Many of us have had the view that home is for relaxing, the office is for work, and the gym is for getting and staying fit. But we’re rethinking a lot of things these days, and just as we’re increasingly working from home and creating serene, productive home-work environments, we’re also seeing our homes as a place to preserve our active lifestyles, fitness, and overall health. Gyms are not available during the present health crisis, so remaining active at home isn’t just preferable, it’s essential. At home workouts can be interesting, varied, and effective.
Why do at home exercise?
Maintaining fitness and activity levels means maintaining a lifestyle choice, and that’s why I’m encouraged by the renewed focus on home-based fitness. Although unplanned, the focus on at home workouts seems likely to result in better health over time. Even gym executives like Kevin Steele, the Vice President of 24 Hour Fitness, said the company consistently advises its members to work out at home as much as they did in their gyms. According to Mr. Steele, if people work out at home in addition to the gym, they are much more likely to build long-term healthy lifestyles.
Fitness basics for at home workouts
Effective at home exercise habits need to cover the five fitness basics. Each of the basics serves such an important purpose in maintaining and building fitness, so I think our at-home workouts need to include elements that satisfy all of them. I’ve learned that the fitness basics include:
- A warm-up: Stiff muscles require moderate movement before more challenging exercise to prevent injury.
- A cardio workout: As far as overall health is concerned, cardio workouts are absolutely essential. Current recommendations include at least 150 minutes a week of exercise that raise our heart rates between 55 and 85 percent of our maximum heart rate.
- Resistance exercises: These build strength, flexibility, and increase muscle. They can also help build bone mass and, for those of us who may be at risk of bone loss, they can help preserve healthy bones and prevent problems like osteoporosis or arthritis as we grow older.
- Flexibility exercises: We learn to maintain balance, agility, and ability to do all the things we enjoy.
- A cool-down: Abruptly stopping exercise can lead to aching muscles and repetitive motion injuries. Injuries can affect our fitness plans and prevent workouts, so forgetting to spend at least five minutes in gentle cool-down exercises is essential to our at-home exercise programs.
Busy? Move briefly
It’s been known for several years that getting up and moving around for at least two minutes every hour throughout the day has significant benefits for our health. While no one will become a triathlete through getting up and moving hourly, heart health significantly benefits from this light, regular activity.
Lunges help with balance, flexibility, and warming up the large muscles in your legs and your core body muscles. Stand with your feet together. Then choose one leg to lunge forward. Slowly extend your lunging leg while you drop your hips toward the floor. Lower your torso until your extended thigh is parallel with the floor. Your front knee should align with your toes. Use your core body muscles to raise your body to the standing position. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating 10 to 15 times.
Good ol’ jumping jacks from our school days can also be an excellent warm-up. From a standing position with your arms at your side, jump up and extend your arms and legs outward as you jump. These simple exercises raise your heart rate and offer benefits to upper and lower body muscles.
At home workouts
With gyms closed and personal training a risk, every fitness business and brand has rushed to produce at-home workout videos, apps, and other resources. To be fair, many already offered time-tested and effective at home workouts. You can certainly dedicate a portion of your home to a home gym, and include all the health club amenities we all love like saunas, hot yoga rooms, and water massage lounges. However, there are a number of at-home workouts that could also be appealing.
I like Equinox fitness expert Colleen Conlon’s HIIT workout. It’s only 20 minutes long, uses your own body weight, and is designed to reduce impact on knees, ankles, and spine.
Keeping our core strong is essential to so many things in life, from maintaining good posture to staying strong and flexible. This eight-minute ab workout combines five different ab exercises which reach all parts of our core.
If you’re absolutely new to exercising on your own at home without the help of a trainer or exercise machines, I can’t recommend this beginner, three-move, five minute cardio workout highly enough. It’s a smart, effective way to get moving and achieve results safely and enjoyably.
Home exercise equipment
I’m sure you’ve heard of Mirror, the attractive, unobtrusive home exercise miracle that can fit anywhere in your home. Mirror reflects and guides your exercise in literally any way you choose, from cardio workouts to yoga classes to boxing rings. It would be easy to say, “just buy Mirror” and get started with the exercise you enjoy. Mirror also has competitors which may appeal more to your taste. You may also want a smart treadmill or a bike from Peloton, and home exercise equipment pioneer NordicTrack continues to evolve its products as well.
In no way do you need high-tech smart home exercise equipment to get and stay fit. Here are some low tech at home exercise tools with low cost and high returns on investment:
- Jump ropes – We don’t watch boxers jumping rope to prepare for a fight because it’s an ineffective workout. Jumping rope improves strength, flexibility, and cardio fitness in a total body workout.
- Hula hoops – I have to laugh but this child’s toy does more than entertain preteens. You can strongly impact your core, slim your thighs and do some powerful cardio with a hula hoop.
- Stability ball – This will allow you to perform several kinds of strength and flexibility exercises, reaching disparate muscle groups.
- Exercise bands – You can execute an infinite variety of strength and flexibility exercises for your upper and lower body with exercise bands. Invest in an exercise band rack and center if you are interested in an alternative to free weights or resistance exercise machines.
Now that I’ve mentioned many of the ways to have good at home workouts, I can see that we’re reinventing our exercise and fitness routines in the same way we’re reinventing the home office and working from home. It may take a bit of creativity to develop a routine that’s right for your fitness needs, but I’m confident you’re up to the challenge.