The 12 Best Cardiovascular Exercises, Plus Cardio Workouts From a CPT

You’re all set with your strength training program — you know how to build muscle, lift weights, and get stronger. But have you saved time in your exercise program for a cardio workout? 

Here, I’ll explain the types of cardiovascular exercise and the best exercises to choose from, how to put them into workouts, and remind you of the health benefits of getting your heart rate up. Because treadmills and burpees do fit into your training. Yes, even if you’re a lifter.

What Is Cardiovascular Exercise?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), cardiovascular exercise, or aerobic exercise, is any physical activity that engages large muscle groups that you can perform rhythmically and continuously. It should raise your heart rate and breathing rate. (1)

Aerobic exercise uses oxygen that you inhale as the main energy source. Anaerobic exercise, like weightlifting, uses stored energy (ATP) in your muscles. How well your cardiorespiratory system can deliver oxygen to your muscles and how well your muscles can utilize it is known as your aerobic capacity. This may also be measured by your VO2 max. (1)

The term “cardiovascular” is made up of cardio (heart) and vascular (blood vessels). Cardio exercise trains your heart to increase blood flow through your blood vessels. Doing it regularly strengthens your cardiovascular system, which improves cardiovascular health. 

[Read More: The Benefits of Cardio — Better Sleep, Mental Health, Bone Health & More]

Types of Cardiovascular Exercise

Sure, anaerobic exercises like barbell training also involve your heart and blood vessels and can get you breathing pretty heavily. Right now, I’m focusing on what athletes typically think of as cardio exercise — think body weight only, rapid breathing, and your heart pumping out a higher heart rate for either short bursts or a longer training session.

Cardio exercise can be split into two major camps, with a third one that’s a bit of a mix.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT workouts are short and quick — they’re a brief burst of all-out effort, followed by short recovery or rest periods, repeated a few times. You alternate spiking your heart rate and letting it recover quickly. Depending on how hard you can work, some HIIT workouts tap into your anaerobic system, so you get a little of each. Still, doing HIIT can boost your aerobic capacity and heart health.

Steady-State Endurance Exercise: The second type of cardio exercise is steady-state exercise, which lasts longer and can improve endurance. It raises your heart rate to a level you can sustain for 30 to 60 minutes (which will be much lower than your all-out bursts in HIIT). These can be low-intensity, like a long walk, or moderate-intensity, like a longer cycling workout. Sustaining your heart rate and effort for that more extended period improves aerobic capacity and endurance.

Hybrid Types: There are other ways to structure a cardio workout that aren’t purely HIIT or steady state. Some may have elements of both. You could do bodyweight exercises in circuit training or other formats like a pyramid, EMOM every minute on the minute), or AMRAP (as many reps or rounds as possible). CrossFit workouts also combine cardio with strength training. 

Best Cardiovascular Exercises

Both HIIT and steady-state cardio workouts can benefit your heart health and fitness goals. You can incorporate multiple cardio exercises into either type; you just have to manipulate how long and intensely you do them. 

I’ll divide the best cardio exercises into bodyweight and cardio machine exercises and explain how to scale them for different fitness levels.

Bodyweight Cardio Exercises

Jumping Rope

Squat Jump


High Knee

Mountain Climber


Cardio Machine Exercises

Brisk Walking





Stair Climber

Bodyweight Cardio Exercises

Here are the six best bodyweight cardio exercises you can do anywhere.

1. Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great cardio exercise commonly found in a HIIT workout. You’re continuously moving your entire body. Even if you can only start with 15 seconds, it will quickly raise your heart rate and breathing while building skill and coordination.

How to Do it: 

Hold one end of your jump rope in each hand. Stand upright in front of it with your feet about hip-width apart. 

Swing the jump rope over your body and jump over it when it reaches the floor. You can jump with both feet or skip with one at a time. Jump and land lightly. 

Continue swinging the jump rope from your wrists, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Continue jumping or skipping. Work your way up to being able to jump for a full minute.


Make it Easier:

Decrease the time — do 10 or 15 seconds for several sets.

Try jumping jacks for a similar movement requiring less coordination (and equipment).

Low-Impact Option: March in place while doing vertical arm swings. 

Make it Harder:

Double Jumps: Jump twice before the rope comes back down.

Double-Unders: Swing the rope around twice before you jump again.

Try a weighted jump rope for more of an upper-body challenge.

