Kelley Vargo by Kelley Vargo

It’s the middle of winter—it’s dark in the morning before going into the office and dark not long after getting home. Without a creative cardio routine, it’s tough to get motivated to head to the gym before or after the workday. That’s why I am constantly coming up with ways to keep me engaged and motivated to get in those steps and heartbeats. Whether you are inside at a gym or outside in the cold, there are a number of ways to get in exercise. Here are five 30-minute cardio workouts to add variety to your cardio routine this winter. 

1. Incline Walk With Sprints Mixed In (Gym or Hill Outdoors)

This has to be one of my favorite cardio workouts. Typically done on a treadmill, I like to raise the treadmill up to an incline of 15%. I usually walk from anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.

For a 30-minute workout, walk on an incline for 3.5 minutes; next, bring the treadmill down to a flat for the following 30 seconds. Once the treadmill is flat (around 4:30), run for 1 minute at a sprint pace. Repeat for six cycles. For your walking pace, set the treadmill anywhere from 3.0 mph to 3.5 mph. To maximize the efficiency of this workout, don’t hold on to the treadmill while walking on the incline. 

To implement this session outdoors, find a decent hill. Walk the hill for 4 minutes and then run on a flat for 1 minute. 

2. Stairs With Plyometrics  (Gym or Outdoors)

If you are doing this workout indoors, hop on the Stairmill. Set the pace to 80 to 90 steps per minute. Climb for 4.5 minutes. Then hop off the machine and perform 60 seconds of a plyometric exercises (see table below). Repeat this circuit for 6 rounds.

Round 1: Mountain Climbers

mountain climbers

Round 2: Squat Jumps

squat jump

Round 3: Burpees



Round 4: Jumping Lunges

Jumping Lunges

Round 5: Skaters


Round 6: Plank Up Downs

Plank ups

plank ups

3. Elliptical Intervals (Gym)This workout can be down outdoors as well. You just need some stairs and a space to complete your plyometrics.

Take high-intensity interval training to the elliptical. Start out at a moderate incline and moderate resistance to warm up for 5 minutes. Next, bring the incline up to its maximum and sprint for the next 60 seconds; recover for 60 seconds. Repeat this cycle until you reach 25 minutes. For the remaining 5 minutes, cool down by bringing the elliptical to a flat and resistance to zero. 

4. Bike (Gym or Outdoors)

Whether you ride a bike indoors or outdoors, you can get in a good cardiovascular workout. For a 30-minute ride indoors, alternate between fast songs at a sprint pace and slower songs with heavy resistance. If you are riding outdoors, attempt to do the same while using your gears and pace to vary the intensity of your ride.

5. Midday Walk (Outdoors)

I like to go for a 30-minute walk around lunchtime to stretch my legs, get some fresh air, get my creativity going and get in some steps. You might also consider suggesting walking meetings at work. I mention mid-day because the sun tends to be a little warmer than in the morning or later in the evening; however, whenever you can fit in 30 minutes, go for it. 

A few other things to keep in mind if you are exercising outdoors this winter: Make sure to dress properly and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. And don’t forget to fuel your training by eating around your workouts.