7 Best Cardio Exercises

Cardio exercises are great not only for improving your hear health, but also for weight loss. If you are looking to lose weight with cardio, here are the 7 best cardio exercises.

HIIT (Machine-Based)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is all the rage in exercise circles because the science really supports its effectiveness for weight loss. Which is not to say that it necessarily is better, but that it’s more efficient. The secret to HIIT is that you can perform a relatively short workout (say 15 minutes or less), and ramp up your metabolism for the entire day. You can perform HIIT on any machine you like, just follow a simple routine: after a warmup, go as hard as you can at the highest resistance or speed you can manage, for about 30 seconds. Then go very slow for 30 seconds. Repeat for an appropriate period of time, maybe about 8 minutes to start. Go an extra set every day, working your way up to 15 minutes. Over time, you can also vary it up by going to a 30-60-90 HIIT, in which you change the working and resting intervals from 30 seconds to 60 seconds to 90 seconds over the course of your workout.

HIIT (Bodyweight)

Although working out on the machines is efficient for getting your cardio, if you’re using the same machine all the time, you’ll only be working some of your muscles. A great way to target other muscles in your body is to create a HIIT using bodyweight exercises. There are literally hundreds of bodyweight exercises you can try, and dozens of designs out there. The simplest variety is the 55 workout. Do one squat followed by 10 pushups. Rest for 30 seconds. Then do two squats followed by 9 pushups. Rest again. Keep going until you’ve worked your way to 10 squats and one pushup. You’ve have done 55 reps of each exercise, working your upper and lower body in turns. Repeat as desired, or mix in other exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, sit-and-stands, or whatever your heart desires.


This is actually one of the most studied forms of HIIT, and it’ll definitely get the results you desire. Find a short stretch—10 meters will do nicely–in the gym or your house where you can run undisturbed. Sprint the stretch, then rest taking just two breaths through your nose. Sprint again. Rest for three breaths. Repeat, increasing your rest by just one breath each time.

Low-impact Cardio

A lot of these exercises can be hard on your joints, so they might not be recommended for people with joint problems. But even if you’re concerned about your joints, you can still get a great cardio workout. You can build a great cardio workout using low-impact exercises like lunges, squats, and lifts, adding in kicks, punches, and weights to increase the workout. Unlike a HIIT workout, though, you won’t be pushing yourself to the absolute limit and you won’t take rests between exercises.

High-Intensity Aerobic

Like the low-impact cardio, this exercise doesn’t ask you to push yourself to your limit, but it does incorporate some of the basics of HIIT. You’ll be increasing your exercise intensity for short periods, targeting about 80% of your maximum exertion, then decreasing intensity. The intervals of exertion are longer, say about four minutes, but so are the active rests (about two minutes). This workout will take a little longer, but, like HIIT it can be performed on any machine.

Racquetball or Tennis

All the workouts above have one thing in common: they’re solitary. But if you’re looking to get a great workout with a friend (actually with them, as opposed to working out next to each other), try a game. Both racquetball and tennis are great cardio workouts that can burn the fat off. Both incorporate the principles of interval training—you’ll work really hard during each point, then rest between points. And you’ll be teaching your muscles to respond to sudden changes in direction. Not only that but you’ll have fun and build your hand-eye coordination.

Basketball or Soccer

Have more than one friend you want to hang out with? Why not try moving up to a team sport? Both basketball and soccer make heavy, continuous demands on your body. You’ll run, run, run, and jump, especially in basketball. In addition to a great workout, you’ll develop teamwork and have a great time.

The Best Cardio Exercise of All

There’s one exercise that beats any other: the one you actually do. No matter what kind of workout you’re looking for, find an exercise that is fun, change it up to keep yourself interested, and have someone to keep you accountable and you’ll do better than just keeping at the same thing or forcing yourself to do something you hate.

If you are looking for help with an effective weight loss program, please contact Med-Fit Medical Weight Loss Clinic in the Stapleton area of Denver.

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Dr. Angela Tran