Coach’s Tip: Though jumping rope is often part of a warm-up, be sure to warm up your shoulders first.

2. Squat Jump

Squat jumps are explosive plyometric movements that raise your heart rate and can improve athletic performance. They’re great for cardio because you don’t have to do too many; just focus on quality form. However, they can be high-impact, so I’ll offer some alternatives.

How to Do it: 

Stand upright with your feet wider than hip-width apart.

Inhale to sit down into your squat, slightly above parallel. Lower your arms by your sides.

Exhale to explode up into a jump. Swing your arms up as you jump. 

Land lightly on your feet with your hips and knees slightly bent. Continue for your desired number of reps.


Make it Easier:

Low-Impact Options

Perform bodyweight squats. These work for cardio for beginners, as you’ll need to focus on proper form and engagement. For advanced athletes who want a low-impact option, you can kick up the reps for your air squats or add a light kettlebell or dumbbell for goblet squats.

Perform bodyweight squat, but add a pulse.

Perform box squats.

TRX-Assisted Squat Jumps: Hold onto a TRX trainer to help you balance and take some of the load off.

Make it Harder:

Depth Squat Jumps: Jump off a plyometric box so you have higher to jump before landing.

Perform box jumps to jump higher.

Coach’s Tip: Try to land as lightly as possible — even if you start with smaller squat jumps.

3. Skater

The skater is a lateral unilateral exercise that will raise your heart rate as you leap (or step) from side to side. It builds agility, coordination, and balance while training your functional movements in the frontal plane. 

How to Do it: 

Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart or wider.

Lift your right leg up. Leap laterally out to the side and land on your right foot. Swing your left leg behind your right as you land lightly, bending your right knee.

Push off your right foot to leap laterally to the left. Land lightly on your left foot with your knee bent, swinging your right leg behind you.

Continue for your desired number of reps. Swing your arms along with you. Keep your core engaged and chest up.


Make it Easier:

Low-Impact Option: Step to the side instead of leaping or jumping. 

You can perform slower skaters with the leap.

Make it Harder:

Challenge yourself to leap farther, but still give it a solid landing.

Go faster, maintaining your form. 

Coach’s Tip: Make sure your knee lands in line with your ankle; don’t let it cave in. As with all jumping movements, focus on a light landing.

4. High Knee

[Read More: The Best Leg Exercises and Workouts for Stronger Legs]

High knees are a great bodyweight cardio exercise easily scalable for different impact and fitness levels. You can do them quickly so you’re jogging in place, or keep it slow as a march. They also work your core muscles to stabilize your spine as you continuously raise your knees, engaging your hip flexors on each rep.

How to Do it: 

Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Reach your arms out in front of you, palms facing down.

Raise your right knee toward your chest, keeping your left foot firmly on the ground. Lower the right foot and raise your left knee toward your chest. Try to tap each knee to your palm.

Continue alternating sides. You can pick up the pace to jog and hop or keep it slow as a march.


Make it Easier:

March in place, stepping each foot down.

Raise your knee to hip level, not up toward your chest or hand.

Perform a seated march from a chair.

Make it Harder:

Jog in place, getting your knees up as high as possible on each rep.

Swing your arms along. If you raise your right knee, swing the left arm up and alternate.

Coach’s Tip: Keep your core engaged, chest up, and stand tall. 

5. Mountain Climber

Mountain climbers combine cardio with a great core workout. Holding a plank while stepping or jogging your knees toward your chest at any speed will raise your heart rate because of all the muscle groups you need to engage. Jogging them in quicker will yield more cardiovascular benefits and are relatively low-impact.

How to Do it: 

Begin in a high plank position at the top of a push-up. Keep your shoulders over your wrists and brace your core.

Bring your right knee toward your chest, keeping your left foot in your plank. Step your right foot back.

Bring your left knee toward your chest, keeping your right foot down. Step your left foot back.

Continue alternating, stepping, or jogging. Keep your hips and spine still and resist any movement through your torso.


Make it Easier:

Hold a plank as part of a bodyweight HIIT circuit. The plank isn’t a cardio exercise, but you can hold a short one after doing others.

Take each climber slowly, stepping back to your plank with control. 

Elevate your hands on an inclined surface, like a box or weight bench, to allow more space between your body and the floor. 

Perform shoulder taps with your knees down.

Make it Harder:

Do faster mountain climbers so you’re “jogging” in your plank.

Try cross-body mountain climbers, tapping one knee to the opposite triceps.

