Engaging in regular cardiovascular activities offers a number of health-related benefits. For instance, it helps you control your weight, which ultimately lowers your risk of a variety of potentially life-threatening conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. And if you have a chronic physical condition, cardio can sometimes ease or at least manage the symptoms, providing you with some much needed relief.

Physical exercise also boosts your immune system, making it easier to fight off the bugs that often make their way around. It strengthens your heart and reduces the plaque buildup in your arteries, boosting your mood at the same time. Perhaps the greatest health benefit is that regular cardio can help you live longer, improving your quality of life during your later years so that you have more independence and find everyday activities easier to do.

What types of cardio fitness activities promote good health and offer these types of life-enhancing benefits? Here are a few of the best options to consider:

  • Walking, jogging, or running (on a treadmill or outdoors)
  • Elliptical
  • Hiking or rock climbing
  • Climbing stairs or using a stair stepper
  • Swimming or wakeboarding
  • Cycling (via stationary bike or outdoors) or spinning
  • Interval training
  • Rowing (indoors or out) or paddling a canoe
  • Skiing (on snow or water)
  • Playing sports like tennis, soccer, or football
  • Kickboxing, martial arts, or self-defense classes
  • CrossFit
  • Dance (jazz, modern, hip hop, classical, ballet, etc.)

The list goes on and on, but just make sure you pick things that you enjoy doing so that your workout time is something that you look forward to versus being something that you dread. Also, commit to doing something physical for 30 minutes most days of the week and you will get these types of health benefits as a result.

What cardiovascular activities do you enjoy? Are there any not on this list that you’d like to share with other readers? Feel free to comment below!