Last Updated on March 22, 2024

What’s the best cardio at home is a question I get asked often. What cardio to do at a gym not so much.  That’s because the gym is stocked with cardio equipment like treadmills, elliptical machines, stairclimbers, rowing machines, etc.  Most gyms also offer aerobics classes.  Together these are some of the best cardio options because they maximize calorie burn, offer variety, and can be adjusted by resistance or speed to suit your skill level.

But if you don’t have equipment at your house you may be wondering what cardio you can do at home that’ll help you burn fat and get fit.  And that’s exactly what I’m going to be breaking down for you in this post.

I’ll be covering:

  • The benefits of doing cardio at home
  • The main categories of at home cardio
  • The pros and cons of each type of at home cardio
  • And my recommendations for the best cardio workout at home


Benefits of doing cardio at home


Cardiovascular exercise, commonly known as cardio or aerobic exercise, offers a wide range of benefits for both physical and mental health. Here are some of the key benefits of cardio:

  • Improves Heart Health: Cardio exercises strengthen the heart muscle, improving its ability to pump blood efficiently throughout the body. This reduces the risk of heart diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
  • Increases Lung Capacity: Regular cardio workouts improve lung function and increase oxygen intake, enhancing overall respiratory health.
  • Aids Weight Management: Cardio exercises burn calories and help create a caloric deficit, which can contribute to weight loss and weight management when combined with a balanced diet.
  • Boosts Metabolism: Cardio workouts increase metabolic rate, leading to more efficient calorie burning even when at rest, which can aid in weight loss and weight maintenance.
  • Enhances Endurance: Regular cardio training improves stamina and endurance, allowing individuals to perform daily activities with less fatigue and tackle physical tasks with greater ease.
  • Improves Mood: Cardiovascular exercise triggers the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that promote feelings of happiness and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Enhances Cognitive Function: Cardio exercises increase blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new brain cells and improving cognitive function, memory, and concentration.
  • Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases: Engaging in regular cardio exercise lowers the risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and metabolic syndrome.
  • Strengthens Immune System: Moderate-intensity cardio workouts can boost the immune system, reducing the risk of infections and illness.
  • Improves Sleep Quality: Regular aerobic exercise can help regulate sleep patterns, promoting deeper, more restful sleep and reducing the incidence of sleep disorders such as insomnia.
  • Enhances Energy Levels: Cardiovascular exercise increases energy levels by improving circulation, oxygenating tissues, and enhancing overall physical fitness.
  • Promotes Longevity: Studies have shown that regular participation in cardiovascular exercise is associated with a longer lifespan and a reduced risk of premature death.



Overall, incorporating cardio exercise into your workout routine offers numerous health benefits, contributing to a healthier, happier, and more energetic lifestyle…

That’s also why I incorporate cardio into ALL of my Exercise Programs so you can maximize the benefits of BOTH cardio and weight training. HINT:  That’s how I get people rapid results with my workout programs.

I personally LOVE and recommend doing cardio at home because of the time savings.  In the time it takes me to get ready and drive to the gym… which is approx. 30 minutes…  I could already be done with my at home cardio workout.  Doing cardio at home is a great option if you’re busy, don’t like gyms, or are a parent.

You can get incredible results quickly when you know what kinds of cardio to do at home… because some are better in terms of getting results, convenient safer – than others.

When it comes to doing cardio at home your options fall into two main categories: with vs. without equipment and indoors vs. outdoors.

Each category has it it’s own pros and cons, too, and I’m going to break them all down for you along with my recommendations so you can maximize the benefits and minimize issues.

Please note, there are TONS of other cardio options but I’m only referencing the BEST.  So if you’re curious as to why your fave exercise isn’t listed it either doesn’t classify as cardio or doesn’t have the most benefits compared to what I’ve listed for you below…

I’m very results oriented so I’m all about maximizing benefits with the least intensity and effort so that the exercise is sustainable.  SO many at home exercise alternatives out there are not sustainable and are too intense which can cause inflammation and hormone issues…. none of my at home cardio options cause inflammation or hormone problems.


