12 Of The Best Cheap Cardio Equipment Ideas

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Cardiovascular health is important no matter what budget you are on. What are some cheap cardio exercise equipment options if you want something affordable?

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

When doing certain types of training you engage this system more than usual which can strengthen it if you don’t overdo it and give your body enough rest afterward.

When talking about cardio equipment you may imagine big and expensive stairmasters, elliptical machines, and rowing machines.

However, there are also affordable equipment options that allow you to get in a good cardio workout. Of course, some are better than others.

Something “cheap” does not mean the same for everyone. In any case, this list starts with some of the cheapest cardio equipment options and gradually goes to somewhat pricier options.

1. Jump rope

A jump rope is simply a rope that can be used to jump over at a fast pace. This is basically the most affordable yet effective piece of cardio equipment you can get.

Jumping rope is a great way to train your cardiovascular health at home, outside, or in the gym. It also requires basically no storage space and you can bring it with you wherever you go.

One thing to keep in mind is that jumping rope can be relatively rough on body parts like knees and back, especially if you have a lot of pounds to lose. As long as you don’t overdo it this can lead to stronger bones but your injury risk does become higher.

Something else to remember is that to use a jump rope to its full extent your ceiling needs to be high enough and you also need a good amount of space around you.

Check jump rope prices

2. Walking or running shoes

Bigger cardio machines can definitely be a great addition to a good workout plan but you also shouldn’t forget the simple cardio options. Going for a walk or run outside can offer a great cardio session too.

To do both of these outside cardio workouts you preferably have good walking or running shoes to protect your feet, knees, hips, and lower back.

Luckily these shoes are relatively cheap, especially if you compare them to the powerful cardio workouts they allow you to do.

Extra sunlight, even if the sun is not shining brightly, also generally benefits things like sleep and health more than artificial light which you often have to use for many other options. Depending on where you live, going outside can also offer a fresh breath of air.

One downside of this affordable cardio equipment option is that you are more dependent on the weather.

You can walk or run in the rain but this is less comfortable than working out indoors. You also need enough room outside to go for a comfortable walk or run.

Something else to remember is that running can also be slightly harder on your knees and lower back. This can lead to more bone-strengthening but involves a higher injury risk as well.

Check running shoe prices

3. Step aerobics stepper

Step aerobics is a type of workout where you do sequences of steps with extra movement on and off a raised platform named a stepper, usually with music in the background. Many people consider this exercise as a fun way to get in some extra movement.

On top of likely being fun, step aerobics is also relatively cheap to get started with. A stepper generally does not cost much and there are plenty of free step aerobics videos on the internet.

Step aerobics offers you a variety of benefits like burning a lot of calories, training your leg muscles, improving balance and coordination, improving cardiovascular health, etc.

Check step aerobics equipment prices

4. Under desk pedaler

Pedal exercisers for under your desk are exactly what they sound like. Two pedals with resistance that you can “cycle” while sitting in front of your desk, on the couch watching television, or in any similar place.

A good pedal exerciser is compact to use, silent, and easy to store.

This piece of cardio exercise equipment is not an option in the sense that it can replace an intense cardio workout. Under desk pedalers will just not offer the same benefits as a jump rope or running session.

Instead, it is a way to slowly but surely get your heart beating a little faster throughout the day or when doing activities like watching tv.

An upside is that you can combine this piece of equipment with your daily tasks if you sit down a lot.

Under desk pedalers are still relatively cheap but the list is getting to a point where simply skipping a few expensive coffees is not enough anymore to afford the piece of equipment.

Check under desk pedal exerciser prices

5. Mini stepper

Mini steppers are a device with two pedals that go down slowly if you put pressure on them. This enables a movement session that would be similar to climbing stairs with low steps.

The mini stepper is again a lower-intensity cardio equipment option. For serious cardio exercise benefits, some of the other options on this list are likely better.

Even in a list like apartment cardio equipment options, mini steppers stand out for their compactness, easy storage, and silent usage.

In addition to that, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use while doing other activities like talking to friends or family or watching tv.

One downside or potential downside of mini steppers is that they can be more challenging when it comes to balance. The pedals are on the small side so you want to put your feet on them exactly right and not swing back, forth, and sideways too much.

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6. Mini trampoline

Mini trampolines are not the most popular but they can definitely allow you to get in a good workout at an affordable price.

To challenge your cardiovascular system the most you just want to jump on it, for example in a steady-state cardio way or as another example in high-intensity interval training style.

There are mini trampoline models that allow you to fold the equipment. This makes it more convenient for storing in a small apartment.

