Never figured out just what people mean by “runner’s high”? Worried about maintaining your overall health and your cardiovascular health without the daily drudge of a run? We’ve got you covered! You can stay healthy, get in shape, burn calories, and lose weight easily without running; it just takes a little creativity. Engaging in a combination of other athletic activities can boost your heart health and burn off stress, too. Below is a high-quality list of cardio-focused, fat-burning activities that won’t have you running around the block or rolling your eyes at the treadmill.


If you have access to a gym full of workout machines, you never need to run again! Elliptical, cycling, swimming, and rowing machines are all excellent alternatives to running.  For many, they are much lower-impact, too. Simply hop on one of these machines and you can easiily burn just as many calories as you would running, and with much less stress (and possibly more fun!).

Ellipticals are easy alternatives to running once you get used to the flow of the machine. The biggest bonus of an elliptical is that you can easily adjust the incline and resistance, making your workout even more effective. Harvard Medical School claims you burn over 2 calories per pound of body weight every minute on the elliptical, so even 30 minutes can be worth it.

Cycling — whether indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors — can be even more intense than running, but it is easier on your knees and much more enjoyable. Depending on your biking style, you can use scenery to keep you motivated, up the intensity or stance, or use a bike as transportation to kill two birds with one stone. On a bike, you can burn over 650 calories an hour, making it an easy way to lose some weight and/or stay in shape.

Getting Out Of The Gym

Who said you have to stay in the gym to get healthy? Whether you take a class or embrace the following ideas and hobbies on your own, each of these activities will burn calories, put you in a great mood, and change the way you think about working out.

Hiking is a fun and interesting way to get your steps in and your calories burned. Take the family out for a day of exploration, wander around your nearest national park or forest, or plan a weekend getaway where you can spend time enjoying and celebrating nature. Often, while hiking you’ll get so caught up in the beauty of the surroundings you won’t even notice how many calories you’re burning! Depending on your body weight, you could burn upwards of 500 calories in a hour of hiking, so it’s certainly more than just idle meandering, even if you bring a picnic.

Another fun way to combine exercise and enjoyment is to take up dancing or kickboxing. Both of these activities are fun, easy to learn, and great at burning calories and stress. Many local gyms offer dance and kickboxing classes, but even if they don’t (or if you don’t want to pay to join), there are easy ways to learn without a face-to-face teacher. Pull up some YouTube videos, get in the zone, and punch or dance your way to a new you. Kickboxing especially is an intense calorie burner: someone weighing 155 pounds can burn over 740 calories in one hour! It’s also a pretty great way to release any pent-up anger or frustration.

Combination Workouts

Harken back to your schoolhouse gym for a minute — there’s more to those elementary exercises than meets the eye! There are a large number of seemingly simple exercises that can do great things for your body, mind, and soul, and you won’t have to look too har to find the materials (or the motivation) to do them.

Jumping rope is much more than a childhood pastime. Jumping rope for a continued period of rime requires that you keep your core tight and hold your focus on the timing of the rope: the calf burn alone will tell you that you’ve done some serious work when you’re finished! Consider switching it up to jump on one foot for a while, or try jumping rope as fast as you can to really amp up your heart rate!

Another way to burn calories and get your heart pumping without investing in any new learning or machinery is to do circuts of pretty common workout techniques. Choose a couple of your favorite activities and plan a rotating workout routine. Burpees, jumping jacks, high knees, and jump squats are all great places to start. Determine your order of activities first, and then choose a number of reps. Repeat the cycle as many times as you can to get the most benefit to your heart and muscles.

Walking on an incline is another excellent cardio friendly activity. If you walk on an incline of at least 10 degrees, your body is burning just as many calories as it would running, just without the running! Also, if you live in a mountinous or hilly area, it might only require you stepping outside to be walking on an incline. Your heart will be healthy and your glutes will look and feel great after a hilly hike or hour on the treadmill.


Just because you aren’t into running doesn’t mean you don’t have the opportunity to be healthy, happy, and athletic. Try combining any or all of the previous answers into your workout — switching up your routine is another great way to stay motivated and fit. Once you get into the habit of exercising regularly, you won’t be able to believe that you ever lived without it.