Add a push-up after one jog on each side.

Coach’s Tip: The goal is to resist moving your hips and spine. If you can’t hold still while jogging in your mountain climbers, slow them down until you can.

6. Burpee

Love or hate them, burpees are a classic bodyweight cardio exercise for a reason. They combine compound exercises — squat jumps and push-ups — taking you from the floor to the air and back down again. They’re also scalable for different fitness levels and lower impacts. Quickly getting up and down while engaging all your muscle groups makes them perfect for cardio; your heart rate will rise and stay up.

How to Do it: 

Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and put your hands on the floor. 

Step or jump your feet back into a plank position, the top of your push-up.

Perform a push-up. Jump or step your feet up to your hands, landing in a squat.

Jump up explosively from your squat, reaching your arms overhead. Land in your squat and repeat.


Make it Easier:

Perform a plank walkout or inchworm exercise.

No Jumps: Step your feet to and from your plank. Perform a regular squat instead of a squat jump. Finish with standing tall and reaching your arms up.

Perform as prescribed, but take out the push-up.

Take out the jumps and the push-ups.

Make it Harder:

Add a box jump or jumpover.

Add a knee tuck to your jump.

Do two push-ups per rep/

Do as many as possible in the set time, and try to beat your record.

Coach’s Tip: Make each part of your burpee sharp with good form, and keep your core engaged.

Cardio Machine Exercises

Cardio machines are efficient; they take a lot of the guesswork out of your cardio workout. All of these can be done on gym equipment, and some can be done outside of the gym. Each option can work as a HIIT or interval workout or as a longer, steady-state workout. 

1. Brisk Walking

[Read More: How Many Steps in a Mile? Calculate by Height and Pace]

Brisk walking is one of the most accessible options for cardio exercise (if you can walk). You can do it on a treadmill or outdoors. It’s relatively low-impact but weight-bearing. You’ll need to walk quickly enough to get your heart rate up but stay at a pace you can sustain for 30 to 60 minutes. Using an incline on a treadmill can help.

How to Do it: 

Begin your walk. Take long strides, pushing off the balls of your feet. 

Engage your glutes and leg muscles. Engage your core to stand tall.

Swing your arms to help power you forward.


Make it Easier:

If you’re new to exercise, start walking at any pace you can sustain for at least 30 minutes.

Make it Harder:

Try a treadmill incline workout to increase the difficulty and intensity of your walk without having to ramp up the speed too much. You can also walk up a hill outdoors or on a hike. Walking on an incline requires more muscle engagement, which will raise your heart rate a little more — ideal for cardiovascular gains.

Coach’s Tip: If you’re on a treadmill, a brisk walk often clocks in at three miles per hour (3.0) or more. Use the talk test if you’re outside and don’t have a heart rate monitor or wearable fitness tracker. You should be able to talk but not sing for a moderate-intensity brisk walk. (2

2. Running

Running is a highly effective cardio workout. Runners tend to have high cardiovascular fitness because it is so demanding on your body, heart, and lungs. It is a high-impact sport, so beginners will need to scale up slowly. 

How to Do it: 

Get a good pair of running shoes and learn proper running form. Perform a dynamic warm-up for running.

Head out on your run and focus on maintaining your good form, whether it’s an interval workout or a longer run.

Perform cool-down post-run stretches afterward.


Make it Easier:

Do brisk walking if you’re not into running.

Take a slow jog.

Alternate 30 seconds of jogging with 30 seconds of walking.

Make it Harder:

Try a sprint workout.

Try a tempo run to increase your speed. 

Try training for a race or event. A 5K is a great place to start to challenge yourself to run 3.1 miles at a time.

Coach’s Tip: To support your running performance, be sure to eat enough, sleep well, and keep up with strength training.

3. Elliptical

The elliptical is a low-impact cardio machine that engages your entire body. Your feet never leave the pedals, so it makes an excellent option if you’re recovering from an injury and unable to walk or run. You can also actively push and pull the handlebars to engage your upper body. Working multiple muscle groups increases your heart rate for a great cardio workout.

How to Do it: 

Step onto the pedals. Hold one handlebar in each hand or the stationary handles if you want to skip the upper body work.

Select your resistance and speed.

Push your feet down and squeeze your glutes as you pedal. Engage your quads as you step forward and your hamstrings as you pull back. 

Push with your triceps and pull with your biceps and upper back if you’re using the arms.


