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3 Cardio-Intensive Sports to Enjoy in the Great Outdoors

You’ve been working hard to get in shape and be as healthy as possible. You know about the cardiovascular benefits of a high-intensity workout; and you know that when they’re done right, cardio-intensive workouts can burn fat and actually increase metabolism rates.

You’ve taken advantage of the fat-burning benefits of cardio-workouts by carb-loading and, most recently, adding one of the best pre workouts on the market to get you past a weight loss plateau. You’re seeing success, but even with that success and alternating workouts, you’re getting bored.

You’re tired of pounding the treadmill to old episodes of Friends. You’re tired of working out to Shaun T. You’re tired of spinning to your favorite Oldies radio station. You’re tired of doing your cardio workouts inside while everyone else is outside enjoying the amazing weather and the beautiful outdoors.

So why don’t you add some pizzazz into your life? There’s no need to stay inside any longer. You can still get solid cardio-intensive workouts outside. How about trying one of these cardio-intensive sports while enjoying the sunshine:


Soccer is a perfect cardio-intensive sport because it requires almost constant movement while traveling up and down the field (covering up to seven miles each game). The quick stops, the turnarounds, and the alternating between jogging and sprinting are similar to high-intensity interval training. Players go forward and backward and sideways and may actually change directions nearly a thousand times per game.

Not only is soccer a high-intensity sport, it is also a very social sport. No more time exercising with Shaun T. when you can get in your cardio workout, spend time with friends, and breathe in the fresh smells of nature instead of your musty basement all at the same time..


Instead of spending time on a treadmill, spend your time running through the streets of your community, soaking up the sun, and revving up your metabolism with some high-intensity interval training. Run at a regular aerobic pace, then speed up to a pace that pushes you to the point of huffing and puffing. Run at this pace for a minute or two (increase interval times as you improve), then slow down to a recovery jog for a few minutes before starting all over. You should do these interval sets at least four times for best results.

If you’re lucky enough to have beautiful trails nearby (especially mountain trails), take yourself, with your running shoes, and try a little trail running. Running up and down the hills and steep mountain trails, along with the unevenness of the terrain, provides amazing cardio-intensive workouts. Runners burn an average of 12% more calories on trail runs over running on the road for the same amount of time, at the same intensity.


Just like running, cycling can be turned into a cardio-intensive sport through a little high-intensity interval training. To warm up, cyclists should spend three minutes riding at an easy pace, followed by a minute of fast pedaling, then a minute back at the easy pace, then another minute of fast pedaling, followed by two more minutes at an easy pace.

This warm up and the entire 30-minute interval cycling workout were created by cycling expert Jim Rutberg; the workout includes six 30-second speed intervals where you increase your pace for 30 seconds and then slow your pedaling for 30 seconds. (You don’t need to “sprint,” just accelerate.) These speed intervals are followed by three and a half minutes of recovery, and then an eight minute interval where your pedaling should keep your breathing deep and controlled. Finally, there is a five minute cool down at an easy pace.

If riding the roads isn’t your thing, and you have mountains nearby, try your hand at mountain biking. Just like trail running, mountain biking is inherently tough with the rougher terrain and steep trails with lots of and ups and downs, giving you an excellent cardio workout to get you burning more calories faster.

There’s seriously no need to be bored with your workouts anymore. Pick up a soccer ball or your running shoes and head outside. Or pull your bike out of the garage, dust it off, and take a spin around your community or head to the closest mountain trails. Stick with your diet and pre workout supplements, play some competitive soccer, and follow the high-intensity interval training guidelines for running and cycling and you’ll be getting solid cardio-intensive workouts--all while enjoying the great outdoors and watching that weight fall off, your health improve, and your happiness level skyrocket.

About The Author

stash member Vincent Stokes

Vincent Stokes is an outdoor enthusiast and an experienced world traveler. He also writes writes for the National Parks and works to promote pride in homegrown travel destinations. (@TravelingGlobal)