Outdoor Cardio Ideas

We spend hours upon hours in the gym. Switching it up by going outside keeps things interesting and fresh. Outdoor workouts challenge you with hills and obstacles, plus you get your fix of Vitamin D from the sunshine. We’re stuck inside all winter long – you might as well enjoy the warm weather while you can!

Running Stairs

An old-school favorite, running stairs are a calorie blaster that works the glutes and quads in addition to getting your heart rate up. Since you’re moving vertically, you’re putting more strain on your lower body. You burn twice as much fat running stairs as you do running.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stand-up paddle boarding uses your whole body to balance on the longboard and your upper body to steer and move. It’s a unique way to get out on the water and still use your entire body for cardio. Since it is done in flat water, its less intimidating than surfing and although it can be difficult to learn at first, it’s easy enough for beginners to pick up consistently.

Uphill Sprints

A fat burning monster, uphill sprinters are the meaner older brother of classic interval sprints. You can vary intensity and endurance by working with short, steep hills or longer, lower grade hills. Sprint up, walk down, repeat.


Swimming can be an intense full body workout when worked properly. It can be done in a lake or pool, working up from 15-minute sessions. Split your swims between different strokes to work all the muscles in your body while working your cardiovascular system.

Beach Runs

Beach runs place a greater strain on your muscles, which have to work harder to find a good grip and balance in the sand. Start slow and work on form and movement until your body adjust to the harder environment.


Hiking is an excellent way to up the burn from flat walks. The changing terrain and longer distance will work your endurance, while hills and valleys work your legs and lungs. Hiking is a great option for low intensity steady state cardio if you want to take a break from high intensity workouts.


Rowing is a great cardio option that doesn’t rely on the legs. Since the majority of your work in this activity comes from your upper body, it’s good for after a heavy leg day. Plus, rowing teams are often fantastic community builders.


Biking is a way to take your cardio all over the area and even the country. Distance cycling strengthens your heart and lungs by improving blood and oxygen flow. It’s low impact, making it a softer option for joints than running or jumping.   

Heather Rider
Writer at STSFit | + posts

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