Don't have time to attend a spin class or cardio boot camp? Why not do your cardio workouts at home?
We get it; juggling family responsibilities, work, and various other commitments can often leave little room for self-care.
However, incorporating cardio workouts into your daily routine can have a transformative impact on both your physical and mental well-being. Luckily, there are a number of cardio exercise programs and workouts that can be done with minimal space, right in the comfort of your own living room!
In this article, you'll learn:
- Why cardio is so essential
- Various types of cardio exercises beyond just slogging it out on the treadmill.
- Practical tips on how to do cardio workouts at home with minimal or no equipment.
- And so much more!
Ready to get started with your own cardio workouts at home? Keep reading!
Learn about the best types of cardio for fat loss and the science behind cardio for WOMEN!
The Importance of Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise is a crucial component of a well-rounded fitness routine. Engaging in regular cardio workouts offers numerous benefits, including:
- Enhanced Heart Health: Cardio exercises strengthen your heart, improving its ability to pump blood efficiently. This reduces the risk of heart disease and lowers blood pressure.
- Weight Management: Cardio workouts help burn calories and excess fat, supporting weight loss and weight maintenance goals.
- Increased Energy Levels: Regular cardio sessions boost energy levels and combat fatigue, enabling mothers to meet the demands of their daily lives with greater vitality.
- Stress Relief: Cardiovascular exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, known as the “feel-good” hormones. This natural mood booster helps reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
- Improved Sleep: Engaging in cardio workouts can promote better sleep quality, aiding in the rest and recovery necessary for busy moms.
There are various types of cardio exercises you can incorporate into your home workout routine, including:
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves alternating short bursts of intense exercise with brief recovery periods. It offers maximum results in minimal time and can be done with exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees, or mountain climbers.
- Dance Workouts: Dancing is a fun and effective way to get your heart rate up. You can follow along with online dance workouts or create your own playlist of upbeat music and groove to your favorite tunes.
- Jumping Rope: This classic childhood activity is an excellent cardio exercise that requires minimal space and equipment. Jumping rope for just a few minutes can provide a challenging and effective workout.
- Stair Climbing: If you have stairs in your home, utilize them for a quick cardio session. Ascend and descend the stairs multiple times, focusing on maintaining a steady pace and engaging your leg muscles.
- Walking or Jogging: Take advantage of your neighborhood or nearby parks for brisk walks or jogs. This low-impact exercise is perfect for beginners and can be easily modified based on your fitness level.
How To Do Various Cardio Workouts At Home
HIIT is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health. The origins of this training came from Dr. Izumi Tabata, out of the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo. His research compared athletes that carried out moderate-intensity workouts to those that did high-intensity interval workouts.
While the moderate-intensity group had increased their aerobic fitness, they showed little or no results for their anaerobic fitness. However, the HIIT group showed an even greater increase in their aerobic system than the moderate-intensity group. Plus, they had increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.
Adding HIIT sessions once or twice a week is a great way to stay in shape and keep your heart healthy. Plus, it is easy to do at home with no equipment necessary!
HIIT Warm Up
Warm up with some dynamic exercises and stretches. This will help get your heart rate up and to avoid injuries.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold your arms out to the side at shoulder height.
- Circle around your arms forward, starting with small circles, and working up to larger circles.
- Perform 20 circles.
- Reverse direction and perform 20 more.
Front Arm Swings:
- Start with your arms extended out to your sides.
- Swing both arms in front of your chest, crossing your left arm over your right, then reverse back to the starting position.
- Then swing both arms back in front of your chest, this time crossing your right arm over your left, then bring it back again.
- Continue alternating like this for about 20-30 seconds.
- Stand while holding onto a chair or wall for support.
- Shift your weight to your left foot, and swing the right leg forward and backward, allowing the right knee to naturally flex and extend throughout the movement.
- Continue for 10-15 swings on the right, then switch sides and repeat.
Knees to Chest:
- Bring your right knee toward your chest before lowering your foot toward the ground.
