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Cardio For People Who Hate Jogging

6 mins

Working from home has increased your productivity AND your alarming resemblance to a half-melted snowman. You could jog, but ... run aimlessly around outside without a destination and with nobody in pursuit? Yeah, you'll think about it. Here are a few low-impact work-from-home exercises that will keep your heart pumping and your mind clear.

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Working from home has turned you into Jabba the Hutt. Yesterday while answering the door, a button rocketed off your tormented shirt and nearly put the mailman’s eye out. Yeah, you’re sitting, sitting, sitting at a computer all day and eating like a senseless machine. 

The only exercise you get is a sort of slouching upright crawl as you drag your ass to the kitchen, dazedly survey your options for the umpteenth time that hour, grab something with your swollen mitt and carry it back to your desk.

This is no way to live, no way to be your most excellent self. Your corporate Vibe Coach® warned you this would happen. You have to get up and move! 

Now you're excited about your newfound commitment to running.

Your new era of motivated, life-changing self-care has made you emphatic; so much so that your internal comments are exclamatory.

Running has a lot going for it! Running offers true exercise freedom! Running seems almost too good to be true! And the timeless … You mean I just put on shoes, walk out the door, and run around a little? Count me in! 

Running is going to change everything—cardio on YOUR terms. Hoo yeah! Let’s do it!

Later That Same Week

Running seemed like such a good idea. You looked great in your jogging outfit, your shoes were very flash without being over the top, and the weather was perfect. The fragrant spring air was filled with birdsong and you felt unconquerably happy for the first time in months. Then you started running. 

What. The hell. Were You Thinking?  About a minute of pounding pointlessly down the sidewalk and you knew you’d make a terrible mistake. A TERRIBLE MISTAKE. I mean … running?!  What the hell am I running from? This is idiotic! 

…and so on. Welcome to the “I’ll Only Run When I’m Chased” club. Membership is growing exponentially. So how do we get some exercise in while working from home? Running is absolute misery, but you know you have to get movement back into your life.


Little Home Exercises that Offer Big Results

Here are some ways to exercise at home during the workday. These methodologies pointedly do not include running aimlessly down a city sidewalk without a destination and with nobody in pursuit.

These exercises and recommendations may seem awkward at first, but mastery of these simple forms will mean a growing mastery of your own health and self-maintenance, drawing you back on track for renewed physical energy and mental clarity.

Small but meaningful efforts, consistently employed, yield real results. Not to sound like an anal retentive life coach. 

Jumping Jacks

You’ve seen these in bad comedies about the middle-aged at fitness camps. But Jumping Jacks really do work to get you heart going with a minimum of impact and in a small amount of space. In a Jumping Jack, you’re in a standing position with arms at your sides.

You “jump” in place to a position with legs spread and arms raised, and then “jump” back to the original position. You run through the sequence at a comfortable cadence. Signs that you’re succeeding? You break a very fine, filmy sweat and your upstairs neighbor starts banging your ceiling with a broomstick.

Jumping Rope

More jumping. And as the name implies, a rope is involved. Find a spot away from your desk, and away from that fancy vase your grandmother left you. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, focus on keeping your torso vertical and as motionless as possible.

Your hands are likewise nearly motionless at your sides as they work the rope. All the effort and movement should be in your arms and legs. Form is not terribly important here—but done properly you will be executing light, efficient hops that barely clear the rope as it passes beneath your effortlessly dancing feet.

Clinicians tell us that 10 minutes skipping rope will get you the same cardio result as a damnable 30-minute jog. And you’ll look like a prizefighter in training. Yeah!


If you haven’t yet destroyed your grandmother’s legacy 19th Century Sèvres' Painted Porcelain Vase, here’s another opportunity. Don’t worry too much about form here. Simply throw — shadowboxing-style — various types of kicks, feints, dodges, and punches. Shuffle your feet quickly between punch/kick combinations, like Rocky Balboa or Claressa Shields.

As you balletically “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, take care not to shuffle over the banister railing and plummet from your loft down into the living room. Again. 

Kickboxing at home will get your heart rate going while working the muscles in your legs, arms, and torso. It is important that you not stop moving during this exercise, and that you maintain continuous motion for 15 minutes.

The cardio will surprise you, as will the police when they kick down your door because passerby reported seeing you fighting an assailant through the curtains. Don’t let your dopamine rush convince you to shuffle over to the law officers. You will be tased and you’ll deserve it.

The Plank

If this exercise sounds like something used to extract confessions, you’re not too far off the mark. Planking with regularity helps you build stamina and strengthens your core and your abdominals. 

To do a proper plank, lay on your belly with your elbows right below your shoulders and flush with the floor, your legs extended. Your toes should be perpendicular to the floor.

Now from this position, lift your body while keeping your forearms flush with the floor and your toes perpendicular. Imagine a straight line from your heels to your head, and hold that position for 20 - 30 seconds, or until you begin sobbing uncontrollably. 


Calisthenics are physical movements, both isometric (applying force to an immovable object) and isotonic (full range movements at the joints) that keep your body flexible and your muscles engaged.

Moves within calisthenics include trunk twists, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and other dynamic positions you wouldn’t want to be seen doing by anyone whose respect you desire. Calisthenics are a great full body workout and can be done without any equipment, and at your own pace.

Downward-Facing Dog

As you surely know, this exercise is also called Adho Mukha Shvanasana. Downward-Facing Dog (known in practitioner shorthand as simply Downward Dog, I’m afraid) is a widely practiced yoga pose, and is included in this list because it is an inversion pose.

In an inversion pose, the head is lower than the heart, offering the benefits of a so-called inverted posture in which blood flow to the brain is increased to mitigate mental fogginess and cloudy thinking.

The position also strengthens the upper body, arms, upper back and shoulders. Downward Dog gently elongates and realigns the spine, helpfully stretches the hamstrings along the back of the legs, as well as the calves and Achilles tendon. Circulation is improved as the blood is made to flow along unfamiliar, gravity-assisted paths. 

In the position itself, the head is down and touching the floor. The palms and the feet are supporting the weight of the body, the arms are stretched straight forward at should width. The feet are a foot apart, the legs are straight, and the hips are raised as high as possible, forming the apex of the body shape. 

Your Body Was Built for Movement 

Working from home can be liberating to productivity, as you tunnel in to your distraction-free responsibilities and knock out some great projects. Unfortunately, working from home can also liberate the beast inside you, the one that wants to eat like a starved bear—newly awakened from hibernation and willing to ingest whatever it sees. Sound familiar?  


Cutting back on your omnivorous kitchen habit is step one. Plying these simple exercises will help tune up your body — and your attitude — to get you back into that more reasonable space where you feel centered, whole, clear-headed, and balanced.

At least until you are mandated back to your fancy downtown office with its 17 kitchenettes, waffle irons, and Pizza Fridays. Good luck.


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