Five Outdoor Cardio Workouts to Get You Outside and in Shape

Cardio exercises can sometimes get overlooked in favor of exercises that favor muscle building and toning. It’s certainly easy to get caught up in workouts that improve your appearance, but it’s what’s on the inside that matters the most. A strong heart is the foundation of strong health.

Focusing on your cardio health results in improved energy throughout the day, a better resting and active heart rate, and improved performance during any exercise or physical activity. Because of this, it’s always important to maintain a constant focus on your cardio health amidst other exercises meant to tone and sculpt.

One advantage that cardio exercises offer is the option to do many of them outside. If you get tired of being indoors all day, or even doing all of your working out indoors, outdoor cardio exercises provide you with the opportunity to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and get fit.

Running is probably the first outdoor exercise that comes to mind, but there are so many more you can do (including a few running variations.) Here are five of the best outdoor cardio exercises.


Bicycling is a highly beneficial outdoor cardio exercise that almost anyone can do. Whether you are on a casual stroll through the neighborhood, or navigating some rough singletrack terrain on a mountain bike, you are bound to get at least some measure of a decent cardio workout. Distance cycling can be an even more effective exercise.

Biking Cardio Workout

Whichever you choose, throwing in some biking or cycling in between your main workout days is an enjoyable way to work on your heart’s health. You may even pick up a new hobby in the process.


Swimming outdoors during the warmer months is an excellent way to change up your cardio routine. Swimming gives you the opportunity to exercise without any impact, which can be helpful if you are having joint pain or even issues with your legs and feet.

Swimming Cardio Workout

Swimming exercises also tend to work out most of your body, which can help with both toning and improving your breathing abilities. If you are near a lake, or have access to a pool through a neighborhood or friend, 45 minutes is all you need to get an effective cardio routine in.

Start off your swimming exercises by swimming continually for 10 minutes straight. Eventually, you’ll be able to increase your times anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes of continuous swimming.


Rollerblading is another low impact cardio exercise that can be done in a number of outdoor locations. Not only are you benefiting improving your cardio health, you are also working to strengthen your ankles and quads from the motions you go through while skating.

Outdoor Rollerblading Cardio Workout

While it may be fun to glide down streets and hills, skating your way up inclines or going against the wind can provide double the efficiency of your workout. Large spaces such as empty parking lots can serve as convenient spaces to do sprints back and forth as well.

As with running and cycling, start off with shorter distances and slowly work your way up as you become stronger, timing and measuring your progression.

Step Running

Running is by far the most popular outdoor cardio exercise. While running through your neighborhood or part of town can serve as an effective workout, finding some stairs or bleachers to run up and down is even more efficient.

Step Running On Stairs Workout

The added incline while running up stairs significantly increases your heart rate while also working your quads and glutes. Running back down utilizes different areas of your muscle groups for a full workout experience.

You’ll probably notice yourself getting winded twice as fast as you would when running on a flat surface. That’s good — that means your heart is working harder and getting stronger each time you do it. If you can’t find any long staircases near where you live, try using a local school stadium instead.

Canoeing and Rowing

Another strategic way to utilize bodies of water during warmer months is to get access to a canoe or rowboat. You’ll be doing plenty of work with your upper body, but the cardio benefits are substantial. If you spend a lot of time doing cardio workouts that involve your legs, rowing and canoeing offers a nice change of pace.

Canoeing Cardio Workout

Plenty of gyms have rowing machines, but nothing beats getting out and doing the real thing. Not only is the scenery better, but variables such as wind and waves can provide more resistance and a better workout.