9 activity ideas to get your heart rate up

Running, bicycling, walking up a hill — these are all great ideas for getting your heart rate up and earning PAI. But sometimes you may be looking for something different, or trying something new to change up your routine. Continue on for 9 different activity ideas that are sure to increase your heart rate / pulse quickly, getting you one step closer to achieving your PAI goal.

1. Chair boxing

Start seated in a sturdy chair with a flat back — preferably one without wheels! Raise both of your hands next to your face, with your fingers folded into a loose fist. Start out punching forward one arm at a time, keeping arms at face height. Vary your pace from slow to quick punches. You can also change things up with different styles of punches like uppercuts and hooks. Keep your arms raised for as long as possible to keep your heart rate up!

2. Jump rope

Jumping rope can be fairly simple, but can also get your heart rate up quickly! Start with the jump rope behind you, with your arms close to your sides and elbows tight to your body. Stand with your feet close together and your weight on the balls of your feet. Jump softly, making sure your heels do not touch the ground - keeping your knees slightly bent helps! Control the rope with your wrists. First work to maintain a consistent rhythm, and once you have that down try doing different intervals — such as 30 seconds quick jumping with 10 seconds of rest, and then 40 seconds of medium-speed jumping with 10 seconds of rest. You can also try out different styles of jumping like using only one leg at a time!

3. Seated skater switches

Start seated in a sturdy chair, on the edge. Keep your right knee in front of you, bent. Extend your left leg out to your left side, with your toes pointed. Start leaning forward with your left arm, bringing it towards your right foot. If you can, reach for the ground! Then quickly switch sides, bringing your right leg out with toes pointed, and right arm towards your left leg. Repeat this as quickly as you can, aiming for 25 alternating repetitions. This exercise should engage your core, thighs, arms, and shoulders, and get your pace quickening. 

4. Lunges

Start standing with feet shoulder width apart. Take a fairly large step forward with your right foot and lower your body until both knees are bent at 90 degrees. Most of your weight should be in the ball of your front foot (right in this case), with some weight on your back foot’s toes. Push back on your right foot, bringing your body back to the starting position. Then step forward with your left leg.

There are many variations of lunges that you can try to add a challenge. Instead of alternating each time, you could try doing 10 lunges on your right foot and then 10 lunges on your left foot. Instead of stepping back after a lunge, you could try pushing back explosively into a jump, swapping your legs in the air and landing in a lunge on the opposite side.

5. Jacks - seated or jumping

There are a few different ways of doing jacks, including seating and jumping. Choose the type that best suits you, being mindful of your muscles and joints.

Seated jacks begin with you sitting on a chair, scooted forward towards the edge. Sit straight with your knees together and arms in raised L-shape. Your palms should be facing forward, with your hands at about the height of your face. Move both legs out to the sides in a triangle shape, flexing your feet. “Land” your legs on your heels. While moving your legs, bring your arms together above your head. Then return to the starting position — that’s one rep. Aim to do 30 repetitions in a row!

Jumping jacks begin with you standing with feet together, arms at your sides. Jump / hop to bring your feet wider than shoulder width. At the same time, bring your arms up to a Y shape above your head - or fully above your head. Then hop to return to the starting position — that’s one rep. If you want to do jumping jacks with slightly less impact but don’t have a chair nearby, instead of jumping you could step your feet out one at a time.

6. Burpees

Burpees can be tiring, but the pay-off is great — because you’re working your entire body, you’re bound to earn some PAI. Start off standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down, bending your knees and bringing your hands to the floor slightly in front of you. Try to keep your chest up as much as possible. Transfer your weight to your hands, pushing and jumping your feet backwards into a high plank / pushup position. Complete a pushup by bending your arms and lowering your chest to the ground. Next, push up from your hands and the balls of your feet to jump forward, bringing your feet back to that low squat position. Rise to the top of the squat in a fluid motion, squeezing your glutes, using the power of your momentum to transition into a jump / hop. Land back with your feet shoulder width apart - that’s one rep!

There are a lot of areas in a burpee that you can modify if you’re just starting out, if your joints are more sensitive, or if you’re feeling tired. For example, instead of jumping back to a high plank / pushup position, you could instead step your feet back one at a time. Instead of doing a full pushup, you could instead lower your knees to the ground first and do a modified pushup. Finally, instead of hopping / jumping at the end, you could instead end at the standing position. 

Start off doing your best to complete 5 burpees — it doesn’t sound like a lot, but they can be tiring! Make sure you focus on your form and keep your core tight. Work your way up to jumping higher, squatting lower, and finally doing more reps.

7. Hinge and cross

This exercise focuses on your core and back muscles. Start seated in a chair, all the way back with your knees together. Keep your toes pointed, barely touching the ground. Lift your hands and bring them behind your head, with your shoulders bent. Tensing your abs, adjust your posture so your shoulder blades barely touch the chair’s back — it should feel like you’re pushing your chest forward and sitting up straight. Cross your right elbow to your left knee, then return to the starting position. Repeat with your left elbow and right knee. Every time your elbow meets your knee, make sure you are exhaling and not putting too much pressure on your neck. Aim to complete 15-20 reps.

For a greater challenge, keep your toes off the ground the entire time. You could also try holding the ‘hinged’ position for a few seconds each time!

8. Mountain climbers

Mountain climbers will engage your entire body - from your core, to your arms, and your legs. First, start off in a high plank position (also known as the top of a pushup), with your arms directly under your shoulders, legs straight, and your toes firmly planted on the ground behind you. Engage your core to bring one knee into your chest and then back to the ground behind you, tightening your muscles so that your hips sway as little as possible. Then perform the same action with your opposite leg. Quicken your pace so you are “running” or “climbing” while maintaining a straight body. Start off by trying 30 seconds worth of mountain climbers, and work your way up to more.

9. Jump squats

Squats, or the more challenging cousin, jump squats, are a great way to strengthen your legs and get your heart rate up. Start off with your feet shoulder width apart. With your core tightened, lower your body and bend your knees as if you were going to sit in a chair. Ideally lower your body so your thighs are parallel to the ground — and even lower if possible! Pause at the bottom of the squat. Then, squeezing your glutes and your core, explosively launch your body up into a jump. We recommend swinging your arms a bit to help with momentum. Land with your knees bent, lowering yourself into another repetition. 

If squat jumps are a bit too much for you, try doing more repetitions of regular squats, going at different speeds to increase your heart rate and strengthen your legs.

Final tips

If you’re finding these exercises too difficult, remember it’s ok to take a break and try again. Sometimes doing intervals can be the best way to exercise! Start off trying 20 seconds of any exercise, then resting again for 20 seconds. Then work your way up to doing longer intervals of exercise and shorter intervals of rest. You can do it!

Want more tips for getting your heart rate up and earning PAI? Check out another one of our blog articles here.

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