7 Different Aerobic Exercises You Could Start On Right Away!


Aerobic exercise is good for your overall physical fitness and mental health but knowing where to start can sometimes stump you. If you are keen to start on a regular aerobic regimen, we’ve got you covered! The 7 aerobic exercise forms that follow offer up both challenging options and others a novice can begin easily.

Aerobic Exercises Can Help With Weight Loss, Fitness, And Heart Health

Aerobic exercise is a good way to give your heart a workout even as you tone up the rest of your body.1 You stand to burn hundreds of calories per hour you work out, depending on what kind of aerobic exercise you pick and how intense it is. Health authorities like the World Health Organization as well as the American Heart Association recommend that adults get in around 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week.23 Picking aerobic exercises also offer up the following benefits:

  • About 3 to 4 sessions of 40 minutes of aerobic exercise done at moderate to vigorous intensity can help bring down your cholesterol levels or blood pressure and cut your risk of stroke and heart attacks.4
  • It can help manage diabetes, aging, and even pregnancy better.
  • If you get in regular sessions of aerobic exercise alongside a healthy diet, you should see weight loss results too.
  • Aerobic exercises can even help reduce depression and anxiety through better modulation of stress levels in your body.5

Here’s a roundup of some of the best, most popular, and most fun aerobic exercises you should consider. The calorie burn rates for 30 minutes of exercise are given under each exercise for a 125-pound adult at the lower end of the range and a 185-pound adult at the upper end of the range.

1. Walking

Arguably the most accessible and easy-to-do aerobic exercise is walking. It’s something we all do unconsciously every day – but don’t do enough of. Walking can help improve your blood circulation, lower your blood pressure, elevate heart rate, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve cardiovascular health. It may also reduce bone loss in those with osteoporosis. Plus, it helps improve your mood and emotional well-being by stimulating the release of natural pain­killing endorphins.6


Calories burned
Walking at 3.5 mph for 30 minutes, taking about 17 minutes to walk a mile, burns between 120 and 178 calories on average, depending on how much you weigh. If you manage to increase your pace to 4.5 mph (13 minutes per mile), you stand to burn 150 to 222 calories.7

Body parts it works out
Walking uses your abdominal muscles in addition to your leg muscles, helping tone them up. If you pump your arms as you walk, you can even work out your arms with this exercise.8


Who should try it and who should avoid it
Walking is good for anyone who wants a flexible exercise that can be done anywhere. It is also a good aerobic exercise for those already going to the gym to do weight or resistance training. It is lower impact than running and jogging, making it accessible to more people, including seniors.

Walking tips
Get a good pair of shoes to walk in and choose a safe walking route that is smooth-surfaced. If you are going off-road, avoid a route with loose rocks so you don’t trip and injure yourself. And, remember, never skip warm-up before you pick up pace gradually. And it’s just as important to stretch and cool down after. Make your walking more intense/faster as your cardiovascular fitness improves.9


2. Running And Jogging

These outdoor exercises (or indoors if you prefer a treadmill) can be done solo or as part of a runner’s group. The American Council on Exercise calls running one of the most time-efficient aerobic workouts.10 Running and jogging are good ways to fight obesity and lose weight. These can cut your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease as well.11 Jogging can even help improve your lipid profile according to studies.12

Calories burned
A combination of walking and jogging in a 30-minute window, with under 10 minutes in total spent jogging, burns 180 to 266 calories. This can be good for beginners to get a taste of jogging and its benefits.

  • Running or jogging at 5 mph (pace of 12-minute mile) can help you burn 240 to 355 calories in 30 minutes.
  • Running or jogging at 6 mph (10-minute mile) can burn 300 to 444 calories per half hour.
  • Picking up the pace to 7.5 mph (8-minute mile) burns 375 to 555 calories, running at 8.6 mph (7-minute mile) burns 435 to 644 calories, and going at 10 mph (6-minute mile) burns a whopping 495 to 733 calories per half hour.13

Body parts it works out
Running may seem like it only uses your legs, but you need to keep your arms engaged as well to drive your body forward. For a proper rhythm and posture while running, you must also keep your abdominal muscles or core engaged and build strong lower back muscles. This will allow you to stand tall and run with a longer stride.14

Who should try it and who should avoid it
Unlike walking which anyone can take up, jogging and running are better attempted by those who are in moderately good physical condition since these are more demanding on your stamina and fitness.


