6 Best Cardio Workouts for Weight Loss

Heart-pumping cardio workouts burn calories and increase your metabolism, two essential components of weight loss. Cardio, also called aerobic exercise, covers everything from running and biking to rowing, swimming and even walking. But what types of cardio workouts best help you shed extra pounds? To effectively lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. That means the more calories you burn in a workout session, the closer you are to your goal. Upgrade your routine with these six essential cardio workouts for weight loss.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, running at a rate of 5 miles per hour burns about 295 calories for every 30 minutes of exercise. While the actual calorie burn varies based on your age, gender, weight, health and other factors, this cardio choice provides the most efficient form of weight loss for most people. The CDC based its estimates on a 154-pound individual. If you're new to running, start with a slow jog for as long as you can manage and work your way up to a faster, longer workout.


Cycling burns about as many calories per half hour as running, so it's a good choice if you want a calorie-burning cardio exercise that's a bit more gentle on the joints. For best results, you'll want to bike at a rate of at least 10 mph, whether you choose to cycle outdoors or on a stationary bike inside. If you travel less than 10 mph, you'll burn about 145 calories in a half-hour bike ride. If you haven't biked since childhood, go to a bike shop in your area with a good reputation to find a cycle that fits your needs.


The CDC says that slow freestyle laps will burn about 255 calories per 30-minute session. Swimming is also a gentle exercise for those who struggle with joint pain or limited mobility. Many gyms and public pools have lanes available for lap swimming. To improve the efficiency of your water workout, swim in intervals where you work hard for a few minutes, rest for 30 seconds, then resume the accelerated pace.

Aerobic Exercise 

This category encompasses exercise using cardio machines like ellipticals, dance-based cardio classes, calisthenics such as jumping jacks and similar exercises. According to the CDC, the average person can expect to burn 240 calories with a 30-minute aerobic workout. Check out free online videos to get ideas if you're new to aerobic exercise.

Speed Walking 

If you can keep a pace of at least 4.5 mph, a simple walk around your neighborhood can burn about 230 calories in a half hour. If you travel at a slower pace of about 3.5 mph, you'll burn 140 calories in 30 minutes. In addition to your speed, the terrain also makes a difference in your workout. For example, the CDC notes that hiking a rugged trail rather than an asphalt path burns about 185 calories per half hour. Anyone can start walking; just grab a good pair of athletic shoes and make a motivating playlist that will get you going.

Yard Work 

Heavy tasks like chopping and hauling wood, planting trees or placing landscape stones can burn as much as 220 calories in a half hour. Lighter gardening is also a good cardio workout, burning 165 calories in a 30-minute session. Improve your home's curb appeal while slimming down and achieving a healthy weight for your body type.

Now that you know which cardio exercises provide the most efficient workout, plan a weight loss regimen in which you burn more calories than you consume each day. Incorporate strength training exercises such as weight lifting and yoga to tone muscles while boosting your body's metabolism.