Choosing cardio workouts for women is one of the most effective ways to improve your health, and achieve or maintain your goal weight.

That’s because a good cardio workout really gets your heart pumping, and helps you burn the extra calories needed to properly manage your weight.

Knowing the best cardio workouts for women, and in particular, the best cardio workouts for women over 40, will help you look and feel your best and get you the results you deserve.

JOIN OUR FIT MOTHER 30X PROGRAM

FM30X is the first sustainable weight loss program designed exclusively for *busy* mothers like you...

Learn More  >

What Are The Benefits Of Cardio Workouts For Women?

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise are endless, and include:

A Better Mood

You may notice you’re in a better mood after finishing up a cardiovascular workout, regardless of which type of exercise you participate in.

That’s because cardio exercise boosts endorphins within your body, which are your body’s “feel-good” chemicals.

This in turn helps combat depression, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your self-esteem.

Weight Control

Because you’re burning extra calories during cardiovascular sweat sessions, it’s easier to achieve or maintain a healthy weight when you include cardio workouts in your day-to-day routine.

In fact, a 155-pound woman burns about 372 calories in just 30 minutes rope jumping, running at a pace of 6 miles per hour (a 10-minute mile), or swimming the breaststroke.

Burning just 500 extra calories a day, assuming your diet stays the same, means you should lose about 1 pound per week.

If you’re already at your goal weight, cardio sweat sessions help you avoid packing on unwanted pounds.

Improved Sleep

Participating in regular cardiovascular workouts makes it easier for you to achieve high quality sleep each night.

Getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night lowers your risk for weight gain associated with altered appetite hormones, which can occur with sleep deprivation.

Make sure to avoid exercising right before bed to maximize sleep quality.

Increased Energy

Intense cardiovascular workouts may tire you out initially, but you’ll likely notice an increase in energy throughout the day overall.

The more you work out, the stronger you’ll be — making day-to-day tasks seem much easier.

Better Heart Health

It’s probably no surprise that exercise is beneficial for a healthy heart.

Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Exercise helps improve your body’s blood flow, even blood flow to your brain.

Healthier-Looking Skin

Because cardiovascular workout sessions increase blood flow, you’ll likely notice smoother, healthier-looking skin as a result.

Give it a try!

Be sure to wear sunscreen if you’re exercising outdoors to protect your skin from sun damage.

Improved Brain Health

Cleveland Clinic says cardiovascular exercise not only improves your mood and decreases depression, but it’s also protective against Alzheimer’s disease.

It also helps to combat mental decline associated with aging and improves memory and thinking skills.

Stronger Bones and Joints

Regular workouts, especially those that include cardiovascular exercise, help strengthen your bones and joints, decreasing your risk of osteoporosis (as long as you eat a well-balanced diet).

A well-planned cardio workout for women also lowers your risk for bone fractures, helps improve range of motion, and manages pain caused by arthritis.

Better Sexual Function

Getting regular cardiovascular exercise helps improve sexual function in both men and women.

In men, it lowers the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Cardio sweat sessions can even enhance sexual arousal in women.

Improved Blood Sugar Control

It may come as no surprise that regular cardiovascular exercise enhances blood sugar control, and lowers your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

One reason is that cardio workouts aid in healthy weight management, which is protective against diabetes — and can even reverse the development of diabetes if you’re overweight or obese.

JOIN OUR FIT MOTHER 30X PROGRAM

FM30X is the first sustainable weight loss program designed exclusively for *busy* mothers like you...

Learn More  >

How Often Should I Do Cardio?

A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 suggest healthy adults get in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly, or 300 minutes per week for additional health benefits.

This means you could shoot for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days weekly, or 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week (or 50 minutes six days weekly) to reap additional health benefits.

If weight loss is your goal, aim for about 300 minutes of aerobic exercise each week.

One study published in the journal Obesity found that women who exercised 45 to 60 minutes five days weekly lost weight, even without lowering their calorie intake by dieting.

