During the era of social distancing, one of the only times you might feel comfortable leaving your house or apartment is to go for your daily run or walk. While running and walking are both great cardio exercises, a tour around your neighborhood might become a little repetitive after two months.
The great news is that you can do amazing cardio workouts right in your living room. If you don’t have exercise equipment at home, that’s not a problem. Most cardio exercises can be done without any extra tools.
Most people know that cardio exercise is great for improving your immunity, heart health, and overall level of fitness. Robert Segal, MD, Founder of Manhattan Cardiology, told Well+Good his three favorite cardio exercises to improve heart health.
Three cardiologist-recommended cardio exercises
“It is important to do these moves because remaining indoors for a long duration of time can run the risk of a sedentary lifestyle, depression, and decreased immune system,” Segal told Well+Good.
- Jumping jacks
The thought of jumping jacks might bring you right back to elementary school physical education class, but we are taught this exercise from a young age because it is a great form of cardio.
Though the exercise seems basic, it is successful in getting your arms and legs moving at the same time, which gets your heart pumping quickly. Jumping jacks have also been found to improve bone density, which is a great added bonus as it makes bones stronger and less likely to break.
- Jumping rope
Sticking with the theme of elementary school, jumping rope, a favorite outdoor recess activity for many children, is also a favorite exercise recommended by this cardiologist.
You can incorporate jumping rope into a metabolic conditioning workout, or practice it on your own. If you don’t have a jump rope at home, you can mimic the movement by “swinging” an imaginary rope over your head and hopping over it as it “hits” the ground.
- Jump lunges
While you may have not done jump lunges as a kid in elementary school, they are a great exercise to incorporate into your cardio routine as an adult. Jump lunges give you a burst of cardio while also including a strength-training element for your leg and glute muscles.
The benefits of cardio
Cardio, otherwise known as aerobic exercise, has tremendous health benefits, regardless of age, weight or athletic ability.
During cardio exercise, you breathe both faster and deeper, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart also beats faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs.
During cardio exercises, your small blood vessels widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products like carbon dioxide and lactic acid. As a plus, your body releases endorphins, which are the natural painkillers that make you happier.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 10 main benefits of cardio exercise:
- It keeps excess pounds at bay.
- It increases your stamina, fitness and strength.
- It can help you ward off viral illnesses (we could all use an immune boost right now!)
- It can help reduce your health risks like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stroke and certain types of cancer.
- It can help manage chronic conditions by lowering blood pressure and control blood sugar.
- It can strengthen your heart.
- It helps keep your arteries clear.
- The endorphins released during cardio boost your mood.
- Consistent cardio exercise helps you stay active and independent as you age.
- All of the combined benefits of cardio exercise help you live longer.
Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.