You can’t always make it to the gym to work on your fitness.
Sometimes life gets in the way: work, errands, Covid.
Fortunately, there are plenty of at-home fitness options, including:
The point is, just because you are working out at home, it doesn’t mean you have to slack on fitness.
After all, it’s now more important than ever to strengthen your immune system with exercise.
Let’s take a closer look at fitness outside the gym:
1. Fitness: Bodyweight Basics
You don’t need weights to get a solid burn.
As a matter of fact, your own bodyweight is plenty!
With the right approach, squats, push-ups, and lunges can leave you exhausted.
A little something called “circuit training” is a great way to squeeze in a hard workout.
All it takes is rotating through a few simple exercises.
Here’s an example of a beginner bodyweight circuit:
- 10 walking lunges
- 10 pushups
- 20 squats
- 15 seconds plank
- 30 jumping jacks
- 10 dumbbell rows with each arm
For the dumbbell rows, you can use a gallon jug filled with water.
As long as you do enough reps, it should be plenty of weight to hit your back and shoulders.
Don’t have a gallon jug?
Any object that’s easy to grip and has a similar weight will do.
If you aren’t familiar with some of these exercises, don’t worry, there are plenty of free video tutorials online.
2. Fitness: Kick It Up a Notch with HIIT
Want to get the most health benefits in the shortest time?
Then HIIT is the way to go!
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, involves short bursts of exercise.
The average HIIT workout takes only 10-30 minutes and can produce double the health benefits as moderate exercise. (1)
Here’s an example:
- For a HIIT workout on a stationary bike, ride hard for 30 seconds at high resistance, then take it easy for a couple of minutes at low resistance.
- Repeat four to six times per workout.
- It’s the most efficient way to exercise!
And as it turns out, HIIT is especially good for your brain.
For starters, it increases the production of BDNF, a hormone that creates new connections in the brain.
Starting your day with a quick HIIT workout can get your brain on track for a productive day.
All it takes is three 30-minute sessions a week. (2)
3. Fitness: Yoga Health Benefits
According to a recent study, roughly 36 million Americans now practice yoga. (3)
Yoga is a holistic mind-body practice that first made its way to the states in the 1960s and 70s.
It combines focused breathwork with movement.
And the best part is all you need is a yoga mat.
If you don’t have a mat, you can still get by as long as you have a semi-soft surface in your home.
Overall, yoga has some pretty amazing health benefits:
- Strengthened immune system
- Rids the body of toxins
- Better digestion
- Improved sleep quality
- Better flexibility and balance
- Improved blood flow
- Increased strength and endurance
- Less chronic pain
- Fewer headaches
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Reduced depression symptoms
For example, a recent study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that, “Yoga has an effective role in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Thus, it can be used as complementary medicine.” (4)
The most common reasons that people do yoga are chronic back pain, stress, and overall physical fitness.
Ultimately, it’s a wonderful way to correct the harmful effects of too much sitting.
There are several kinds of yoga to choose from and each one is suited for different goals and fitness levels.
For example, Vinyasa and Ashtanga are more of a workout. (5)
Yin yoga, on the other hand, is easier and more restorative.
Bikram and Hatha styles involve holding challenging poses for longer periods of time.
However, there are usually beginner variations of each pose.
Regardless of your fitness level, there’s always a healthy way to try yoga for the first time.
4. Fitness: Pump It Up with Pilates
Pilates was developed following WWI to help soldiers recover from their injuries.
Since then, it has evolved into several fitness styles, including hybrids like Yogilates and PiYo.
Ultimately, all pilates styles use bodyweight exercises to improve strength and mobility.
If you’re working through joint problems, pilates is a low-impact way to stay fit.
Pilates has similar health benefits to yoga, including:
- Decreased joint pain
- Better balance
- Increased muscle strength
- Improved Stamina
- Straighter posture
- Greater flexibility and mobility
At the same time, it can help manage conditions like:
- Respiratory issues
- Urinary incontinence
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
Pilates targets core muscles like the abs and lower back.
As a result, it builds functional strength that you can use every day to mow the lawn, clean the house, and run errands.
Like yoga, it puts a lot of emphasis on proper breathing.
When it’s all said and done, pilates is another low-stress option for at-home fitness.
5. Fitness: Walking
Never underestimate the power of walking!
Even if you’re feeling low-energy, you can still take a stroll.
It’s a safe way to recover from injury and support brain health.
