Alternative Exercises to Running

By Drew Heideman, PT, ATC

Alternative Exercises to Running


If the intensity of running puts too much strain on your joints, walking is a great way to get cardio at a lower intensity. Walking is also a great fitness activity to perform with friends. To burn as many calories as you would when running, you will have to walk for a longer period. To see just how much more you would need to walk than run to get the same results, check out our Fitness Tips!

Alternative Exercises to Running - walking is a great low intensity exercise

Walking is a great low-intensity exercise


People biking on a trail.

People biking on a trail.

Whether stationary or mobile, biking is a great alternative exercise for running. Cycling is fast-paced and can provide the same intensity as running, without putting the same amount of strain on your joints. With biking, you can control your workout’s speed and intensity to customize it to your needs.  Spin classes are also effective for a high-intensity bike workout.


Man swimming in a lap pool.

A man swimming.

Swimming is a total-body exercise that is not weight-bearing. Because of this, it puts little strain on your joints since the water is holding your body weight. It targets all major muscle groups and is a great alternative exercise that can provide total-body benefits.

Anti-Gravity Running/Elliptical Running

Using an Anti-Gravity Treadmill or an elliptical machine can be great for those who enjoy running but find that it puts too much strain on their joints. These alternatives allow for many of the benefits of traditional treadmill running, without all the pressure.


Zumba provides a total body cardio workout that combines traditional aerobic exercises with Latin-style dance. The classes offer a fun and motivational environment and require no dance experience. Classes include upbeat music and are typically high-energy. It’s easy to forget you are in a Zumba class to exercise.


Sports of all kinds are great for varying your exercise routine. They add a group element to your workout, which can often lead to increased motivation. There are many great sports to play as an alternative to traditional exercise, including basketball, tennis, volleyball, and racquetball. It is often easy to forget that you are exercising when you are playing a sport, which can benefit those who find traditional workout routines to be mundane.

High-Intensity Interval Training


HIIT combines high intensity and low to moderate intensity exercises

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) combines high intensity and low to moderate intensity exercises to create a short workout. You do 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise (for example, biking as fast as you can at high resistance or sprinting as fast as possible), followed by 1-4 minutes of low to moderate-intensity exercise (for example, biking at a slow speed and low resistance, or walking/jogging). Repeat for a total of 4-6 cycles. This type of exercise is great for optimizing your time while still maintaining a high-intensity workout.  To read about other conservative treatment options for the knee, please read this ARTICLE.

At Home Cardio

Many people during the Covid pandemic have made the choice to do their cardio portion of their exercise program at home.  Stationary bikes, Peloton, treadmills, elliptical or other online fitness platforms are great choices for cardio at home.  Just keep track of your heart rate like you would at the gym or outside.

Related Article: Avoiding Indoor Cycling Injuries

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, go to or call 904-858-7045

Please watch this video on How To Put On a Medial Unloader Brace.

JOI and JOI Rehab

JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. Make an appointment by calling (904) JOI-2000 or schedule online.  New to JOI, you can now make and cancel physician follow-up visits on the JOI Patient Portal. 

By: Drew Heideman, MPT, ATC, PES

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

Make an appointment at JOI

Skip to content