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12 Best Cardio Exercises

Cardio exercises are full-body workouts that get your heart rate up and burn calories. Stepping up your cardio game is a great way to lose weight and improve your overall health.

When we think of cardio, a lot of us immediately think of going for a run or getting on the elliptical. The truth is, there’s a lot of quick and efficient ways to get that aerobic activity in right from home with no equipment required! I put together some of my favorite cardio moves that you can do between meetings, while watching TV, or strung together for circuit if you have 10 minutes to spare.

Press play on your favorite pump-me-up playlist, and let’s get moving!

Forward & backward jumps

This move is simple, but effective. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knees and extend your arms behind you. Jump forward a few feet, swinging your arms up toward the sky for momentum. Land softly with knees bent. Using the same movements, jump backward a few feet.

Boxing squat

Sit down and back into a squat position, squeezing your glutes and abs. As you return to a standing position, extend your right arm straight out in front of you in a punching motion. Bring your right arm back in and squat back down. This time as you return to standing, extend your left arm straight out in front of you in a punching motion. For a challenge, you can elevate this move by holding light dumbbells.

Rocket jumps

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squeezing your glutes, squat down half way, and then jump up as high as you can reaching your arms toward the sky. Land softly, and then use the momentum from your last jump to repeat. Make sure you keep your abs engaged throughout the entire exercise.

Side lunges

Start with your feet as wide as your hips. Then step your right foot to the right, and bend the right knee, sitting down into a side lunge. Reach the right glute back and keep the left leg straight. Press down through the right heel and come back to center. Then step your left foot out and lunge to the left. Keep your movements controlled, and repeat side to side as quickly as you can.

Running in place

Make sure you put on your tennis shoes for this one! Lightly run in place with the knees bent and arms moving as fast as you can. If you want to step it up and burn even more calories, you can run in place at a sprinting speed. For a lower-impact variation, you can march in place.

Jumping jacks

Start by standing upright with your legs together, and your arms by your sides. With knees slightly bent, push off the floor and jump into the air. As you’re jumping, spread your legs shoulder-width apart, and swing your arms out to the sides and up over your head. Jump back to the starting position, and repeat!

Butt kicks

Instead of reaching the knees toward your chest like you do with high knees, you’ll be kicking your feet behind you, reaching your heels toward your butt. This will help with hip flexor mobility and can also loosen up the quads. Simply kick your right foot back toward your right glute, and then kick your left foot back toward your left glute. The faster you go, the more you may feel like you’re running in place — so make sure you focus the movement on kicking your feet toward the glute with every step.

Jump squats

The Jump squat is a power move that target your core and entire lower body. With your feet hip-distance apart, lower into a squat position. Make sure you keep a strong, straight back and your knees behind your toes. With control, jump straight up and swing your arms overhead. Softly return back to your starting squat position and repeat.

Begin in plank position, with your back straight, hips low and core engaged. Keep your shoulders over your wrists. Bring your right knee under your chest toward your right elbow. Return your right leg back to plank position; bring your left leg under your chest toward your left elbow. Repeat while alternating your legs, keeping a steady pace. Remember to breathe and concentrate on engaging your abs, glutes and hamstrings.

Lateral shuffles

Starting with your feet hip-distance apart, sink into a deep knee bend. Bring both of your arms in front of your chest, holding them up to help you keep your balance. Starting with your right foot and following with your left, shuffle right for 3 or 4 steps (depending on your space), and then repeat to the left. Keep your chest up, core strong, and glutes engaged throughout this movement.

High knees

March your right knee up toward your chest, place it down, and then march the left knee toward your chest. As you start moving faster, try and keep your knees up as high as you can. You can pick up the pace and increase the impact of this workout by adding jumps. Always land with softly bent knees, and swing your arms to keep your heart rate up.

Dance it out!

If you’re looking to spice up your cardio routine while having some fun, dance! Put on your favorite song and focus on keeping your body moving to the beat, incorporating your arms and legs for a full-body cardio workout. Dancing has been shown to help improve your mood and is an awesome standalone workout or a fun way to finish out your favorite circuit!