To look and feel your best and maximize energy, it’s best to strength train regularly in addition to aerobic physical activity.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 suggest healthy adults complete strength training workouts, involving all major muscle groups, at least two times each week.

Which Cardio Exercises Should I Do?

The bottom line when choosing cardio workouts for women is to pick something you most enjoy.

Choose from continuous cardiovascular workouts, high-intensity interval training, and circuit training aerobic physical activity.

Change up your workout routine often for best results.

Continuous Cardiovascular Exercise

Examples of continuous cardiovascular workouts, or exercises you complete at a continuous (moderate) pace for about 30 to 60 minutes, include:

  • Speed walking
  • Walking uphill
  • Jogging
  • Step aerobics
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Rollerblading
  • Using an elliptical machine
  • Skiing
  • Kickboxing
  • Water aerobics

For best results, change up the cardio exercises you choose regularly.

Hike one day, swim or bike the other, and do something else the next day.

Alternating workouts helps prevent fatigue and overtraining.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training, also known as HIIT, is when you alternate between high-intensity cardiovascular exercise and lower-intensity aerobic exercise bouts.

For example, if you’re cycling, try cycling at a high intensity for about a minute, and bike at a slower pace during the next minute.

Continuously alternate between the two intensities for a specified time period, to help drop weight or boost cardiovascular endurance.

HIIT is an effective way to get rid of unwanted body fat, say researchers who conducted a 2017 review published in Obesity Science and Practice.

If you’re new to working out, aim for just 10 – 15 minutes at a time.

If you’re in pretty good shape, you might feel comfortable doing 20 – 30 minutes (or more) of HIIT during each aerobic workout session.

Plyometrics/Circuit Training Workouts

A plyometrics cardiovascular workout helps boost muscle definition, shed body fat quickly, and increase strength while you’re at it.

The following plyometrics exercises work well when used as part of a circuit training program:

  • Rope Jumps
  • Burpees
  • Shuttle runs
  • Jump squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Jogging in place
  • Tuck jumps
  • Box Jumps
  • Side to side shuffles
  • Skipping
  • High Knees
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Mountain climbers
  • Plank Jacks
  • Skaters

If you’re wondering how to incorporate the plyometrics aerobic exercises above into a circuit training program, simply alternate each exercise with bouts of resistance training.

For example, you might spend five minutes alternating between jumping jacks, squat jumps, and plank holds — then switch to a different circuit until you’ve completed at least 30 minutes of a cardio workout for women, or a cardio workout for women over 40.

How Many Calories Can I Burn?

Studies show burning 400 to 600 calories during each workout session is effective for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, but the number of calories you should burn per workout really depends on your fitness level.

There’s no right or wrong answer.

According to Harvard Health Publishing if you weigh 155 pounds, you’ll burn the following number of calories in just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise:

Exercise Calories Burned
Water aerobics 149 calories
Walking at a pace of 4 miles per hour 167 calories
Waking at a pace of 4.5 miles per hour 186 calories
Stair-step machine 223 calories
Water skiing 223 calories
Step aerobics 260 calories
Rowing machine at a moderate intensity 260 calories
Rollerblade skating 260 calories
Circuit training 298 calories
Playing basketball 298 calories
Cross-country skiing 298 calories
Running at a pace of 5 miles per hour 298 calories
Running at a pace of 5.2 miles per hour 335 calories
Elliptical trainer 335 calories
Ski machine 353 calories
Running at a pace of 6 miles per hour 372 calories
Rope jumping 372 calories
Swimming the breaststroke 372 calories
Treading water 372 calories
Stationary biking at a vigorous pace 391 calories
Running at a pace of 6.7 miles per hour 409 calories
Swimming the butterfly 409 calories
Swimming the crawl stroke 409 calories
Running at a pace of 7.5 miles per hour 465 calories

The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn performing the same task as a 155-pound woman.

If you weigh less than 155 pounds, you’ll burn fewer calories than what’s listed in the chart above.