Because the stress on your joints is more than when you’re walking, anyone with knee problems may be better off sticking to walking or low impact exercises like swimming.
It is also better avoided by those who are obese or severely overweight as well as anyone with heart problems or orthopedic problems. Walking may offer a similar but less intense and safer experience for you if any of these apply.15

Running tips
All you need to get started is a good pair of running shoes that absorb the shock and impact as your feet hit the ground. Remember, this will be with a higher impact than when you simply walk. Running can injure your body if you don’t take care to warm up, wear the right shoes, or don’t pick your running terrain carefully. Pick up more tips here.


3. Swimming

Swimming is a delight in summer, cooling you off with a no-sweat aerobic workout. In winter, a heated indoor pool can help you keep up the exercise while warming up your body – who wouldn’t love a hot soak when it’s chilly outside?

Swimming helps boost your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. It is also great for toning up muscles and building endurance and strength. And, of course, as most swimmers will tell you, it helps improve and expand lung capacity too.16 It may even lower risk of developing chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Swimming can even boost your mood, leaving you feeling energized and less stressed.17

Calories burned
Swimming burns between 0.1 to 0.14 calories per minute for every 2 pounds of your body weight, making it comparable to cycling and running at a moderate pace.18

  • You stand to burn at least around 180 to 266 calories in half an hour with swimming.
  • Breaststroke or treading water can burn 300 to 444 calories in that time.
  • More intense and challenging strokes like the butterfly stroke or the crawl can burn 330 to 488 calories in a similar time.19

Body parts it works out
Swimming is a full body workout that uses most major muscle groups in the body, from your arms and shoulders to your chest, abdominal muscles, and legs.20

Who should try it and who should avoid it
Anyone looking for a low impact cardio exercise can benefit from swimming. It can amp up your heart rate and burn calories without loading stress on your joints – unlike aerobics on land.21

Swimming tips
If you’re not sure which stroke would suit you best, read up on the different swimming strokes and their benefits here. You can also make your swim session a social experience and have some fun by signing up for aqua aerobics or aqua Zumba.

4. Cycling

Biking or cycling is a competitive sport but can also be a refreshing way to get in an aerobic workout. It has the potential to protect you from strokes, heart attack, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and depression. It may even fight some cancers. Cycling improves muscle strength, helps cardiovascular fitness, strengthens your bones, lowers body fat, and also alleviates stress, anxiety, and depression.22

Calories burned

  • Cycling at 12 to 13.9 mph burns 240 to 355 calories per half hour.
  • A speed of 14 to 15.9 mph bumps that to 300 to 444 calories in the same duration, while going at 16 to 19 mph takes you to a calorie burn of 360 to 533 per half hour.
  • Mountain biking ups that to 255 to 377 calories.23

Body parts it works out
You use all major muscle groups when you cycle, making this a full body workout.24

Who should try it and who should avoid it
Cycling is a low impact exercise that doesn’t strain your body. From young children to seniors, anyone of any age can take it up. If you are recovering from some form of injury or illness or are not too physically fit, start off with a low-intensity ride that’s less challenging.25

Cycling tips
Get geared appropriately, wear sunscreen, and keep yourself hydrated while cycling. Don’t forget to warm up before you set out and carry a light snack if you are going long distance. Get more cycling tips here.

5. Indoor Rowing

Get a stationary rowing workout session on an indoor rowing machine at your local gym or fitness center. Regular rowing can help improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and your body composition and build muscle. These, in turn, can help prevent illness and boost overall fitness.26

Calories burned

  • Rowing for 30 minutes at moderate intensity burns 210 to 311 calories.
  • Raising rowing intensity to vigorous can increase calorie burn to 255 to 377 calories in the same amount of time.27

Body parts it works out
You will need to engage your upper back, shoulders, arms, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core when you do indoor rowing.28 In fact, rowing requires you to use pretty much all the muscles in your body, making it an efficient full body workout.

