At the time of writing this, stay at home orders and quarantine continue to make daily life difficult for many of us for various reasons. However, in terms of staying in shape, doing so at home can seem especially challenging. If you are a person who is used to playing sports, it may seem like doing so will be even harder.

For example, soccer players may be able to head outside in some places, but social distancing rules usually won’t allow them to play with teammates. Unfortunately, this is even true at the moment for those who play at the vaunted professional levels. Also, setting up a soccer field in the living room is just not an option for almost anyone.

Soccer is just one example. Runners, swimmers and people who play tennis, badminton, softball, baseball or basketball may all be worrying how they are going to stay in game shape when they are being required to spend most of their time indoors. Fortunately, indoor cardio can be pretty effective!

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Why Cardio is So Important for Athletes

Most serious athletes know this already, but it’s worth repeating: regardless of what sport they play, cardiovascular workouts are beneficial for any athlete. While skill and strength training also play a huge role in most sports conditioning, cardio should always do so too.

This is because most sports call for stamina and longevity, and cardio enhances the heart and lung’s ability to supply active muscles with sufficient oxygen. But it also enhances our muscle’s ability to use oxygen in a more efficient way in order to produce more energy!

Indoor Cardio Ideas That Work

There’s one big question for both athletes and those who simply make use of cardio exercise to stay generally fit: what forms of indoor cardio can be you do, especially in potentially tight spaces? After all, in lots of homes, everyone is home. Parents, kids, pets, roommates etc. are all looking for space for themselves, so personal space can be a real challenge for many people.

For some, certain daily exercise allowances (even during local lockdowns) can help. In most areas, you can still go running – if appropriately social distanced from others – but in an urban area, pulling that off is hard. Parents may also have a unique problem: as most kids are likely to be off from school now until at least September, they don’t even have the time to lace up their sneakers and go for a run.

With all of this in mind, here’s a look at some effective indoor cardio options that do not call for a lot of equipment, financial investment or even space. They can help athletes and others get the cardio workout they need while still staying safe at home.

1. The No Running Runner’s Workout

Fit Women Doing Push Ups at Home

Can’t get out for the good run you’d like to? Simple at-home workouts can give you the cardio experience you need in a small space without any equipment. Try this easy to follow (but challenging to complete) indoor cardio workout in place of a run:

Dressed in comfortable workout gear and good shoes, go through the following two to three times:

  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 25 high knees
  • 25 butt kicks
  • 7 jump squats
  • 7 push-ups
  • 20 sit-ups
  • 7 burpees

This routine offers a great indoor cardio challenge. It is easy to learn and can be done in less than 30 minutes in a small space. Altogether, it’s both time and quarantine friendly!

2. The No Ball Soccer Workout

Young Woman Using Jump Rope Indoors

As we mentioned, even the world’s most elite soccer players are having to change the way they train, as they too are under lockdown restrictions. Some experts, however, say you don’t need a soccer field – or even a ball – to get a good indoor cardio workout, one that will help keep you in game shape until you can go back to running drills on the pitch. Here are just a few examples.

Stair Running

Remember the scene in Rocky where he runs up and down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to get in fight shape? You don’t have to head to Philly to copy him. However, if you have stairs in your home, running up and down those will offer you a great cardio workout – at least the running practice that every soccer player needs.

Jump Roping

Another exercise borrowed from boxing is jump roping. Not only does it offer a great general cardio workout that can be completed in a small space, but it will also keep your jumping skills sharp – skills that are so important when you are going up for that header.

Simple Sprints

Have a backyard or more space inside (down in the basement perhaps?) Then try this short HIIT sprint routine to get a great indoor cardio workout. Keep those all important short run skills fine-tuned.

  • 2 sprints, each for 15 feet
  • Rest for 10 seconds between sprints
  • 2 sprints, each for 20 feet
  • Rest for 20 seconds between sprints
  • 2 sprints, each for 30 feet
  • Repeat backwards

3. The No Bat Baseball/Softball Workout

Spring training never even really got underway in 2020. It’s unclear when baseball and softball, America’s favorite summer sports, can resume. Not just for the pros, but for thousands of kids across the country. Ball players may be barred from batting cages right now, but indoor cardio can help them stay in reasonably good ball playing shape without the need to swing a bat.

Here are simple drills you can perform in small spaces that have been utilized in the past by the likes of New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton (who is also a huge yoga proponent by the way).

Here’s just one sample HITT routine you can try that calls for very little space and zero equipment. When performing it, rest for ten seconds between each move. Repeat the whole drill twice or three times for the best results:

  • 10 standing side-to-side jumps
  • 10 right foot one-foot hops
  • 10 left foot one-foot hops
  • 10 backward/forward jumps – create a line on the floor and simply jump backwards and forwards over it
  • 10 back and forth five-yard (15 ft) sprints

These are all not just great cardio moves but help hone the ball and coordination ballplayers need lots of!

Go to the Video

The one thing you can find a lot more of right now are online videos and instructional cardio workouts that are specifically designed to be executed indoors. And in addition to some excellent amateur videos you can find on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, a number of usually paid programs are currently being offered for free to help people get their indoor cardio in at home with some help from the experts. Why not try one of these great offerings while they are still free?

These are just a few ideas. There are lots more out there to help you get a great indoor cardio routine during lockdown. But whatever you do, do something. When restrictions start lifting and we move back towards a more normal existence, you’ll be very glad you did. 

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Stephanie Mansour
Stephanie Mansour is a nationally recognized Health & Fitness Expert as seen on Today Show, Dr. Oz, CNN, FOX New York, ABC Chicago, Fox LA, WGN, Fox Chicago, CBS Chicago, NBC Chicago, PBS, Yahoo, Sirius XM, Chicago Tribune and Crain’s Business. She reaches more than 52 million viewers per month. For the past decade, Stephanie has been helping millions of people “Step It Up,” every day in their lives with weight loss tips, lifestyle hacks, and fitness secrets to up their game. Steph coaches you on how to be the rockstar of your own health that you always knew you could be. She gets real and fast results, and provides easy tips and tricks that work no matter how busy you are. She’ll help you finally rid yourself of the weight – both emotionally and physically – to get the life you want. In fact, she coached one reality TV star to lose almost 90 lbs in 3 months!