At a minimum, doing cardio is essentially about moving. The intensity varies across a spectrum of high to low, and it depends mostly on your goals. If you simply can’t get to a treadmill, that’s OK. These creative cardio workouts — yes, dusting counts! — can return the spirit you need to fulfill your fitness goals when lack of motivation hits. Here we think outside the treadmill box.
Calories burned in 30 minutes: 120
Logging household chores like vacuuming, dusting, mopping, sweeping, doing laundry, etc., is legit. Spending a Saturday afternoon cleaning house can burn as many calories as taking a 60-minute kickboxing class. Plus, you help move yourself toward your daily 10,000-step goal. Consider the fruits of your labor — a spotless home — just icing on the cake.
Calories burned in 30 minutes: 130
Walking has a low barrier to entry and can be done virtually anywhere — the treadmill, the mall, a museum, an airport, your neighborhood, local trails, etc. You can also create a cardio pump playlist to listen to on your phone to help increase your exercise performance. Spice up your walks with intervals, weights, hills, you name it.
Playing an Instrument
Calories burned in 30 minutes: 70
Strumming a guitar might not burn major calories, but you could learn and/or perfect a new skill with practice. Whether you prefer the guitar, violin, drums or piano, you’ll burn calories in a productive way. In addition to the calorie burn, learning play a musical instrument helps protect against dementia and cognitive impairment, according to the Internal Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Calories burned in 30 minutes: 150–250
If you don’t wake up full of energy and ready to participate in high-impact exercise, consider a barre class. “[Barre] increases heart rate, builds muscle tone and provides little-to-no impact on the body,” says Shanda Domango, NASM, Barre Above certified. In addition, “Barre workouts provide a great cross-training option as it combines yoga, resistance training, Pilates and ballet.”
Calories burned in 30 minutes: 275
Climbing stairs is a good way to up your step count if it’s between the elevator and the stairs, but you can also continuously climb up and down stairs for a killer workout. While taking two at a time seems harder, climb them one at a time. According to the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found while calorie expenditure remained higher taking stairs two at a time, the burn throughout an entire flight of stairs was higher when taking them one at a time.