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15 Cardiovascular Endurance Exercises

15 Cardiovascular Endurance Exercises

Cardiovascular endurance is a fitness component that can offer certain benefits. What are some cardiovascular endurance exercises to do at home or in the gym?

Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.

Cardiovascular endurance is a fitness component that comes down to how long your cardiovascular system can sustain higher intensity movements.

Training cardiovascular endurance offers many health benefits like improving mood, making your immune system stronger, improving cognitive function, and a lot more.

Cardiovascular endurance itself can also be useful. It can help improve your athletic performance but tasks in your daily life also just become easier. Instead of being out of breath from walking the stairs, you will be ready for the next activity to do. Better cardiovascular endurance also reduces your risk of heart disease.

How to train cardiovascular endurance

Not all types of exercise are equally useful for training cardiovascular endurance. You will likely engage your cardiovascular system with a more balance-focused exercise like yoga but other workouts can offer more improvement for less time spent exercising.

Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. By doing workouts you can strengthen your cardiovascular system which in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements and build up from there.

If you are a more experienced exerciser you can do these cardiovascular endurance exercises at higher intensities to train it more. In any case the message is rather safe than sorry.

Cardiovascular endurance exercises at home

One of the benefits of exercises that focus on cardiovascular endurance is that there are a lot of workout options to do at or from home. Another benefit is that you can often do these without any expensive equipment.

Besides the exercise examples, you will also learn what equipment you need, some exercise-specific benefits, and things to keep in mind when considering whether the example cardiovascular endurance exercise is a good choice for you.


Running is one of the most popular cardiovascular endurance exercises out there. This exercise is also just an aspect of many sports. You don’t need a lot of equipment to run, once you have a good pair of running shoes you can get in a running workout.

Some of the benefits of running include: burning a lot of calories, strengthening your bones, improving your mood, and so on…

Keep in mind that running can be hard on body parts like knees and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. If you are in a situation like that some of the other exercise examples may be better to start with.

If you are in a position where you can focus on running more intense you can run at a higher speed, run longer distances, and run with external weights. These modifications do make the running workout harder on your body so make sure you do not overtrain.

Jumping rope

A cardiovascular endurance exercise example that many people forget is jumping rope. All you need to implement a rope jumping workout in your routine is a good jump rope, a generally inexpensive piece of equipment.

Some of the benefits of jumping rope include: burning a lot of calories, strengthening your bones, challenging your upper body, improving your coordination skills, and so on…

Just like running, jumping rope can be a hard exercise on your knees and back. If you are injury-sensitive other workout options may be better. Also make sure the length of your jump rope is suited for your height.

High knees

High knees are a type of exercise where you basically run in place while lifting your knees high with each step. One of the advantages of this exercise is that you don’t need any equipment.

Some other benefits of high knees include: being able to this exercise basically anywhere, improving your coordination, challenging your muscles, and so on…

The high knees exercise is another example that can be slightly rough on your knees and back.


Something as simple as walking can be a cardiovascular endurance exercise example. Walking can be especially great if you can only find small blocks of free time scattered throughout the day. You can measure your progress by tracking how many steps you take.

Some of the benefits of walking include: soft on knees and back, suited for busy schedules, you can do it anywhere, and so on…

Walking is an exercise with a relatively low injury risk because it is a low-impact low-intensity workout. The downside of that is that you train your cardiovascular system a lot less compared to running at a fast pace.

Cardiovascular endurance exercise examples in the gym

For some people, the cardiovascular endurance exercise examples at home don’t offer enough variety. In that case you can also choose to go to the gym where you will find many other cardiovascular endurance exercise options.

The elliptical trainer

The elliptical trainer is a cardio gym machine that has been rising in popularity. This machine may look a bit complicated at first but if you give it a try you will find out it is very beginner-friendly.

Some of the benefits of the elliptical trainer include: soft on your knees and back, engages your upper body muscles too, different resistance settings if you want to work your muscles more, burning a lot of calories, and so on…

While the elliptical trainer is generally easy to use, you do want to pay some attention to your posture when using it.


Another very popular cardiovascular endurance exercise is swimming. Especially for people who are very injury sensitive swimming can be a great workout option since the water carries a lot of your body weight. You do have to find a swimming pool or other body of water to be able to do this exercise.

Some benefits of swimming include: working out muscles over your entire body, burning a lot of calories, low injury-risk, can help you improve flexibility, and so on…

Make sure your swimming skill-level is up for the workout you plan to do. Having a lifeguard near you is also recommended.


