There are many different reasons why you may be interested in performing cardio workouts that do not include running, with joint pain and a general hate for cardio topping the list for most people. Whether you physically can't withstand the pressure that running places on your body or have a real dislike for running in general, you have tons of options for burning calories that don't include lacing up the sneakers and pounding pavement.

Low-Tension Machinery

Your first option would be to purchase or otherwise gain access to some variety of workout machinery. Many people who can't stand running can get into a walk on the treadmill or a ride on a spin bike, especially when it is done in their own home with the distraction of some good music or a television.

If your biggest concern with running is the stress on your joints, then consider low-tension machinery such as an elliptical or recumbent bike. If your pain is more severe, you would likely be better off with a recumbent bike, but you can do arm lifts with dumbbells to make the workout more intense. You may also be able to do adjust the tension on the bike to create a more demanding yet completely joint safe workout.


This has to be at the top of the list for cardio alternatives whether you love to run or not. You can dance anywhere, anytime and can make it as intense or gentle as you want it to be. Your movements can be wild and intense so you burn hundreds of calories per session or you can dance around in a calmer manner that delivers a more conservative calorie burn.

Dancing will also help relieve stress and leave you in a much happier mood!


Many people who hate exercise in general can deal with swimming laps or taking a water aerobics class. If you have severe lower body pain or problems with bending your leg joints you can swim with your legs out behind you, pulling your lower body through the pool with your upper body.

If you have limitations of movement with your upper body, you can prop your chest and upper body on the side wall and kick your legs out behind you to get in some form of a workout.

For those with more severe pain or physical limitations, just getting in the pool and keeping your body moving can be a form of cardio that helps keep you healthy and helps control weight.

Interval Training

If your problem is just that you hate running or have a general distaste for cardio workouts, consider doing a variety of strength movements mixed with some non-running cardio bursts. You will virtually be performing strength building movements with 30-60 seconds of cardio movement thrown in to elevate your heart rate and burn more calories.

Some non-running cardio movements that can be added include:

* Step-ups on a small platform or exercise step.

* Knee lifts.

* Jumping jacks (if necessary, step legs out and in rather than jumping)

* Fast punches (squat down, punch out in front of you with control)

Whatever your reasons are for not wanting to run, it is no excuse to become sedentary or continue to live a sedentary lifestyle! Just find a way to get your body moving, even if it's just strapping on a $5 pedometer and vowing to walk 5,000 steps a day.

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