Make it Easier:

Use just your feet.

Try an interval workout (it doesn’t have to be full HIIT) that alternates periods of higher effort with less effort.

For a steady state, start with a 20-minute session.

Make it Harder:

Use your arms and legs at a higher resistance for more muscle engagement.

Pedal backward for more work for your glutes and hamstrings.

For steady-state, try a 45-minute elliptical workout.

Coach’s Tip: With the elliptical, you get what you put in. You can take a leisurely ride or dial in, increase the resistance, and actively engage your muscles.

4. Cycling

[Read More: The Best Air Bikes for Your Home Gym]

Cycling is a great cardio workout for people of all fitness levels. Since you don’t need to support your body weight, beginners may be able to reach a higher intensity and stay on for longer or perform challenging HIIT workouts. Advanced athletes also benefit from a low-impact cardio workout at a scalable intensity.

How to Do it: 

Hop on your bike of choice. Secure your feet. If the bike allows it, sit up tall.

Begin pedaling and push through your feet. Feel your quads as you push down and your hamstrings as you pull up.

Engage your core to protect your spine and back. Continue riding for your desired length of time.


Make it Easier:

Start with an interval workout, alternating low intensities, or a 15 to 20-minute steady-state workout.

A recumbent bike may be easier to get into. An upright bike may be easier to ride as it is set up more like a regular outdoor bike.

Keep the resistance low, but gradually increase your speed.

Make it Harder:

Try a cycling workout on a spin bike.

Stand up while pedaling, or alternate standing and sitting.

Add dumbbell work with your arms.

Coach’s Tip: Be sure to warm up and cool down after a cycling workout; it’s a lot of work for your quads.

5. Rowing

A BarBend tester on the ProForm 750R rowing machine.

Rowing is a full-body, low-impact cardio workout. Your heart rate will immediately spike as you push with your legs and pull with your arms and back, so it’s a lot of bang for your buck. It’s also beginner-friendly but can be a fun challenge for strength athletes to incorporate at higher intensities.

How to Do it: 

Choose your resistance. Sit down on the seat. Place your feet in the foot pedals and secure them with straps. Grab the handle with an overhand grip and keep your wrists straight. 

To perform the catch, lean your upper body forward and keep your arms straight. Reach forward until your shoulders pass your hips, keeping your knees bent.

Push into your feet to straighten your legs, keeping your arms straight and core engaged. Lean back.

Pull the handle toward the bottom of your ribcage as your legs straighten. Initiate the pull from your back and retract your scapula. Perform the catch again to repeat and continue.


Make it Easier:

Keep the resistance low.

Start with a five-minute rowing workout for beginners, taking it slow and focusing on your form.

Incorporate the rowing machine into a circuit with other bodyweight exercises until you can spend more time rowing.

Make it Harder:

Increase the resistance.

Choose a moderate resistance, but go as fast as possible.

Find your split time (how long it takes to row 500 meters) and work on beating it.

Coach’s Tip: Keep your core engaged and your back as straight as possible.

6. Stair Climber

The stair climber offers an intense cardio workout that taxes your lower body, especially your glutes. Climbing stairs is challenging; you’ll get your heart rate up, and it will stay up for the duration of the workout. It has a learning curve for beginners and might be a better workout for intermediate or advanced fitness levels.

How to Do it: 

Hold the handrails to step onto the machine. Set your level.

Begin climbing. Step through your whole foot, pushing off the ball to take your next step. Squeeze your glutes.

Keep your core engaged as you climb. 

Avoid leaning on the handrails or lightly touch them to aid in balance.


Make it Easier:

Try a five to 10-minute stair climbing workout at a low level.

Climb stairs in your house or a building to get used to the fundamental movement pattern.

Make it Harder:

Complete a full workout without holding on.

Try higher levels and speeds.

Coach’s Tip: Engage your core to stay as tall as possible while climbing.

Sample Cardio Workouts

Now that you know the best cardio exercises, I’ll combine them into three cardio workouts with something for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner wanting a cardio workout at home with no equipment or an advanced athlete searching for a HIIT challenge, here we go.

Beginner Cardio Workout

As a beginner, you want to build your aerobic capacity with endurance exercise. It doesn’t mean you will run a marathon, but training your cardiovascular system and muscles to keep moving at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes will be a great place to start.