The stairmaster is a gym machine that simulates the movement you would make when climbing an endless flight of stairs. This machine may not be the most popular in the gym but it can help you get in a good cardiovascular endurance workout.

Some benefits of the stairmaster include: being a low-impact workout, a very simple technique, helpful to work out certain leg muscles, and so on…

Climbing endless flights of stairs can be challenging for your knees. If you have a history of knee injuries other cardiovascular endurance exercises may be a better choice.


The rowing machine is a gym machine that simulates the movement of rowing a boat. This machine is a great way to train your cardiovascular system while at the same time working out muscles over your entire body.

Some benefits of rowing include: improving posture, being a low-impact workout, relatively simple technique, and so on…

To prevent lower-back injuries you want to play close attention to your posture when using a rowing machine.

Water aerobics

Water aerobics is another cardiovascular endurance exercise example in the swimming pool. Some people think this workout is only suited for elderly people, but individuals of any age can benefit from doing water aerobics.

Some benefits of water aerobics include: improving flexibility, low injury risk, working out muscles over your entire body, improving coordination, and so on…

Water aerobics is generally a very safe workout, especially if you do it in shallow water.

Stationary bike

The stationary bike is a classic example of a gym machine. This machine allows you to cycle in place without having to risk any traffic accidents.

Some benefits of a stationary bike include: being a low-impact workout, safer than cycling outdoors, requiring a relatively simple technique, improving balance, and so on…

In some cases riding a stationary bike can lead to knee and lower-back pain. You can avoid this by riding at a low resistance and paying attention to your posture.

Cardiovascular endurance sport examples

Some people find the previous cardiovascular endurance exercise examples not entertaining enough. For people like this, some of the following cardiovascular endurance sports examples may be what they are looking for.


Tennis is a popular type of recreation and sport where you hit a yellow ball over the net at your opponent with the goal of scoring more points. Most people do not even look at tennis as a cardiovascular endurance exercise but it does offer you the opportunity to move more and its related health advantages.

Some of the benefits of tennis include: improving coordination, improving your mood, improving cognitive function, and so on,…

Keep in mind that tennis can lead to injuries like a tennis elbow. If you start feeling any pain in that area this may be a sign you need to give yourself some rest or temporarily switch to other exercises.


While boxing competitively is done between two people, you don’t have to fight someone else to get in a boxing workout. There are classes where you box a punching bag instead.

Some of the benefits of boxing include: improving strength, improving your self-defense skills, improving coordination, and so on…

Person-to-person boxing can cause a lot of physical injuries and potential long-term mental damage like cognitive decline. If you plan to do boxing for its health benefits you may want to stick to training with a punching bag.


Zumba is a type of dancing workout that combines moves from different dancing styles with the goal of enabling people to get a fun workout. This makes zumba a great cardiovascular endurance exercise.

Some benefits of zumba include: improves coordination, may reduce pain, improves bone density, and so on…

Certain zumba moves may be challenging for body parts like knees, ankles, and back. If you are injury sensitive you may want to skip certain moves.

Roller skating

Roller skating is the activity where you wear shoes with 4 wheels and make yourself roll forward. You can do this roller skate both on a specific indoor track or on flat surfaces like a street. To do this exercise you will have to invest in or borrow a pair of roller skates.

Some benefits of roller skating include: Improving your balance skills, being a low-impact workout, improving mood, and so on…

Keep in mind that roller skating can have a steep learning curve with plenty of falling. It may take a while before you get to a level where you can take full advantage of the health benefits of roller skating. If you are very injury sensitive you also may want to stay away from roller skating or at least wear protective gear.


Basketball is the popular type of recreation where you try to throw the ball into the net of your opponent. This is another cardiovascular endurance exercise example that many people don’t even consider a workout since it is so fun.

Some benefits of basketball include: engaging your arm muscles, improving coordination, being a budget-friendly workout, and so on…

You do have to keep in mind that the jumping and fast running while playing basketball can be rough on knees and back. A good pair of shoes can help relieve some of the pressure.

How much cardiovascular endurance exercise should you do?

At the time of writing the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends the following exercise guidelines to adults (6):

  • Moving more and sitting less throughout the day
  • At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Preferably spread throughout the week.
  • You can gain additional health benefits by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

These cardiovascular endurance exercise examples are great but don’t forget the other types of exercise to improve your health.