In general, using a mini trampoline is also not that noisy since the springs catch all the tension, not the floor. Mini trampolines are also still very average in price.

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7. Boxing bag

While martial arts like boxing competitively are generally done between two people, you don’t have to fight someone else to get in a boxing workout. You can do a boxing exercise session with a punching bag too.

Workouts like this can definitely help you improve your cardiovascular health, burn calories, improve coordination, engage muscles, help you lose weight, etc.

A more specific benefit of a punching bag as a piece of workout equipment is that many people enjoy using it.

If you are on a very tight budget you likely want to stick some of the smaller, possibly wall-mounted punching bags.

Bigger punching bags require more room and a bigger investment. At the same time, you can do more intense cardio workouts with this type of equipment.

Check small space punching bag prices

8. Vertical climber

At this point in the list, the price points of the equipment options start to leave the range a decent amount of people call cheap. However, compared to stairmasters of thousands of dollars these are still a reasonable way to get in a cardio workout.

Gym machines often try to simulate some real-life activity and the vertical climber is no different. Using this machine is similar to climbing an endless ladder.

The vertical climber is slightly more focused on engaging your muscles but it definitely also offers you the option to strengthen your cardiovascular system. Additionally, this cardio machine will definitely challenge your coordination and balance.

This can be a downside too. If you struggle with balance and coordination, there are safer equipment options to get in a good cardio workout.

Besides that, remember that you will need a somewhat high ceiling to use and store a vertical climber.

Check vertical climber prices

9. Elliptical machine

The elliptical machine is a relatively popular cardio gym machine. It looks, and most of the standard models are, a bit expensive but there are also a few cheaper versions of this cardio machine.

These will likely not be as smooth to use or offer the same measurements but they can allow you to train your cardiovascular health a nice amount.

Something more unique when it comes to cardio equipment is that the elliptical machine engages both your upper and lower body muscles.

Muscles like your glutes (butt) will also be able to go through a relatively big range of motion. You can also turn up the resistance to increase your chances of building some muscle during your cardio workout.

Another benefit, especially for a small apartment with thin walls, is that using an elliptical machine is relatively quiet.

Check elliptical machine prices

10. Stationary bike

The stationary bike is a very popular piece of cardio exercise equipment both to get at home or in the gym. To do your cardio workout you simply take place on the bike and start pedaling.

A more unique benefit of the stationary bike is that it is a cardio exercise equipment option where you do not need to use that much balance. If this is a concern to you, a stationary bike may be a good choice.

You can also easily do other activities like talking to family friends and watching tv while using a stationary bike.

A potential downside of many types of stationary bikes is that if you like to engage a variety of muscles during your cardio workout, this option is rather lacking. You won’t engage your upper body and your legs do not go through a full range of motion.

Similar to the elliptical machine you have a wide range of price tags when it comes to stationary bikes. The cheaper ones will have fewer features and potentially feel less smooth, but you should be able to do good cardio workouts on them.

Check stationary bike prices

11. Treadmill

A treadmill is one of the most popular gym machines there is. It simulates an endless flat surface to walk or run on. Walking or running outside will be more affordable but this is not always an option or something you prefer.

Keep in mind that you will also need good walking or running shoes to use a treadmill to its full extent.

One potential downside of something like running on the treadmill is that it is a lot harder on your knees. In turn, this can lead to more bone-strengthening as long as you don’t have to stop exercising due to injuries.

Besides that, if you are interested in strengthening upper body muscles, the treadmill is likely not what you are looking for. In addition, using a treadmill can be a bit noisy. Any neighbors or family members may not enjoy that.

Remember that the more affordable treadmills are generally less sturdy and have a lower weight capacity. Even if some models have a higher price tag they may still be the best choice.

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12. Rowing machine

A rowing machine is a gym machine that simulates the movement of rowing a boat. This machine is a great cardio exercise equipment option if you are interested in a bit more upper body muscle focus while still training your cardiovascular health.

Similar to many of the other options on this list rowing can help you burn a lot of calories, strengthen your muscles, improve cardiovascular health, etc. All in the comfort of your own home or in the gym.

If you turn up the resistance, a rowing machine can also help you engage your back and bicep muscles a nice amount. Resistance training beginners may even be able to build some amount of muscle this way.

There are also potential downsides to a rowing machine. First of all, a rowing machine requires a bit more storage space compared to many of the other options on this list.

Using a rowing machine can also be a bit noisy depending on what model you use. Lastly, not that many people will consider the price tag of most rowing machines cheap.

Check rowing machine prices

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.