There's nothing quite like it. The sweat pouring down your face, the intense pounding with every step, and that unbeatable feeling of euphoria when you finish your final lap. There's a reason they call it a "runners high." Running is thrilling, cheap (well, free actually), efficient and accessible to most people, whether you have a gym or not. But it's not all good. In fact, a big percentage of the population would rather do most things before they take a lap. And don't even get me started on what it does to your knees and the rest of your body over time.
Research from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that the body actually produces higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone that can cause weight gain) and lower levels of testosterone, which in turn leads the body to burn muscle. What's more, The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that those who run in excess of 4 hours per week actually have the same risk of death as their completely sedentary counterparts.
But running isn't all bad. The pro-running camp includes studies demonstrating that moderate running (a 10-minute mile or slower) isn't as bad for your joints as we once thought and can reduce your risk of death (good news?!). However, the research seems to suggest running can do more harm than good. So it might be time to look into fun alternatives that torche calories just as efficiently—and do the rest of the body good too.
You read that correctly. Jumping up and down on a trampoline is excellent cardio. It's much gentler on the joints (40 percent lower impact) than running and provides great support to your lymphatic system, which boosts your immunity. It also encourages a strong core and improves balance. Plus it will make you feel like a kid all over again. Sign me up!
If efficiency is the name of the game, then HIIT is the way to go. These dynamic workouts will give you a full-body makeover and have your heart pumping in no time at all. No time to take a class? Even 10 minutes of jumping jacks, squats, butt-kickers and push-ups will change your body and get your blood pumping. One of my favorites is the 7-Minute Scientific Workout.
Most people think rowing requires a strong upper body, but it's actually a killer leg workout that will get your heart rate up fast. And when set to the right playlist, can be a real blast. Plus, it's the perfect buddy workout.
Whether it's indoors to some sweet beats, or out in the middle of nature, cycling is such a good full-body workout. Mixing it up to include sprints, climbs and jumps is a great way to bring your heart rate up and down and create a varied workout. Tired of your typical spin class? Check out innovative classes like AquaCycling, where—you guessed it—you spin in an indoor pool!
Nothing breaks a sweat or torches calories like a great night out dancing hard. It's no wonder that classes like Zumba and the Tracy Anderson Method have taken off. These dance-inspired workouts are seriously fun and get you in amazing shape. Not a fan of Zumba? No problem. Put together an awesome playlist and dance in your living room for 20 minutes.