[Read More: The Best Bodyweight Workouts for Muscle, Beginners, Mobility, and More]

You’ll be taking a brisk incline walk on the treadmill. Incline walking is gentler on your joints than brisk walking on a flat surface, and you don’t have to go too fast to keep your heart rate up.

The Workout:

Warm-Up: Walk for 5 minutes at 2.5 speed, one percent incline

30-Minute Walk: Walk for 30 minutes at 3.0 speed, at a three to five percent incline.

Cool Down: Walk for three to five minutes at a one percent incline, gradually reducing the speed.

How Often to Do This Workout: Try this two to three times per week.

Equipment Needed: You’ll need a treadmill for this.


Make it Easier:

If you’re not up for incline walking, use the elliptical for 30 minutes.

Complete the workout at a three percent incline.

Slowly scale up to a five percent incline. Walk for five minutes at two percent, five minutes at three percent, five at four percent, and the final ten minutes at five percent.

Walk for 10, 15, or 20 minutes instead of 30.

Hold the handrails for support, but try to spend most of the time without them.

Make it Harder:

Walk at a five percent incline.

Gradually increase your pace to 3.5.

Don’t touch the handrails.

Coach’s Tip: Be sure to get a supportive pair of walking shoes. 

Bodyweight-Only Cardio Workout

This is a full-body, circuit-style workout that you can do with no equipment — or maybe a jump rope. The idea is to move from one exercise to the next without resting, and then you’ll take up to a one-minute rest before repeating the circuit for a few rounds.

You don’t need to perform the exercises as fast as possible (unless you want to); performing one after the other will keep your heart rate up. They’re somewhere between moderate and high intensity, and I’ll provide modifications for fitness levels afterward.

The Workout:

Start with a dynamic warm-up and finish with a cool-down. 

Jump Rope: 3 x 30 seconds

Next, perform the following exercises in succession as a circuit, three to four rounds with a 45- to 60-second rest in between.

Squat Jump: 10 to 15

Mountain Climber: 30 seconds

Skater: 10 per side

Perform as a superset for two to three rounds, with 45 to 60-second rest.

High Knee: 30 seconds + Burpee: 10

How Often to Do This Workout: You can do this once or twice weekly.

Equipment Needed: You’ll need a jump rope, but you can substitute jumping jacks if you don’t have one.


Make it Easier

Exercise Alternatives:

Do jumping jacks instead of jumping rope.

Do bodyweight squats instead of squat jumps.

Hold a plank instead of mountain climbers.

Step rather than leap in your skaters.

March in place instead of high knees.

Do plank walkouts instead of burpees.

Take a longer rest between rounds.

Perform fewer rounds — at least two of each.

Make it Harder:

Exercise Progressions:

Do box jumps or depth squat jumps instead of regular squat jumps.

Add a push-up to your mountain climbers.

Do lateral box jumps instead of skaters.

Jog in place instead of high knees.

Do 20 reps instead of 10 reps.

Play with time — do 30 seconds of squat jumps and skaters, but do as many reps as possible.

Take a shorter rest between rounds, 30 seconds.

Perform four to five rounds, but keep the rest.

Coach’s Tip: Focus on form rather than speed.

HIIT Cardio Workout

This full-body HIIT cardio workout combines bodyweight exercises with cardio machines. It’s quick and dirty — you’ll be in and out in 15 to 20 minutes. The workout consists of two supersets. You’ll work as hard as you can for 20 or 30 seconds for each exercise, rest for 30 or 40 seconds, move on to the next exercise, and repeat for four rounds.

[Read More: The Best Treadmills for Running]

Each superset consists of one full-body movement and one mainly lower-body exercise. Between the two supersets, you can rest for one to two minutes.

The Workout:

Start with a dynamic warm-up and finish with a cool-down.

Four rounds

Sprinting: 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off

Burpee: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

Rest for one to two minutes.

Four rounds

Skater: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

Rowing Machine: 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off

How Often to Do This Workout: Try this one once weekly.

Equipment Needed: You’ll need a treadmill and rowing machine. You can also do your sprints outdoors. You can substitute the rower with an elliptical or dual-action bike; the intention is to use a full-body cardio machine.


Make it Easier:

Exercise Alternatives:

Jog or run instead of sprint for 30 seconds, and rest for 30 seconds. 

If you can’t jog or run, do 20 to 30 seconds on an exercise bike, legs only. You can also use an arm ergometer for only upper-body movement.

Do plank walkouts instead of burpees.

Step instead of leap in your skaters.

Row slower for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds.

