Gym equipment is not a requirement for getting a great cardio workout. Even if you have nothing more than a patch of floor space in your living room, you can design an aerobic exercise plan that’s tailored to your goals and ability level. Plenty of basic, foundational moves are easy to do at home and are guaranteed to raise your heart rate every time.

Beginner Moves

Many body weight exercises are very accessible for beginners and can burn hundreds of calories in just 30 minutes. Try building a circuit workout that includes 60-second sets of marching in place, jumping jacks, lunges, step ups, jogging in place, punches, squats and butt kicks. Do each exercise at your own pace, rest for 30 seconds in between each set, and repeat the entire circuit three times if you’re able.

Intermediate Level

If you grow bored with basic cardio exercises or simply want to raise the intensity of your workout, try moves that combine strength training and aerobic conditioning. Examples include burpees, squat jumps, plank jacks, jump rope, mountain climbers, skaters and high kicks. You can also perform traditional body weight exercises, such as pushups and crunches, at a much faster pace than usual so that your heart rate continues to climb.

More Challenges

As you become fitter and stronger, you can push any cardio exercise to the next level by holding light hand weights while you do it. “By adding resistance, you boost your heart rate and burn more fat and calories without adding time to your workout,” fitness instructor Alison Davis-McLain told Gaiam Life. Start small, because even a little bit of resistance can make a big difference. Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, recommends using weights that are no heavier than 3 pounds so that you minimize pressure on your wrist and elbow joints. Using light weights in your cardio workout can boost your calorie burn by up to 15 percent.


For health and weight maintenance, the American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Before you begin any new workout plan, whether it’s at home or at the gym, get approval from your doctor. If you need help learning proper form, hire a personal trainer to come to your home for a few sessions to help you get started.

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