When it comes to stripping away the fat and building a lean, athletic body, there are several different forms of aerobic activity that will get the job done. You can commit to one activity you enjoy, or mix it up and alternate between a few to keep things interesting. Switching forms of cardio is a great way to break out of a fat loss plateau. Here are some options to get your heart pumping.


Walking is a great starting point for a beginner or for someone who’s overweight. You could walk on a treadmill or walk outdoors and vary the intensity. Walking is a low intensity exercise, meaning the overall calorie burn is minimal – less than other forms of exercise. As you progress, increase the elevation on the treadmill or incorporate walking uphill and move at a faster pace. For maximum fat loss you should walk for no less than 45 minutes a day and work up to 60 minutes gradually.



Treadmills present many advantages, including the convenience of training indoors during bad weather or working out at home. They offer incline or decline elevation to resemble outdoor terrain, make your workouts more challenging and also offer a variety of workout programs. They also monitor your heart rate and can give you an estimate of calories burned if you input accurate data such as your weight. Make sure you wear good sports shoes to avoid injuries, which are often caused by over exercising on treadmills.

Elliptical machines

The elliptical machines use a circular motion of stride and are ideal for people who are nursing knee or leg injuries. You can stride forwards or backwards to vary your workouts and can increase the resistance and incline levels. As this is a self-paced machine, you’ll need to keep pushing yourself to maximize your fat-burning results.

Stairmaster or stair climbers

These machines mimic the act of climbing stairs and offer hardcore workouts. They often come with rails on the side to offer support. Try to minimize gripping onto these, however, as they can greatly reduce your total calorie burn.

Running outdoors

Running or jogging outdoors offers multiple benefits when it comes to fat burning, health and fitness. Not only is it free and easy to do without any equipment, it can keep things interesting as you enjoy the outdoors. You can choose your route, select whether to run uphill or downhill and vary the intensity. As with elliptical machines running outdoors is self-paced, so make sure you keep pushing yourself. It might not be possible to run during bad weather, but some people zip up and go for it anyway. Try to steer clear of running during extremely hot weather to avoid sunstroke.

Recreational activities

These may include tennis, basketball, football, squash or anything else that gets your heart rate up. Commit to playing a sport several times a week and you’ll find yourself with a hobby and a metabolism booster combined. The added advantage is that you might find you enjoy playing a sport with friends and see it as a fun pastime which is an enjoyable alternative to a repetitive cardio session at the gym.


Biking offers unparalleled benefits when it comes to fat loss. It is non-impact, which reduces the risk of injury and it’s also suitable for anyone nursing leg or knee injuries. You can choose to cycle outdoors or on stationary bikes in the gym. Stationary bikes offer several programs to keep you challenged with varied workouts. Whether biking in the gym or outdoors, pedal at a fast pace and crank up the intensity as you progress.

Rowing machines

Rowing machines found in the gym offer full-body workouts for maximal fat burning. As rowing is non-impact it is suitable for those suffering from joint injuries. The resistance levels on the machine can be adjusted, allowing you to keep challenging yourself as you progress.


Swimming offers a full-body workout that is also non-impact, and which puts zero stress on the body. Swimming is a very popular form of exercise among expectant mothers and those suffering from muscle or joint injuries. Recent research has revealed that swimming in cold water can increase your appetite, so make sure you keep your calories in check if you choose swimming as your form of cardio.

Jump rope

A skipping rope is inexpensive, easy to carry around and can be used anywhere, whether at home or in the gym. With skipping you’re in full control of the intensity and can progress gradually. Skipping with a rope also offers an enormous calorie burn for fat loss.

Exercise classes

Classes are a fun and interesting form of exercise that you can do with friends or use as a way to meet new people. Multiple classes are offered in most gyms, to offer variety, and can increase your adherence to set times and schedules. Music, a group of people and an enthusiastic fitness instructor are great source of motivation for people who find regular cardio machines monotonous.

Home workout DVDs

Workout DVDs are becoming increasingly popular, allowing you the convenience of training in the privacy of your home. There are hundreds of workout DVDs available on the market. Some of the most popular include Insanity, P90X and RushFit, among many others. Another added convenience is that you’re free to choose the hour of your workout, which may be very late at night or extremely early in the morning, when gyms are closed. Parents with full-time schedules may also enjoy the benefits of working out at home while their children are playing in the next room.

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