These 4 Low-Impact Cardio Moves Work Your Heart As Much As Running a Mile

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People either love running or they despise it. There's not a whole lot of in-between. While it's undoubtedly one of the most well-known ways to get in some cardio, it's not your only option. Surprisingly, you can amp up your heart rate by doing low-impact cardio exercises, too—ones that are much easier on your body.

"You definitely don't have to run in order to get in a good cardio session—and that’s coming from an online running/endurance coach," says Sam Tooley, an online personal trainer and marathon coach in New Jersey. "While running may be the best bang for your buck in terms of true blue cardio, there are dozens of other ways to get your heart rate up—including low-impact cardio exercises."

Aside from these low-impact exercises being much more joint-friendly, they can get your heart rate up in the same way running would, whether you stick to one or do them together. "The easiest way to get your heart rate up is to work continuously for extended periods of time with short rest periods," Tooley says. "Any flow of movements you can can pair together to get your heart rate jacked up and a sweat going do the trick."

To get in some cardio the low-impact way, start with these simple exercises.

These low-impact cardio exercises can work your heart as much as a run

1. Step-ups

If you don't think step-ups will leave you breathless, think again. "Step-ups engage the same mechanics as running while potentially increasing the strength required, as the range of motion to complete each rep is increased," Tooley says.

How to do it:

  1. Find a platform sturdy enough to step onto, like stairs, an ottoman, bench, or chair.
  2. Place your right foot on the center of the platform. Press into the platform as you drive your body up, bringing your left foot to the platform.
  3. Engage your core at the top, then step back down with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Repeat on the opposite side.

2. Mountain climbers

Anyone who has done a round of mountain climbers knows they're tough. With that being said, they're a great way to get in your cardio the low-impact way. Aside from increasing your heart rate, they also help strengthen your core.

How to do it:

  1. Start in a high plank position, keeping a straight line from your head to your heels. Make sure your back is flat and your shoulders are over your wrists.
  2. March your legs, bringing your knees to your chest. Don't go too fast, as that could cause you to lose your form.

3. Slider reverse lunges

One simple way to make lunges low-impact—but just as effective!—is to add sliders to the mix. If you don't have actual sliders on hand, use a folded towel, paper plate, or even a sock.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with a slider under your right foot
  2. Slide your right foot behind you. Your toes should be on the slider, and your heel should be lifted off the floor.
  3. Bend your knees as you move into a lunge. When you pause at the bottom of your lunge, both knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Don't allow your knee to touch the floor.
  4. Push through your left heel and squeeze your glutes to stand.

4. Bodyweight squats

Keep things more low-impact by doing squats with nothing more than your bodyweight. You don't need to use weights in order to get your heart rate up.

How to do it:

  1. Stand in a strong stance with your feet wide.
  2. Sit into a squat, shifting your weight into your heels with your chest lifted.
  3. Squeeze your glutes as you return to your starting position.

Now, try this 25-minute, low-impact cardio workout:

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