Getting the Most Out of a Home Workout
We know that regular exercise is a key ingredient to living a long and healthy life: It tones the body; strengthens muscles, bones, and the immune system; helps us get a good night’s sleep; and improves our cognitive function. But we don’t need to go to a gym to get great fitness results.
It is possible to get excellent results at home using just your body’s weight or resistance bands. Most exercises can be modified for those who have been sedentary or who do not yet have the necessary muscular strength to perform them in their standard forms. Knowing how to get the most out of exercising at home is perfect for people who are not comfortable in a gym environment or who are too busy to spend the time it takes to drive to the gym; it is especially useful for those who travel frequently and want to have an effective exercise routine when they’re on the road.
Here are a few simple but very effective workouts to do at home that will both strengthen and tone muscles.
Push-ups — Push-ups strengthen the chest, arm, and back muscles and also the stabilizing muscles of the back and front of the body. The standard version of this exercise is usually quite difficult for people who have not been working out, especially women, but it can be modified: Stand approximately one foot away from the wall with hands on the wall at chest level and shoulder width apart. Slowly lean into the wall until your nose almost touches it, then push away slowly and steadily, keeping your body as straight as possible. When this version of the push-up becomes easy to do for 15 reps, transition to doing a push-up with your hands on a bench or chair seat (stabilized of course!), and then once sufficient strength has been developed, you can perform the standard push-up on the floor.
Squats —The squat works the muscles of the lower body: legs, both front and back (quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes). Again, for someone who has not been working out, the standard squat may present a challenge. What many find helpful is to step about two inches away from a chair – facing away from it as if you are going to sit down. Keeping your back straight and chin up, slowly lower yourself to where you are touching the chair and then immediately stand up, repeating up to 15 times. Adding resistance bands or weights make the squat more challenging and helps to build strength.
Balance — A simple but effective exercise for increasing balance is standing on one leg. With feet hip width apart, lift one leg off the floor and hold the position as long as you can maintain good form, up to 30 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg. It’s a good idea to stand next to a wall when doing this exercise, as many people are surprised at how difficult they find it at first.
And for cardiorespiratory fitness, there are few things more invigorating than getting out for a brisk walk in the sunshine and fresh air on a regular basis.
Exercise has been called the fountain of youth, and most will agree that life is more fun when you’re fit. As with any exercise program, if you have been sedentary or have a medical condition, check with your doctor before performing any of these exercises.
For information on personal fitness training in your home, contact Diana Baumann Mario, ACE-certified fitness trainer, at 973-713-5170.