Here are a few more health benefits of walking:
- Boosts Immunity: Walking may reduce your chance of catching a cold or flu. One recent study tracked 1000 adults during the cold and flu season. Researchers found that people who walked at least 30 minutes a day had significantly fewer respiratory infections. At the same time, they had 43 percent fewer sick days. What’s more, those who did get sick had less severe symptoms. (6)
- Lower Blood Sugar: High blood sugar increases the risk of diabetes. Fortunately, taking three 15-minute walks every day can significantly lower blood sugar. Try to make walking a habit before or after each meal.
- Support the Heart: According to a study published in the Journal of European Epidemiology, walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19 percent. You can reduce your risk even more by walking longer distances. (7)
- Reduces Joint Pain: Believe it or not, joints love to move, especially sore ones. If you deal with chronic pain and inflammation, walking can help. A low-impact movement like walking can increase joint lubrication and reduce pain. Studies show that walking five to six miles a week can help prevent arthritis. It’s never too early to make it a habit! (8)
Try going on at least one walk a day to experience these outstanding health benefits.
Walking is free and easy to do and all you need is a sturdy pair of tennis shoes.
6. Fitness: Running
If your joints can handle it, running can be another great form of at-home fitness.
Just lace up your sneakers and head out the door! No fancy equipment needed.
However, running makes you more prone to injuries like plantar fasciitis, joint inflammation, achy muscles, and blackened toenails.
In order to stay healthy, follow these running tips:
Avoid stretching before you run.
Static stretching before you run is a great way to injure yourself. That’s because it makes the muscles and ligaments temporarily more elastic (stretchy). Instead, it’s better to “warm-up.”
Warm-up before your run.
Warming up gives your muscles and heart a chance to prepare for the wear and tear of running. Start by walking back and forth at a fast pace. Spend a few minutes doing low-impact bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and arm circles.
If you’re going to run, it’s best to do it a few times a week. This way your body can build strength and muscle memory. However, don’t overdo it. Start running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and always take the weekend off. Recovery time is important, especially when you’re first starting out. If you feel extra sore, go ahead and skip a day.
Try burst training.
Instead of only going on long jogs, mix it up with wind sprints. Running fast for short distances engages fast-twitch muscles that don’t normally get hit during long runs. At the same time, sprinting pushes the heart to work harder.
Cross-train with bicycling and other workouts.
You never want to be a one-trick pony when it comes to fitness. Running is repetitious and you have to balance it with other activities. On your days off from running, do restorative exercises like yoga and pilates. At the same time, it’s good to swap a few running days for bicycling days. This way you can still get your cardio but give your joints a break. (9)
Stretch after you run.
Okay, now it’s time to stretch! After you finish your run, spend at least 5-10 minutes stretching your legs, arms, feet, and back. Chances are, they’re going to be tight after all that impact. Plus, stretching reduces soreness and helps you bounce back faster. It also reduces the risk of repetitive use injuries like plantar fasciitis.
7. Fitness: Bicycling
Bicycling gets you outside and breathing the fresh air.
Plus, it’s a great cardio workout.
Not only that, but cycling is an environmentally-friendly way to get around town.
Here are just a few of the health benefits of bicycling:
- Pedaling strengthens the muscles. Cycling is a complete lower-body workout. It hits your glutes, quads, and calves, all in one smooth motion. Plus, you use the hamstrings and hip flexors. At the same time, it engages abdominal muscles for balance.
- Cycling builds bone. Resistance activities like bicycling apply healthy pressure to the bones. Over time, this increases bone density and makes them less likely to break.
- Easy on the joints. Compared to other activities like running, bicycling is more low-impact. In other words, you can work up a good sweat without stressing out your knees and back. It’s a great fitness option for anyone with age-related stiffness or joint pain.
- Works out the lungs. Bicycling is a fantastic aerobic workout that supports the blood vessels, heart, and brain. At the same time, it releases feel-good endorphins.
Ultimately, bicycling increases overall fitness and makes you stronger for everyday activities.
Having stronger muscles, bones, and lungs makes it easier to walk, balance, and climb stairs.
How does a morning bike ride sound?
Starting your day off with a bike ride can boost circulation and jumpstart your day.
If you can, try riding before breakfast.
A 2019 study found that people who exercise before breakfast burn twice as much fat as people who exercise after breakfast. (10)
8. Fitness: Play Games with the Family
Kids know best…
Exercise is more fun when it’s a game!
Playing tag, kickball, or catch gets the heart pumping just as good as a run.
The only difference is that it doesn’t feel like work.
At the same time, family fitness is a great way to bond.
More importantly, exercising as a family leads by example.
In today’s day and age, most kids are stuck on the couch playing video games.
However, family exercise is a great opportunity to give them a break from electronics.
Plus, exercise supports developing brains.
For example, studies show that just one session of exercise can improve learning in young children. (11)
If you have any more questions about at-home fitness, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.