Top 10: Cardio Workouts

We all know that cardio is an essential part of staying fit, but doing cardio can mean more than just going on the treadmill. If you’re tired of running on a treadmill, here are 10 alternative cardio activities to get your heart racing.

1. Swimming

Swimming is an amazing way to exercise: not only is it a great cardio activity, but it also develops a wide range of muscles and improves your posture. Even better, UBC students can swim for free at the Aquatic Centre!

2. Jumping Rope

Jumping rope is another effective and inexpensive alternative. Set yourself a goal for each day, whether it’s 1000 jumps or 10 minutes.

3. Cycling

Now that Vancouver’s weather is picking up again (fingers crossed!) cycling is an easy way to incorporate cardio into your day. Try indoor cycling at the gym, or if you own a bike, try cycling for 10 or more minutes around campus – or you can venture to more scenic routes like the Seawall.

4. Stairs

We can all agree there’s no shortage of long, endless flights of stairs on the UBC campus (Wreck Beach, anyone?) – so why not use them as a cardio activity? Lots of buildings – like residences – also have plenty of stairs, although you might want to avoid “rush hour” times when everyone starts/ends classes. Note: falling down stairs does not count as cardio.

5. Kickboxing

Kickboxing is an awesome way to get fit and develop your muscles while also fitting cardio into your workout. Find a kickboxing course around Vancouver, or take a look at the martial arts courses offered by UBC Recreation for an on-campus alternative.

6. Rowing

Although rowing is not necessarily the easiest activity to do on campus, partially due to the marked lack of canoes and kayaks, getting on the rowing machine in the gym is a super effective total body workout, and an even better cardio activity.


There’s a Zumba craze taking over Vancouver (and all over the world) – and for good reason. Zumba is an intense aerobic activity that burns loads of calories; don’t be scared off by the confusing name, Zumba is basically aerobics and dance combined!

8. Elliptical Trainer

If you’re tired of the treadmill but you still can’t stay away from the gym, try vary your routine by going on the elliptical. You get the same cardio workout without having to run!

9. Cross-Country Skiing

Take advantage of the winter weather while it lasts and go cross-country skiing for a two-in-one cardio activity and full-body workout. If you don’t have the right gear or can’t make that trip to Whistler/Seymour/Cypress/etc, ski machines in the gym also work.

10. Sports!

Last, but not least, is the most obvious alternative: sports! Whatever sport you play – whether its football, basketball or ultimate – is an effortless way to get your cardio in, since you’re already playing it! And if you’re not currently playing a sport, there are countless opportunities to get involved and join a team through UBC Recreation, residence, and lots of student clubs and societies!
If you’re not a fan of the treadmill, you now no longer have any excuse to ignore cardio – there are so many more alternatives to just running! Try and do any of these cardio activities for at least 10 minutes, or even longer if you can. Remember, cardio only counts if you exercise intensely enough so that your heart rate rises considerably, to approximately 60% of your maximum heart rate.
Exercise shouldn’t be a chore – pick an activity that you genuinely love, even if it’s not on this list. Even daily activities like vacuuming and dancing count as cardio, so don’t figuratively sweat it – pick your cardio activity, stick to it, and literally sweat it out!