GET YOUR FREE "FIT MOM" JUMPSTART

Let us show you how you can start losing weight this week! We'll email you our free meal plan & workout + email coaching.

Learn More  >

Sample Cardio Workout for Women

An ideal cardiovascular workout plan for women varies based on how fit you are and your workout preferences.

A cardio workout for women over 40 can be the same as an aerobic exercise program for younger women, depending on fitness level, and might include:

Day 1

  • Continuous cardiovascular exercise (walking uphill, jogging, biking, or using an elliptical machine) for 30 to 45 minutes
  • 5 minutes of plank abdominal exercises
  • 5 – 10 minutes of arm and shoulder exercises using dumbbells weights

Day 2

  • 20 – 30 minutes of high intensity interval training
  • 5 – 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 5 – 20 minutes of lower body resistance training (squats with weights, lunges, etc.)

Day 3

  • Rest day, or 30 to 60 minutes of light aerobic training (such as walking)

Day 4

A circuit training workout that includes:

  • 5 minutes of medicine ball squats, jumping jacks, and dead lifts
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of planks, shuttle runs, and rope jumps
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of jump squats, pull-ups, and high knee jumps
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of box jumps, push-ups, and sit-ups
  • 1 minute rest period
  • 5 minutes of side to side shuffles or jumping lunges, kettle-bell swings, and leg raises
  • 1 minute of rest
  • 5 minutes of burpees, push-ups, and shoulder press
  • 5 minutes of stretching

Day 5

  • Continuous cardiovascular exercise for 30 – 60 minutes
  • 5 – 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 5 – 10 minutes of chest exercises (push-ups, chest press, bench press, flys, etc.)

Day 6

  • 20 – 30 minutes of high-intensity interval training
  • 5 – 10 minutes of abdominal exercises
  • 15 – 20 minutes of back exercises (deadlifts, reverse flys, back extensions, etc.)

Day 7

  • 30 – 60 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (such as walking) or a rest day

If you’re over 40, you might choose lower intensity versions of the workout above, but you certainly don’t have to if you’re in great shape as many women over 40 are!

If you’re new to working out, begin by exercising aerobically just 10 minutes a day, or complete two to three 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Your second workout might be 15 minute long, and so on.

Beginning New Cardio Workouts for Women

You don’t have to overdo it to get results from a cardio workout for women, or a cardio workout for women over 40.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, simply go for a walk outside for 30 to 60 minutes and count it as your workout for the day.

In addition to cardiovascular exercise, making dietary changes helps you reach weight and body fat goals.

Sign up for Fit Mother Project’s free Fit Mom's Jumpstart to get you headed in the right direction.

This will show you how to follow a healthy eating plan AND show you how to workout effectively.

If weight loss is your goal, aim to eat 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day — up to 1,800 calories daily if you work out often, suggests the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

If you struggle getting motivated for your next cardio workout session:

  • Join an aerobics or boot camp class
  • Recruit a friend to work out with you
  • Find a personal trainer
  • Use Fit Mother Project’s free 1-day workout plan
  • Find a good movie you can watch during at-home sweat sessions
  • Take your workout outdoors
  • Try a free online workout class

Make your next cardio workout something you most enjoy. You can do it!

Your new friend & coach,

Erin Coleman, B.S. - Nutritional Science, Registered Dietician, Licenced Dietician

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.


If you’re a busy mom who wants to finally lose weight, get healthy, and actually keep the pounds off for good, this is the simple program you’ll love sticking to…

Our Fit Mother 30X Program (FM30X) is the answer you’ve been looking for. Inside FM30X, you’ll receive:

  • The simple & delicious Fit Mother Meal Plan with easy recipes for you and your family.
  • The metabolism-boosting Fit Mother 30X Workout (under 90 min/week) to kickstart your metabolism for fast fat burning.
  • VIP email coaching where we’ll personally walk you through the program.
Learn More About FM30X  > Read the FM30X Program Overview letter here

*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 for women.

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter