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5 Best Cardio Workouts for Beginners

Best Cardio for Beginners


Are you ready to kickstart an exciting journey to enhance your health and well-being? Cardiovascular exercise, or cardio, can accompany you every step of the way! Whether you're a fitness novice or simply seeking a fresh start, incorporating a few of the best cardio workouts into your routine can work wonders for your body and mind.

Get ready to explore the five best cardio exercises and workouts for beginners. From gentle walks to lively dance sessions and exhilarating cycling adventures, we've got you covered. Each activity is designed to suit your fitness level and ignite your enthusiasm, ensuring that you enjoy every moment of your cardio experience.

Lace up your sneakers, find your rhythm, and embark on an exhilarating cardio journey for yourself. Remember, every small step you take brings you closer to a healthier, happier you. So, get ready to sweat, smile, and soar to new heights with the power of cardio!

This article will dive headfirst into the vibrant world of cardio workouts, focusing on beginners like you. Taking those initial steps can feel daunting, but fear not! We're here to guide and empower you as you kickstart your cardio fitness routine.

Ready to get into the gym and get started? Find a Planet Fitness location near you today!

Benefits of Cardio for Beginners

Let’s jump into cardio's physical and mental benefits and why it’s an excellent choice for beginners starting their fitness journey.

Physical Benefits

Improved Cardiovascular Health: Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and improve circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Regular cardio workouts enhance the efficiency of your cardiovascular system, enabling it to supply oxygen and nutrients to your muscles more effectively.

Energy Boost: Cardio is an excellent tool for boosting energy. Activities like brisk walking, cycling, or dancing can help boost your energy and contribute to improved moods.

Increased Endurance and Stamina: As a beginner, cardio workouts gradually build your endurance and stamina. Over time, you'll be able to sustain physical activity for longer durations without feeling tired.

Strengthened Immune System: Regular cardio exercise also boosts the immune system, reducing the risk of common illnesses and improving overall health and well-being.

Mental Benefits

Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Cardio workouts release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals. Regular exercise also helps alleviate stress and anxiety, promoting better mental health. 

Enhanced Mood and Mental Clarity: Cardiovascular exercise stimulates the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which contribute to improved mood, mental clarity, and overall cognitive function. That’s right—working out makes you happy!

Better Sleep Quality: Regular cardio workouts can improve sleep quality and duration, aiding in better rest and rejuvenation.

Boosted Self-Confidence: As you progress in your cardio journey, achieving your fitness goals can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem. You got this!

Cardio Exercises for Beginners

When it comes to cardio for beginners, it's important to choose exercises that are accessible, enjoyable, and suitable for your fitness level. Luckily, our favorite workouts don’t require any equipment or a gym membership. Getting started is simple and free!

Without further ado, here are our five favorite cardio exercises for beginners:

 1. Walking

Walking is a fantastic, low-impact cardio exercise that’s perfect for beginners of all ages and fitness levels. It requires no special equipment and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. The benefits of walking include improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced joint stress, and enhanced mental well-being. 

We recommend starting with short walks and gradually increasing the duration and intensity. Many people find using a pedometer or fitness tracker helpful to monitor progress and set achievable goals.

2. Cycling

Cycling is another excellent cardio exercise for beginners that can be done indoors and outdoors. It’s a low-impact activity that’s gentle on the joints and provides a low-impact workout suitable for individuals with joint issues or injuries.

Cycling strengthens the heart and lungs, and our favorite part of this accessible cardio exercise? The versatility and convenience.  Whether you choose a stationary bike or venture outdoors, cycling can easily adapt to your preferences and schedule.

When incorporating cycling into your fitness routine, start with shorter rides and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Also, ensure proper bike fit and adjust the seat height for optimal comfort and safety. And, of course, always wear a helmet and follow traffic rules if cycling outdoors.

3. Dancing

Dancing is a fun and enjoyable cardio option that allows you to express yourself while burning calories. Whether you prefer salsa or hip-hop, dancing offers a wide range of styles to explore. The additional benefits of dancing include enhanced coordination and increased flexibility. 

You can start with simpler and slower-paced dances by choosing beginner-friendly dance classes or finding a fun online tutorial until you gain confidence and stamina. Then, gradually progress to more energetic—and energy-boosting—routines. When in doubt, put on your favorite song and dance around your living room to get your body moving and heart pumping!

4. Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises provide a convenient way to incorporate cardio into your workouts. These exercises use your body weight as resistance, improving strength and endurance. The best part? Since there’s no extra equipment needed, you can take on these exercises anywhere. From the beach to your backyard, bodyweight exercises make for a great workout!

Here's a sample bodyweight circuit for beginners:

  • Jumping jacks: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Bodyweight squats: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Mountain climbers: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
  • Burpees: 3 sets of 5 repetitions

5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is a time-efficient and intense cardio workout that alternates between high-intensity exercise bursts and short recovery periods. HIIT workouts can be tailored to suit beginners and provide excellent cardiovascular benefits. Here's a simple HIIT workout to get started:

  • Warm-up: 5 minutes of light cardio, such as jogging in place or jumping jacks.
  • High-Intensity Exercise: 30 seconds of burpees.
  • Recovery: 30 seconds of walking or slow jogging. Repeat the high-intensity and recovery intervals for 5-10 rounds, alternating high-intensity bodyweight exercises.
  • Cool Down: 5 minutes of stretching exercises.

Getting Started with Cardio Workouts

To make the most of your cardio workouts as a beginner, establish a routine, understand the frequency and duration of your activities, and prepare appropriately. 

Planet Fitness recommends the following tips:

Setting a Routine and Establishing Consistency: Create a weekly schedule with dedicated time for cardio workouts. Consistency is key to achieving long-term fitness goals.

Understanding Frequency and Duration of Workouts: The American Heart Association recommends adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio exercise per week, spread across several sessions. But no need to start this right out of the gate! Starting gradually and increasing the duration and intensity as your fitness improves is a tried and true method to success.

Tracking Progress and Making Adjustments: Keep a workout journal or use a fitness tracking app to record your progress. Monitor your improvements and celebrate your wins. Adjust your workout routine as necessary to continue challenging yourself.

Preparing for a Cardio Workout: Before each cardio workout, remember to:

  • Warm-Up: Perform dynamic stretches or light cardio exercises to wake up and warm up your muscles.
  • Cool Down: After your workout, engage in static stretching to cool down and improve flexibility.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your workout. Fuel your body with a balanced diet to support your energy needs.

Motivation and Tips for Cardio Success

Staying motivated is essential for long-term cardio success. To increase the likelihood you'll succeed with regular cardio exercise, you'll need to: 

  • Find Motivation: Identify your personal reasons for engaging in cardio workouts, such as improving overall health or increasing energy levels. Additionally, keep yourself pumped up by setting achievable goals and rewarding yourself for reaching milestones.
  • Overcome Common Challenges and Roadblocks: Recognize and address common challenges like lack of time, fatigue, or self-doubt. If needed, break down your workouts into smaller sessions, and seek support from friends, family, or fitness communities.
  • Incorporate Variety and Fun into Cardio Workouts: Avoid monotony by incorporating various cardio exercises into your routine. Try new activities, join group classes, or listen to energizing music to keep your workouts enjoyable and exciting.
  • Partner Up or Join a Fitness Community for Support: Consider working out with a friend or joining fitness communities for accountability and support. Sharing your fitness journey with others can enhance motivation and provide valuable encouragement.

Now that you know the significant physical and mental benefits of incorporating beginner cardio workouts into your fitness routine, choose suitable cardio exercises like our favorites above. You can embark on a fulfilling cardio journey that contributes to your overall well-being. Get started with free workouts from top trainers on the PF App.