Feeling cooped up? 6 exercises you can do at home
When you want to exercise but the weather is keeping you indoors, all you need is some open floor space at home.
The American Council on Exercise recommends that your exercise routine should include three categories:
- Aerobic exercises get your heart beating faster by using your large muscles. Walking, jogging, bicycling (or a stationary bike), swimming, rowing and dance exercises are good aerobic activities.
- Strength conditioning works your muscles and make them stronger. Strength conditioning also helps your bones to become stronger. You can use free weights or your body’s weight.
- Stretching exercises help improve your flexibility and joint range of motion.
This involves doing a succession of activities that get your heart rate up. Circuit training incorporates strength training without breaks in between.
Here’s an example of a circuit training workout you can do at home. You can use light free weights, or you can use two milk jugs with water if you don’t have any. And you’ll still get a great workout if you skip the exercises with weights.
It’s a good idea to warm up first. Start by walking in place for a while. Then bring your knee up to your chest as you walk. Warm up until your body feels warm and you start to sweat. When you’re ready:
- 15 leg squats — Keep your legs hip-width apart and your back flat. Slowly bend your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Return to starting position. Repeat 15 times if you can.
- 15 shoulder raises — Stand straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold the weights in your hands by your sides. Exhale and lift your arms out from your sides to about the level of your shoulders. Don’t bend your wrists. Lower slowly. Repeat 15 times if you can.
- 15 lunges — Stand straight. Step forward with one foot. Bend your front knee and lower your hips until your front thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Your back knee, ankle and foot will also bend. Try to keep your back straight. Using your front leg, push back into the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Aim to repeat this move 15 times on each side.
- 15 bicep curls — Stand with a weight in one hand. Keep your back straight. Slowly bend your elbow and bring your hand with the weight up toward your shoulder with your palms facing up. Keep your elbows at your sides. Release and repeat on the other side. You can also do both arms at the same time with a weight in each hand. Do 15 curls on each side if you can.
- 12 to 15 bent-knee push-ups — Start on your hands and knees. Your hands should be right under your shoulders with your fingertips pointing forward. Keeping your body and legs straight down to your knees, slowly bend your elbows so your chest moves toward the floor. Don’t let your back sag. Press with your arms to push yourself back up. If it is too hard to do from the floor, you can stand up and do push-ups off the wall or kitchen counter until you gain enough strength to move to the floor. Make your goal to repeat 12 to 15 times.
- 15 crunches — Lie on your back with your knees raised and bent and your feet flat. Your heels should be about a foot away from your butt. Cross your hands in front of your chest. Exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly curl up so your head, shoulders, and upper back are off the mat. Keep your chin tucked close to your neck and your lower back on the floor. Hold for a moment and then release. Repeat this 15 times.
As you get stronger, you can repeat this routine two or three times, and you can do this workout two or three times a week.
If you’re trying to lose weight, the American Council on Exercise notes you can burn more calories by working out more often. Still, it’s important that you schedule one day off each week to allow your body time to recover.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend that you exercise moderately for 150 minutes each week. Moderate is defined as a level of intensity where you’re just about to break a sweat.
Before you begin an exercise program, check with your health care provider. This ensures you’re fit to do the activities you plan, and you should let them know if you feel chest, shoulder or arm pain, feel nauseous, feel lightheaded or have trouble breathing even after you stop exercising.
Letting your health care provider know about your plans also gives you some accountability. Most of us won’t want to report on our next health care visit that we failed to follow through on our exercise plans.
Dr. Amy R. Ford practices sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, WI.
About the Author
Amy R. Ford, DO, practices Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Aurora Medical Center in Summit, WI