness world. However, not everyone enjoys running and even regular joggers should mix up their cardio to challenge their bodies in new ways. So, let’s take a look at some of the other good cardio workout options that are available to get your heart pumping and sweat flowing.

A good cardio workout should consist of activities you enjoy both indoors and out. If you prefer the comfort of your home gym or the community of the local gym, your best choice is one of the many pieces of cardiovascular equipment commercially available. These include the staple treadmill and the traditional stationary bike. Bikes are great for cardio health and promote lower body strength without putting as much shock on joints as the treadmill does. Plus, those who like to bike can take their activity outdoors when the weather is nice or join a spin class for a group cardio session. Indoor cardio can also include the elliptical trainer, which is an excellent workout because it combines upper and lower body movement.

For those who prefer the outdoors, running and biking seem to be the norm and are also good cardio workouts. However, rigorous hiking, rowing, rock climbing, and swimming are also great activities. If you live near the beach, you can also add surfing to your workout regimen. Finally, playing outdoor sports that require multiple athletic skills also counts towards your much-needed cardio. So, get out there and join a soccer team, hit the ski slopes, or play a game of tennis.

Ultimately, each new cardio exercise you try will challenge your body in a unique way. For example, biking will work certain leg muscles that are not engaged while rowing. To create your best body, you will want to mix up your routine and incorporate more than one of these cardio exercises. And if after reading this, you still are in need of a good cardio workout, let me recommend the new ChaLEAN Extreme program or perhaps P90X. Both of these programs have excellent cardio workouts, as well as weight training routines. These are complete programs with fitness guides and nutritional guides as well. Remember, regardless of what you decide, you should aim to get at least 30-40 minutes of moderate intensity cardio and/or weight training at least five days per week.