Who should try it and who should avoid it
If you have physical constraints that prevent you from going outdoors to exercise, indoor rowing can be a great alternative. Researchers have found it can even help the visually impaired workout indoors.29

Rowing, though a powerful calorie burner and a form of strength training, is not high impact and, therefore, won’t stress your joints. So it’s suitable for most people to try. Yet, it is also quite physically demanding if you push yourself. So start with short sessions.

Rowing tips
You can adjust the resistance setting on the machine (10 being the maximum) to control how intense the workout is.30 The machines can measure the power in each of your strokes, the time spent working out, the calories burned, and how many strokes you manage in a certain duration. You can use these statistics to track your progress over time.31 Beginners should take care to ensure their form is right – arms and wrists must be straight and aligned and spine straight while rowing.

6. Dancing

When it comes to fun, dancing is arguably the chart-topper among all aerobic exercises! Anyone looking at dancing to get fit is spoilt for choice today – take your pick from exotic options like Bollywood fitness dancing, belly dancing, Latin American dancing, Zumba, aerobic dance classes, and more.

Calories burned

  • Slow dances like the waltz or foxtrot use just about 90 to 133 calories per half hour. That’s a lot lower than the 165 to 244 calories you can expect from a similar session of disco dancing or square dancing.
  • Faster dances and the twist or ballet use 180 to 266 calories.32

Body parts it works out
Dancing improves your muscle tone, endurance, strength, and overall fitness.33 It uses every inch of your body from your head to your toes. Maintaining a strong dancing posture even engages your core and ensures your back and stomach are braced, your shoulders held back, and your chest up and out. As you dance, arm and leg movements will help you work up a sweat and burn off those calories.

Who should try it and who should avoid it
As instructors of dance-based workouts explain, a session isn’t a test of your dancing prowess – unless you’ve signed up for dance lessons as opposed to dance fitness lessons. Having two left feet won’t stop you from benefiting from the workout but it certainly makes life easier if you have a feel for music!

Either way, dive into it and don’t be afraid to look a little silly if you have to – it’s more important to achieve the stances and the moves the dance demands. If you have medical issues, are overweight, have not exercised in a very long time, or are over 40, do get a clean chit from your doctor before you begin dancing.34

Dancing tips
The calorie burn and intensity of workout vary greatly depending on the style of dance you choose. Take a cue from the kind of music used in the form – if it is slow and languid, you’re probably not burning too much. On the other hand, percussion-driven, fast-paced music gets your energy levels going. You’ll be moving quickly and burning more calories.

Wear the right shoes for dancing and find a good absorbent surface to dance on if the dancing involves jumps or leaps. Also remember to pick a style suited to your fitness levels. Don’t get too ambitious right at the start.

7. Jumping Rope

Here’s an old-fashioned workout that works just as well today! In a straightforward movement like the scissors/forward straddle, you’ll jump over the rope, land with the left foot forward and the right behind at a distance of about 8 to 12 inches and jump again, reversing feet this time.35 You could also mix things up and make it more fun with a rope jumping routine that changes pace and techniques. Include moves like heel-to-toe jumps or faster ones like the jogging step or jump rope with a partner.

Calories burned
You could burn anywhere from 300 to 444 calories per half hour of jumping rope.36

Body parts it works out
Full body workout again but it helps sculpt your upper body, shoulders, upper arms, and wrists.37 It could also increase bone density.38

Who should try it and who should avoid it
Anyone trying to work on their full body coordination should jump rope. It requires you to synchronize the movements of all your limbs so you don’t trip on the rope. It is for this reason that boxers favor rope jumping as part of their aerobic training.39

Rope jumping is fine for most people, but because it is higher impact especially if done on hard surfaces, it can put pressure on your joints. Anyone with knee problems may want to be careful about attempting this kind of exercise and opt for something lower impact like swimming. People with heart problems or who have back problems should also avoid it.

Skipping tips
Your skipping rope can’t be too long or short. To get the right length and prevent falling, fold the rope in half and hold the handles, with your arm straight out at chest level. Adjust length so the lower portion of the rope just grazes the floor. Wear trainers that can take the impact and get going!