What cardio exercise can I do at home?

I am a big believer in working out in the comfort of your own home. That is why all of my options below are equipment free. What does that mean?  You have no excuses for not doing them. You can either do them barefoot or with your running shoes on, whatever feels most comfortable for you.
Here are some great ones: 
1) Jumping jacks (you can do the legs only with your hands on your waist),
2) Imaginary jump rope
3) Stationery cross country skiing
4) Rickety table
5) Turkish get-ups
6) Heel kicks
7) Knee ups
8) Frankensteins 

When doing these all I want you to remember these 5 things. 
1) Use your knees and ankles as springs. Think floating, not pounding, so we strengthen your muscles, not irritate your joints. You can act like you are on a sheet of glass and don't want to break it. 
2) Don't shrug your shoulders, relax them away from your ears.
3) Keep your stomach taut, chest lifted and an imaginary string pulling from the top of your head.
4) Keep your face tension free.
5) Don't hold your breath, if you catch yourself try to count out loud.

Please check out my cardio workout on my profile page to view a free cardio video! (click on my picture on the left)
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Any that will raise your heart rate to 80% of your age adjusted max without destroying your home. Chasing your spouse around the table is great exercise, as is anything that raises your heart rate. We have a set of exercises that Dr. Oz and I did with Joel Harper for “You: On a Diet,” that allows you to put a disc in your TV or computer and gets both cardio and resistance exercise. There are many that you can find on the website done by the Nike Elite trainers.

When doing cardio at home all you have to do is be creative. Remember, you don’t need to do all of your cardio at once. You can split it up and do it whenever you have just a few minutes. It is best to do total body circuits to really get your heart pumping and strengthen your entire body at once. Try doing 20 squats, 10 pushups (choose whatever type suits your level - wall, counter, knees on floor or regular position), 10 front or side lunges each leg and 20 speed steps on a stair (touching your toe to the stair and back down as fast as you can while alternating legs). Not only are circuits like this fun and easy, but also a great way to get your cardio in at home. 

Creativity and heart rate are key to successful home exercise. If you have a staircase, climb it! Have a backyard? Use it! Peform a circuit of nothing but body weight exercises. Start with keeping you heart rate up for 10-20 minutes and then slowly progress as it gets easier by either adding time, intensity, or resistance. Most important of all - have fun with it, so you stick to it.

I believe people participate in the most effective cardio exercises in or around their own homes. Being able to workout at home will also help you stick to your program as you can exercise any time of day based on your schedule and you will not have the hassle of traveling to and from the gym.

Some examples cardio exercises you can do at home include:

  • Jumping Rope
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Climbing Stairs
  • Burpees
  • Jogging in place
  • Dancing to music of your choice (and in your own home you never have to worry about looking silly!)
  • Circuit training (body weight resistance exercises following by cardio blasts such as climbing starts and then continuing with more body weight resistance)
  • Walking around your neighborhood

Be creative and find activities you enjoy. As long as your heart rate is elevated, you are on the right track.


Creativity is the best investment you need for a successful home cardio program. It is not necessary to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on one dimensional, boring, home cardio equipment. Those of you who hang your laundry to dry on your treadmill know what I mean.

Let's face it, unless you are an avid runner, a treadmill can get a little boring after a while. And once you get bored with an exercise, you are less likely to stick with it so please consider the following home cardio ideas. As always please consult your doctor before starting any cardio program to make sure your body is ready for exercise.

1. Have stairs in your home or apartment building? Start climbing! My townhouse has 2 flights of 15 stairs. When I work from home, I run up and down them 10 times every 60 minutes. Sounds crazy but it works, just make sure you start smart and do what is appropriate for your level of fitness.

2. Jump rope is a great and inexpensive way to do interval training at home and on average can burn 11-20 calories a minute. Depending on your height, weight and lean mass you can burn even more calories per minute. All you need is some space in a room with a high enough ceiling or even better a backyard deck or porch. If you are newto jump rope, start small, maybe 10 seconds on and 10 seconds off till for 10 minutes till you get more acclimated to jumping rope.

3. Try some H.I.I.T training (High Intensity Interval Training) to stimulate fat loss, muscle gains, and cardio respiratory fitness. Cardio is not just running, walking or jump rope. It can be weight bearing exercises with calisthenics immediately following. Example: 30 seconds of squats into 30 second of jumping jacks.

4. Walking your dog is great cardio, chasing your dog is even better. Don't have a dog? Adopt one! Not only will you get your cardio, you will also get a "training partner" who will never be late.

These are just four examples of how home cardio training can be safe, effective and fun.


All you need is good imagination. There are countless exercises you can do at home that only require a little motivation. I've listed a few for your review... remember if it gets your heart rate elevated for sustained period, it counts as cardio exercise.

Take a walk - can be up and down the driveway, around the block or around the room. Key is to keep moving, if you need more intensity walk up and down stairs or find a hill in your neighborhood.
Housework - Next time you pull out the vacuum or the broom, challenge yourself to get everything done in half the time it normally takes. Guarantee that will get you going.

Commercial Breaks - One of my favorites, during the commercial breaks for your favorite TV show, get up and move...could be pushups, planks, crunches, body weight squats or just walking around the house. Make it a family challenge if need be to keep the team motivated.

Dance - like nobody is watching you. Crank up the tunes and just move!

The real answer is you don't need an expert to tell you how to get moving, just find something that works for you and run with it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.