- Then bring your left knee in and hug it towards your chest before lowering back down.
- Continue alternating sides for 10 reps on each side.
HIIT Main Set
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Then move immediately to the next exercise.
- You can perform these with or without a push-up.
- As your fitness increases, try adding in the push-up.
- Watch this video to learn how to do burpees right.
Alternating Lunge Jumps:
- For this exercise, you start in a lunge position.
- Lower your back knee toward the ground in a lunge while keeping your front shin as vertical as possible. Do not let your knee track over your toe.
- Push explosively off the ground, jumping and switching the position of your legs while in mid-air.
- Land in the lunge position with the opposite leg forward.
- Repeat, switching legs on each jump.
- Watch this video to learn how to do lunges right.
- Start in a push-up position.
- Engage your abs as you bring your right knee to your chest and then straighten it back to the starting position.
- Then bring your left leg to your chest and back again.
- Repeat this as quickly as possible for 20 seconds.
- Watch this video to learn how to do mountain climbers right.
- Start in a standard push-up position.
- As you lower your body toward the floor, bring your right leg out to the side and try to touch your knee to your elbow.
- Return to the starting position, and repeat with your left leg.
- Watch this video to learn how to do Spiderman push-ups right.
Rest for 1 minute, then repeat this circuit two more times. While this may seem like a short workout, if you perform this at your highest effort, it will feel a lot longer than 15 minutes!
HIIT Cool Down:
Finish with some static stretches. For example:
- Push your arms up behind you while pulling your shoulder blades together and your back straight until you feel the stretch in your chest.
- Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.
- Lift your arms overhead with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow.
- Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat.
Low Back Stretch:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and pulled up toward your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds before releasing.
- Sit on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor.
- Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh.
- Pull both legs inwards toward your stomach for a deep stretch of your glutes.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch sides and repeat.
If you live in a home or apartment that has stairs, these can be utilized to get in some much-needed cardio. A study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that three bouts a day of vigorous stair workouts done three times a week was highly effective at improving cardiovascular health.
Stair Warm Up
Warm up with dynamic exercises like those in the HIIT warm-up.
Stair Main Set
- Sprint up one flight of stairs.
- Do 10 jumping jacks at the top, then jog back down.
- Sprint up one flight of stairs.
- Perform 5 body weight squats at the top, then jog back down.
- Sprint up one flight of stairs.
- Do 5 burpees (with or without a push-up), then jog back down.
Repeat this 3 times. If you feel like you can do more, you can always add a few more sets. You can even do this a few different times throughout the day to add in additional cardio if you have extra time.
Stair Cool Down
Cool down with static stretches. Make sure to include stretches that focus on the quads, hamstrings, and calves as you really work these when doing stair repeats.
Hamstring and Calf Stretch:
- Stand about one foot from a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height.
- Take a step back with one leg while pushing into the wall.
- Keep your back straight and press your heels into the floor. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Step forward and repeat with the other leg. Repeat the exercise three times on each side.
- Stand with your left arm holding a chair for balance and support.
- Next, bend your right knee and hold your right foot in your right hand.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the left leg and hold for 20-30 seconds.
If you have kids, it’s a great idea to keep them involved in fitness as well. A study from BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine found that a parent’s motivation to exercise due to personal valuing of exercise was associated with their children engaging in more physical activity. In contrast, motivation based on pressure and coercion was negatively associated with their child’s engagement in physical activity.
If you live in an area where you have access to sidewalks or trails, get out and take a walk or hike. Also, outdoor games are great for you and the kids and can be done right in your backyard. Have fun with it! Set up some sprint relay races and have a fun family competition. Or play some basketball in the driveway or flag football in the backyard. These are all activities that will get your heart pumping and improve your cardiovascular fitness.
Cardio workouts don’t always need to be structured activities, and you don’t have to do cardio for hours to have a fitness benefit.
Brief, intense exercise can improve cardiovascular health to the same extent as sustained endurance exercise. Even with a lower total exercise volume.
So even a short workout is far better than no workout at all!
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on cardio workouts at home.