10 heart-healthy activities: alternatives to brisk walking

Exercise and Fitness

15 December 2023

Brisk walking is a great form of moderate aerobic exercise, but if it’s not for you, here are our top 10 activities that will also give your heart a work out.

1. Cycling

Whether you are cycling in a city, or grinding up countryside hills, you'll be reaping great cardio benefits. You could make it a day out and involve the whole family, or have more intense sessions on your own, in a spin class or out with a cycling club. Take a look at our article for more of the health benefits of cycling

2. Swimming

Swimming is the perfect physical activity for people of all ages and fitness levels. It’s an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health and has a low impact on the joints. This makes swimming the ideal exercise for people with physical issues or injuries, because it allows them to get the benefits of exercise in a supported environment.

3. Dancing

Dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise that helps build stamina, strength and muscle tone. It’s also fun! Examples of popular group dances are Zumba, salsa, hip-hop, ballroom and line dancing. Or why not put on your favourite tracks and have a boogie at home where anything goes!

>Find out more about the health benefits of dancing in our article.

4. Running

The physical health benefits of running include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, a decrease in body fat, improvement in lung capacity and increased flexibility. 

5. Pilates

Pilates is a good way to strengthen the body with emphasis on the core and helps you to relax. Pilates also helps focus on rebalancing the body and improving posture and general fitness and wellbeing. It is good for all ages and all levels of ability.

6. Squash

This very fast, stop-start game will give you a challenging aerobic workout. It's a great sport to do to increase your fitness and speed, as well as relieving stress.

7. Badmington

Another fast game that requires several different components of fitness: balance, flexibility, hand/eye co-ordination, endurance and speed.

8. Circuit training

The great thing around circuit training is you can tailor it to your level of ability, and target particular muscle groups or your whole body. It can be as short or as long as you have time for and it can count towards your recommended weekly strength sessions*, by using your bodyweight or adding weights.

Popular exercises include squats, burpees, lunges, press ups and mountain climbers.

* Physical activity guidelines for good health recommend that all adults should do strengthening activities that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least two days a week.

9. Yoga

Often associated with relaxation, yoga may not spring to mind for a cardio workout, but don’t be fooled, there are many types of yoga poses that will get your heart pumping.

>Read more about yoga, in our myth-busting yoga article

10. House and garden work

Some vigorous housework, like hoovering, sweeping and scrubbing will all help towards your goal of a healthy heart. For more information, read our article on the benefits of gardening 

No matter what age we are, it’s important for us to exercise regularly. In addition to strengthening exercises mentioned above, the NHS recommends that adults aged 19-64 should do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity.

Further reading

Health benefits of swimming - AXA Health

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