Cardio can be fun—no treadmill required

Three cardio alternatives to running

Image by: Herbert Wang
Ultimate frisbee is an enjoyable way to get your cardio in.

Cardio can be a big ask for many people, considering we often associate it primarily with running.

You feel like you can’t breathe, you’re sweating like crazy, and you’re probably not enjoying a second of it—yet you feel like you need to “get your cardio in,” so you push through. But having a run as your only option for cardio can get boring and repetitive. Eventually, it can hurt your joints or muscles if not practiced or well enough stretched for.

This is not something you need to go through. There are various cardio options that we seem to neglect. Here are some less painful, yet still successful, ways to fit cardio into your exercise schedule. 


Running seems less like a chore when you’re chasing a frisbee.

One of the most common ways students here at Queen’s participate in cardio is through intramurals. This is a great way for you to enjoy time with friends, while still moving your body.

High-intensity sports like ultimate frisbee or flag football are sports that don’t take much experience and are simply a way to get out of the house, get involved, and get moving.

One of the biggest benefits of high-intensity intramurals like these is that when you’re chasing after frisbees and laughing with friends, you forget you’re actually doing cardio. You’re still running, but you’re also laughing, chatting, and have a goal you’re trying to accomplish—much better than staring at a wall while you’re on a treadmill. 

Further, forcing yourself to leave the house and go to the gym can take a lot of motivation and effort. The great thing about joining an intramural team is that there’s a scheduled time of commitment and you have friends holding you accountable to attend, which is motivation enough.


If you have an artistic side, utilize it. For me, a great way to get my cardio in is dancing and doing Zumba. The great thing about dancing is there are many forms that you can go for, which might make the cardio experience enjoyable—unlike running, which lacks variation.

Whether you’re taking classes led by instructors to guide you through the motions, or booking a room in the ARC to take it into your own hands and improve, dancing is a great way to get your cardio in.

Dancing is an emotional way to release stress, express yourself, and move your body. Whether a hip-hop routine or ballet, it counts as cardio.


Swimming is a great alternative to running.

The many positives to swimming are you’re gaining resistance training, it’s easier on your joints and muscles, and depending on what stroke you do, you can work different areas of your body.

The resistance comes from pushing against the water. For a little science lesson, water is a heavier density than air, which, in turn, provides pushback to your body.

Further, while running puts pressure on your knees, swimming allows for little to no pressure on your bones and limbs, which can create a positive exercise and overall health experience. You do not suffer injuries or pain as often as you would from running.

Swimming can also be relaxing and is a great way to clear your head. When you’re in the water, you have no other distractions, noises, or things to worry about. It’s a great escape from reality for a small period of time—which, unfortunately, running doesn’t offer you.


Participating in cardio should not be a strenuous activity you put your body through or something you dread doing. You should feel enjoyment and pride from completing an exercise, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like an exercise.

There are ways to enjoy working out, you just need to find what’s best for you.


Cardio, Dance, Fitness, Intramurals, Running, swimming

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