At Home Indoor Cardio Exercises:


Here are the best options for indoor cardio exercise.

With Equipment:

  • Treadmill Running/Walking: Interval training, hill workouts, or steady-state cardio.
  • Stationary Bike: Spinning classes, interval training, or steady-state cycling.
  • Elliptical Trainer: Reverse pedaling, interval resistance training, or using handlebars for upper body engagement.
  • Rowing Machine: Pyramid intervals, power strokes, or timed distance rows.
  • Stair Climber: Interval climbing, side step-ups, or adding resistance bands for extra challenge.
  • Jump Rope: Double unders, single leg jumps, or criss-cross jumps.


Without Equipment:

  • Jumping Jacks: Variations like cross jacks, seal jacks, or squat jacks.
  • High Knees: Running in place with variations like high knee skips or butt kicks.
  • Running in place:  Pretending like you’e jogging, but aren’t going anywhere.
  • Burpees: Adding push-up variations, jump squat variations, or incorporating weights for added resistance.
  • Dancing: Zumba routines, hip-hop dance workouts, or salsa dancing.
  • Kickboxing or Shadow Boxing: Incorporating punches with kicks, adding speed drills, or focusing on footwork.



Christina Carlyle jogging on a beach


Outdoor Cardio Exercises:


Here are your options for outdoor cardio exercise.  I realize that these aren’t done in a home… but I included these because indoor cardio can get monotonous and also because outdoor exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health.

With Equipment:


  • Cycling: Biking, mountain biking, road cycling races, or long-distance cycling are all great cardio options.
  • Rollerblading: Rollerblading in parks, skate parks, or participating in rollerblade marathons.  These rollerblades are great!
  • Outdoor Rowing: (water) Kayaking, sculling (using two oars), sweep rowing (using one oar), or participating in crew races.
  • Paddle boarding: (water) Paddleboarding is a versatile and enjoyable activity that can be pursued for recreation, fitness, or as a competitive sport, offering a unique way to explore the water and stay active.

Without Equipment:

  • Walking, Jogging or Running: Walk, jog, or run around your neighborhood, your favorite trail, track, or incorporate sprint or incline intervals.
  • Hiking: Backpacking on challenging trails, at parks, nature hikes, or trekking with elevation gains.
  • Staircase Running: Running stadiums, stairway circuits, or alternating between running and bodyweight exercises.
  • Swimming: (water) Open water swimming, underwater swimming drills, or water aerobics.


What type of at home cardio do you prefer?  With or without equipment?

Now that you know your different options, lets go over the pros and cons of each.


Indoor Cardio:



  • Weather Consistency: Indoor environments are not affected by weather conditions, making it easier to stick to a consistent workout routine regardless of the season.
  • Safety and Convenience: Indoors, your workout won’t be affected hazards such as traffic, uneven terrain, extreme temperatures, or worse… providing a safer environment for exercise.
  • Controlled Environment: You have control over variables like temperature, humidity, lighting, and media (tv/music) which can contribute to a more comfortable workout experience.
  • Accessibility: Indoor cardio equipment can be purchased for home use, providing easy access to a wide range of workout options.
  • Versatility: With indoor equipment, you can easily adjust settings, incorporate interval training, and track progress with built-in metrics.


  • Monotony: The indoor environment may feel repetitive compared to the changing scenery and challenges of outdoor workouts.
  • Limited Fresh Air: Indoor spaces may lack fresh air circulation or possible inhalation of contaminants (like mold, environmental toxins), which could impact breathing and overall comfort during intense workouts.
  • Equipment Dependence: Dependency on indoor equipment may limit workout options, especially if access to equipment is restricted.
  • Space Constraints: Home gyms or fitness centers may have limited space, restricting movement or exercise variety, particularly for activities like running or cycling.
  • Cardio Equipment can be an eyesore, expensive and take up a lot of space, too.


Cardio at home done with equipment gets the best results and helps you avoid issues like weather, traffic, and bugs, etc.

The Solution: Home friendly cardio equipment!


an at home cardio stepper machine


My recommendation for the best Indoor Cardio Workout with Equipment is this Cardio Stepper Machine.

