What Counts as Cardio?

by Shaun Dreisbach

What Counts as Cardio?

When play is the primary mode of exercise, how do you know if it’s really, well, exercise? Here’s a list of fun home cardio activities that qualify—ranging from most heart-pumping to least


Skipping rope

It burns more calories per minute than just about any other type of aerobic exercise.

Running around the yard playing with the dog

All that chasing really gets little heart rates up.

Splashing and kicking in the kiddie pool

Swimming helps build flexibility, endurance, and muscle strength (water adds 12 times more resistance than air).

Jumping in a bouncy house

Yes, it’s super fun, but it’s also good aerobic and resistance exercise that improves balance.

Dancing in the living room

Not as high-energy or high-impact as running, but it does get a kid’s whole body moving.

Riding a tricycle

It gives legs a good strength- and endurance-building workout.

Digging for worms

It really is exercise, thanks to all the squatting, standing, and arm work involved.