Take longer rest times.

Perform two to three rounds instead of four.

Make it Harder:

You can try squat jumps instead of skaters, but it will be a lot of jumping.

Track your distance in your sprinting and rowing and try to beat it.

Try five rounds.

Coach’s Tip: The sprints and rowing machine have shorter work periods because you’re meant to go as hard as you can for a true HIIT experience.

Benefits of Cardio Exercises

Yes, the rumors are true — cardio is good for you. Regular cardiovascular exercise offers many health benefits, including better heart, mental, and bone health. It can also contribute to your fitness goals, like improving endurance and aiding in weight loss.

Improves Heart Health

When you regularly do heart-pumping cardiovascular exercise, your heart gets better at pumping blood, and your heart health may improve. 

[Read More: The Best Treadmills for Walking]

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), regular cardio exercise helps lower risk factors of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. It can help manage healthy levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It improves insulin sensitivity and blood flow. (3)

Improves Cardiovascular Fitness

Regularly doing HIIT or steady-state endurance exercise improves your endurance, VO2 max, and aerobic capacity. Your body gets better at transporting oxygen to your muscles, and your muscles get better at using it. This benefits both exercise performance and performing activities of daily life with less fatigue. (3)

Helps Mental Health and Wellness

Some believe cardio exercise releases endorphins, but research shows cardio may raise serotonin levels. Either way, cardio releases “feel good” chemicals in your brain. Thus, regular cardio exercise can boost mental health by improving your mood and helping to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression. It also can improve self-esteem and provide a healthy distraction. (4)(5)

Strengthens Bones

Weight-bearing cardio exercise (along with resistance training) helps strengthen your bones and benefits people with or at risk of osteoporosis. All exercises here are weight-bearing — except for the elliptical, cycling, and rowing because you’re not supporting your body weight. (6)

May Aid Weight Loss

When your goal is weight loss, the idea is to expend more energy (i.e., burn more calories) than you take in (through your diet). Cardio exercise burns calories, which can increase your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)

Some people struggle with weight loss, even if they burn more than they take in. Insulin sensitivity may play a role, but as the AHA states, regular cardio can also improve insulin sensitivity, so it could still help. (3)

Frequently Asked Questions

What are cardiovascular endurance exercises?

Many cardiovascular exercises can be endurance exercises; what matters is how long you perform them and at what intensity. Jogging, running, cycling, rowing, brisk walking, and stair climbing are endurance exercises, but bodyweight moves may be as well if you do them continuously.

Sprinting hard for 20 seconds is more anaerobic than endurance, though you’ll likely do a few rounds. Taking a slower jog or moderate-intensity run for 30 minutes or more is an endurance exercise because you don’t stop moving. The same can be said for a cycling sprint versus a longer bike ride.

The idea is to be continuously moving; your body doesn’t know whether you’re doing burpees or jogging, as long as it’s for a longer period than 20 to 30 intense seconds and stopping.

Why are cardiovascular exercises important?

Cardiovascular exercises strengthen your cardiovascular system, improving cardiovascular health and preventing heart disease. They also contribute to bone health and mental health. Cardio also builds endurance, improves athletic performance, and can help with weight loss by burning more calories.

Is 20 minutes of cardio enough?

The American Heart Association gives physical activity guidelines for adults. They recommend 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise, 75 to 150 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise, or a combination of both every week. (7)
So, 20 minutes of cardio could be enough for one day; think of it as part of a weekly goal. 


Patel H, Alkhawam H, Madanieh R, Shah N, Kosmas CE, Vittorio TJ. Aerobic vs anaerobic exercise training effects on the cardiovascular system. World J Cardiol. 2017 Feb 26;9(2):134-138. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v9.i2.134. 

CDC.. Measuring Physical Activity Intensity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Myers J. Cardiology patient pages. Exercise and cardiovascular health. Circulation. 2003 Jan 7;107(1):e2-5. 

Heijnen S, Hommel B, Kibele A, Colzato LS. Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise-A Review. Front Psychol. 2016 Jan 7;6:1890. 

Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. 

Benedetti MG, Furlini G, Zati A, Letizia Mauro G. The Effectiveness of Physical Exercise on Bone Density in Osteoporotic Patients. Biomed Res Int. 2018 Dec 23;2018:4840531. 

Piercy, K. L., & Troiano, R. P. (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans From the US Department of Health and Human Services. AHA Journal, 11(11).

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