So you want (or need) to get in more cardio exercise. There are good reasons to do it: it’s good for the heart, helps reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, will help you lose weight and more. For many, getting the cardio exercise either means a trip to the gym, or a run at a local park or trail. But this is Los Angeles – and there are many options to get your cardio exercise in a low-impact way – and outside! Here are some fun options for you to do alone – or with a co-(cardio) conspirator.
With its mountains, beaches and generally amazing scenery, Los Angeles is a great place for hiking – especially if you go in the morning when it’s cooler. The good news is that the range in scenery is matched by the range in level of difficulty. So there’s no excuse to get your heart pumping during one of these great hikes.
Will Rogers State Historic Park
1501 Will Rogers Park Road
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Described as a “starter” hike for those new to L.A. hiking, the two-mile trail to Inspiration Point offers canyon views. The prize: from Inspiration point you’ll enjoy views of L.A., the Santa Monica Bay and on a really clear day Catalina Island. This trail is a part of Will Rogers State Park, formerly the ranch home of Will Rogers – a famous 1930s actor. You can tour the ranch on some days, and equestrian activities occur here, too.
Starting point: take the wide path near the tennis courts west of the park headquarters.
Wilacre Park (AKA Fryman Canyon)
12601 Mulholland Dr.,
Studio City, CA 91604
Chubby pooch? Take him out for some cardio exercise, too at Wilacre Park (also known as Fryman Canyon). In L.A. people talk about Runyon Canyon as the place to take your dog, but I hear it’s overcrowded lately, and this 3-mile hike is presented as an alternative. It’s not a terribly difficult hike, and you’ll get views of the valley and L.A., and can enjoy a picnic area along the way.
Santa Monica Steps
4th St & Adelaide Dr
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Oh, the dreaded stair stepper. Appears to be such an easy workout but ends up giving you that great ache the next day. The Santa Monica stairs are like that but way better. There are two sets – one wooden and straight up, and another made of concrete that has turns. Choose your poison (or do them both) and GO! You’ll breathe the ocean air and get fantastic views of Pacific Palisades/Santa Monica hillsides. Just be warned: this is a real workout!
You don’t have to be an experienced cyclist to get in a good workout on a bicycle. And as is true with hiking, Southern California offers many bike ride options – with different levels of difficulty – that will be fun, as well as good for your heart. And if you don’t have a bike, you can rent one – usually even at the start of these bike rides.
Santa Monica Beach
This is one of the most iconic rides in Santa Monica. And there’s so much to see you probably won’t even notice you’re getting a workout. Take Washington towards the ocean and park in the parking lot there. If you don’t have a bike, there are several bike rental places on Washington and on the strip itself. They even rent tandem bikes if you want to ride with the kids. Take the bike path north, through Venice Beach, past Pacific Park and all the way up to Temescal Canyon Road – that’s about 8 miles. The good news is you can turn back at any time. And there are plenty of places to stop for lunch, ice cream or a cold beer along the way.
Lake Balboa Park
6300 Balboa Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91406
This San Fernando Valley park is a Mecca for families and singles alike, with its playgrounds, picnic areas and more. It also has a great bike path that faces the lake, offering good views while serving as a “starter” ride if you want to do more. They even rent bikes there if you need them. Bonus: you can rest afterwards while the kids play in the playground, or enjoy a picnic by the lake!
Here’s a way to get your cardio in and reduce stress while enjoying the cool Pacific Ocean breezes. Kayaking isn’t very difficult even if you’ve never tried it. In addition to being a good cardiovascular workout, kayaking helps you to build strength. And there are many places to rent them in L.A. Here are some recommendations.
Marina del Rey
Marina del Rey Boat Rentals
13719 Fiji Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Rent kayaks by the hour here and head on out to the Marina bay. You’ll get views of Marina del Rey, Venice and Santa Monica, while soaking up the rays and breathing in the ocean breezes. And when you’re done, there are plenty of local restaurants to grab lunch or dinner nearby – ranging from casual to exotic.
Sunset Bay Kayaks
16862 Pacific Coast Hwy
Sunset Beach, CA 94019
This kayak company in Long Beach offers a variety of kayaks – singles and doubles – that you can take out to the Long Beach Harbor. You’ll take in views of amazing homes, boats and more during this wonderful cardio workout. They offer packages for special occasions – including holidays – too.
There’s plenty of debate in the fitness community about the benefits of yoga. Is it cardio? To some it is. I say let the experts duke it out while you secretly enjoy getting your body moving doing yoga: OUTSIDE. Here are some options in L.A.
Runyon Canyon YOGA
Runyon Canyon Park
Franklin and Fuller Ave
Los Angeles, CA
By the Fuller Avenue entrance
This area is typically known for its hiking. But it’s also a great place to do some yoga! This group has something of a cult following, and is run by several yogis. Stretch, balance and breathe, with the beautiful grounds around you. It’s sure to get your heart pumping in a number of ways. Times vary by day; check Facebook for details
2800 East Observatory Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Hiking yoga? Yep – that’s right. You can hike and do yoga at the same time at this famous L.A.-area park. This is perfect for the naysayers who say yoga isn’t exercise. You can get your ohm on while catching the views and getting your heartbeat going. Meet in front of the statue – directly in front of the observatory. Times vary; check web site for details.
Jennifer Vides exercises so that she can enjoy the wonderful California cuisine. She writes at JenniferVides.com.