I’m obsessed with this Stepper because:

  • It’s small:  it doesn’t take up a lot of space and you can easily hid it in a closet or storage bench.  So it’s not an eyesore and you can easily move it from room to room or indoors and outdoors.
  • It gives you a great workout!  It gets my heart rate in range and gets me sweating every single time I use it.
  • It has tracking data:  You can easily track your steps, calorie burn, intensity, and time.  Plus, if you step off it’ll save your place and it’ll keep tracking once you start using it again.  To reset your data simply hold the button down and you’ll be back at zero.
  • It’s affordable:  It’s (much) less than $100.  This cost me LESS than the price of one month at my gym.
  • It works the full body!  It has attachments that you can use to train your arms as you’re doing cardio.  You can also easily remove them if you want, too.


I also like this treadmill… well technically it’s a walking pad, and is significantly smaller and more compact than a treadmill at the gym.

It has the same benefits of the cardio stepper, except it’s a treadmill.  I love it because you can easily slide it under other furniture.


an at home treadmill walking platform machine


Outdoor Cardio Pros & Cons:



  • Scenic Variety: Outdoor workouts offer diverse landscapes and scenery, enhancing motivation and enjoyment during exercise.
  • Vitamin D Exposure: Exercising outdoors exposes you to natural sunlight, which can boost mood, energy levels, hormone production, and vitamin D production.
  • Challenging Terrain: Outdoor environments provide natural challenges such as hills, trails, and varying surfaces, which can enhance strength, balance, and coordination.
  • Cost Savings: Outdoor workouts are generally free, requiring no membership fees or equipment purchases beyond basic necessities like shoes or appropriate attire.
  • Exercising outdoors offers numerous health benefits, including improved mood, enhanced cognitive function, and reduced stress levels.



  • Weather Dependency: Outdoor workouts are susceptible to weather conditions like rain, snow, or extreme heat, which may require adjustments or cancellations.
  • Safety Concerns: Outdoor environments pose risks such as traffic, uneven terrain, or wildlife encounters, necessitating heightened awareness and precautions.
  • Limited Accessibility: Access to suitable outdoor locations may be restricted depending on location, season, or time of day, particularly for those living in urban areas or regions with extreme climates.
  • Equipment Transport: Outdoor activities like cycling or hiking may require transportation of equipment to and from workout locations, adding logistical complexity.
  • Less Control Over Variables: Outdoor conditions like temperature, humidity, and lighting are less controllable, potentially impacting comfort and performance.


The Solution: Exercise outdoors w/ proper precautions

Because being outdoors is so good for your physical and mental health I recommend incorporating it into your routine when weather permits.

Walking/running and biking are my best recommendations to get a great cardio workout outdoors. Alternative between the two helps maximize health benefits and prevents boredom and risk of receptive stress injuries.

Walking and running (obviously) doesn’t require equipment and you can do it anywhere!  First and foremost, I recommend walking in your neighborhood.  But you can also shake up your routine by running or by walking/running at a nearby park or your favorite nature trail.

To boost your benefits and results I recommend wearing these ankle weights.  I love this set because you can adjust them from 2 up to 10 pounds and they come in tons of cute colors.  I really love ankle weights because they boost calorie burn so you can get even better results in the same amount of time when you wear them vs. if you’re not.

Biking is a great way to maximize calorie burn.

Walking (or biking) while it’s light out so you can absorb the most vitamin D, can avoid bugs, and other safety concerns like being hard to see.

I also recommend keeping your cell phone on you and wearing brightly colored clothes (and a helmet if you’re on a bike).


Now that you know your options, start incorporating your preferred at home cardio methods into your workout routine.  Remember, I incorporate cardio into ALL of my Exercise Programs so you can maximize the benefits of BOTH cardio and weight training.  That’s what my Exercise Programs do for you and why they work so well!

Take my Program Style Quiz to find the perfect exercise program for you.

Your Coach & Biggest Cheerleader,



Christina Carlyle jogging outside and text that says the best outdoor cardio with the most benefits