Exciting variations on cardiovascular exercises

Cardiovascular exercises are the most important workout required by your body in terms of losing weight and improving the general health. These exercises help you in achieving the target heart rate zone which varies from 50 percent to 85 percent of you maximum heart rate. Cardiovascular exercises involve large muscles and provide continuous supply of oxygen to these muscles which make your heart and lungs stronger. These exercises have lot of health benefits like lowering the blood pressure and keeping you fit by burning the extra calories; though it is advisable not to overdo these exercises to refrain from straining your body and heart. There is a wide variety of indoor and outdoor cardiovascular exercises like elliptical, rollerblading, gym ball, power yoga, kettlebells, pillates, zumba, rowing, step aerobics, etc. All these exercises are very effective and one can choose any out of these depending on the goal and what one enjoys doing.

Elliptical exercise

If you are bored with your general routine of treadmill, then elliptical machine can offer you a good variation. This low impact exercise doesn’t stress your joints, hips and ankles but at the same time helps in stimulating motion of your running. Vary the workout by running at high speed for a short interval and then walking with high resistance, keeping your heart rate elevated throughout. Try the elliptical machine for strength training with your arms and legs for at least two days per week and then try to push and pull the elliptical arm bars avoiding the use of legs for 10 minutes and for the next 10 minutes try to engage your legs on the elliptical machine with a high resistance. For an adequate weight loss, a routine of 60 to 90 minutes, 5 times per week should be followed. To avoid injuring yourself, wear proper and recommended footwear and never compromise on the quality of the machine.


Rollerblading is an exciting variation of cardio workout. It could replace running and still give you the same benefits but it’s always better to consult your doctor before starting it. Exercises like rollerblading require correct balance and stable action of your core muscles and is an excellent low impact exercise for your abs and joints. There is a perpetual contraction of large muscles of the lower body placing a continuous demand over your cardiovascular system for a steady supply of oxygen. This activity exercises your outer and inner thigh and the calf muscles actively. Rollerblading can burn 900 to 1400 calories in an hour. It is always better to learn the technique properly to avoid falling or injuring yourself and always invest in high quality skates and other safety equipment like pads, helmet and wrists support, etc.

Gym ball exercise

The gym ball comes in different sizes ranging from 14 to 34 inches in diameter. This activity involves back extensions, crunches, etc. To do a back extension, lie on your stomach on the exercise ball, with feet on the floor, placing the hands behind your head. Now slide on the ball till the ball reaches under the middle of your stomach, slowly rise so that your upper torso is 4 to 8 inches away from the ball. Hold the position for about 3 seconds and come back to the starting position, do it 12 times. The crunches work on the abs of your body. There are many more variations of the gym ball which can work out all the muscles of your body. The medicinal ball places a lot of load on your core and falling off the ball can injure the spine.

Power yoga

Power yoga is a popular American version of yoga. This type of yoga is vigorous and athletic in nature which stimulates the whole body and is physically very challenging. This style combines a series of breathing exercises and active postures for a session of 20 minutes and a person burns around 168 calories during this session. This is a full body workout where spine is considered to be the core of all the movements. Main goal of power yoga is strengthening and increasing flexibility, improving circulation, detoxifying and aligning of spine. Power yoga includes standing to seated poses. This form of yoga is a branch of hatha yoga where instructors may have their own interpretations. Always consult your instructor if you have any particular concerns about practicing yoga.


Rowing is a cardiovascular activity which exercises both upper and lower portion of the body thus delivering a higher heart rate. Rowing machine works like rowing a boat and is a great calorie burner. Hold the handles of the machine like oars rowing in a forward and backward motion. The inbuilt meter of the machine measures the intensity level of your performance. This workout can burn as much as 300 calories in half an hour if carried out by a 145 lb person. Rowing helps in reducing the excess fat from upper parts of the body like arms and back as well as the lower parts like thighs and muscles. Rowing machine tones and strengthens the calf, arms, shoulder and abdominal muscles. This activity can be performed by anybody and any age group safely.

Step aerobics

Step aerobics is an intense cardiovascular exercise for people who enjoy choreographed workouts. This workout can be practiced at home too or one can join the step aerobics class at the gym. It also helps in burning whooping calories and brings up the energy levels wonderfully. An intense workout can burn as many as 300 to 400 calories in 30 minutes. Make sure that both sides of the steps are at the same level, laid horizontally on the floor. Stand firmly on the ground behind the step and raise your knee and step up and step down from the other side. If your knee bends more than 90 degrees, then lessen the height of the step. You could also incorporate some arm swings in your exercise for some variation. This exercise helps in toning and shaping the legs and hips.


Kettlebells or a Turkish getup exercise improvises unique and unusual movements which challenges your body to improve its fitness level. It is always better to start with basic movements like kettlebell swings and slowly make it more intense with practice. Some of the common and simple exercises for beginners are Turkish getups, single arm swings, front squat, etc. Kettlebells efficiently provides each and every muscle of the body an even workout inducing weight loss. Even the core of the body is engaged during this workout strengthening your back, abdominal muscles and the joints. Kettlebells is great for doing power exercises then the traditional dumbell routine. It is always better to have an expert coach to give you kettlebell training or you may end up injuring yourself. This enjoyable, fun activity incorporates both cardio and weight training. People of all ages can take up kettlebell exercises deriving results in just 15 minute session.


Pilates is a good variation of cardiovascular exercise which can be performed at home too but it is always better to take the guidance of an instructor. There are about 100 pilate exercises which work on your core muscles including your arms and leg muscles too. Lie on your back and lift your legs with your knees bent at 90 degrees, balance your body in such a way that your pelvis remains on the floor, now raise both your arms, forwarding both your shoulders. Then slowly straighten your legs upward, holding the position for 5 seconds and return the shoulders back to its place and the legs back to a 90 degree angle. Make sure that your abdominal muscle is tight during this activity and pay close attention to your movements to avoid back injury. There are standing, side lift pile and back extension, etc. exercises which work on all your body parts. You could burn 238 calories in 1 hour of pilate session.


Zumba is a Latin inspired dance workout which is gaining a rapid popularity. This dance form is a cardiovascular activity which uses dance steps to burn calories and lose weight. It includes a combination of salsa, meringue, cumbia and reggaeton. This dance is more popularly known as fitness party where the participants dance to Latin music. Zumba involves prolonged activity of the core, legs and arms in rhythm challenging the heart, lungs and circulatory system. This dance raises the heart beat efficiently and burns 300 to 800 calories per hour. Zumba toning classes work on all the muscles of body from head to toe. Its choreography even sneaks into squats, lunges crunches and even leg lifts. If you are a zumba beginner and you have certain health concerns, then check with your doctor before you start the regime and if you ever feel dizzy during the class, then stop immediately.

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