There are times—especially during the cold weather in the Northeast—when I just don't want to venture outside to the gym. That's the last thing I want to do.
Those are the times I usually skip my workouts—and I feel it. Lately, I've found that skipping too many exercise sessions makes me feel, well, lousy. My body gets stiff and sluggish, my joints get a bit achy, and my mood plummets. I need to get those endorphins pumping.
So, I've begun to think about and research various ways to stay fit when you're stuck inside the house. Maybe that's you, too. Or maybe you just don't like gyms and would rather get your moving done in the privacy of your home.
Whatever the reason, there are lots of ways to get and stay fit at home. If you thought it wasn't possible, it is!
And remember—every single step counts. It all adds up. At the end of the day, you'll have done more than you think.
- You don't need heavy weights. Here's the good news: Research shows that lifting lighter weights works just as well as lifting heavier ones—you just need to increase your repetitions. If you lift to the "point of exhaustion," experts say, it doesn't matter how heavy they are. I have three sets of weights at home—2, 3 and 5 pounds. They're stashed on an out-of-the-way shelf in my family room, close enough for me to grab while I binge watch The Crown or Goliath (love these!). Take a look at this set on Amazon. And here's a video I came across that shows Hoda Kotb doing three at-home exercises that look super-effective (and the trainer isn't bad, either).
- You can use what you have—you! Even if you're short on time—or equipment—you can still work out using your own body weight. A perfect example: a push-up. Here's one good example of a few effective moves. And here's another. I just bought myself this workout mat to cushion my hardwood floor. I unroll it in the morning while my coffee is brewing and do a few stretches to warm up my creaky joints and bring it out again some nights to get in some ab work and some relaxing stretches. I'm so happy I bought it—a small investment that's already paying big dividends.
- Consider a fitness tracker. Some people love them, and some can't see the point. Personally, wearing a fitness tracker makes me more aware of the need to move and get in as many steps as I can—and I know quite a few people who have lost massive amounts of weight and turned their sedentary lives into active ones, thanks to the gentle reminder that steps do matter. This is the one I use, but there are many variations on the style and price.
- Look around your house for opportunities. I remember when my sons first got their driver's licenses, and they took every opportunity to go out to do errands for me. (I used to joke that they'd go to get a dozen eggs—one egg at a time.) Does your house have stairs, counters, walls? Sure it does. You can strengthen your legs and get some aerobic benefit from the stairs; you can do push-ups against the kitchen counter (or a wall) while you wait for the water to boil; and you can do squats against the wall to strengthen your quadriceps and help stabilize and strengthen your lower body.
- Turn on the music. Lots of research has verified the positive effect that music has on exercise. For me, there's no question that I work out much harder and more enthusiastically when a great song is playing. (Maybe for you it's a podcast or a book on tape.) Whatever the variety, whatever the reason, it helps to have a "companion" along for the ride—just make sure that companion doesn't slow you down. There's some recent research that texting or talking on your phone while exercising lowers the intensity of your workout and increases your risk of injury. Here's an example of some good workout music from Fitness Magazine.
Need to reset your exercise mojo? Click here.
Or find out why strength training is so important (it's not only about great-looking arms).
Here's an article I wrote, way back when, after interviewing the late Jack LaLanne.
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net. Disclosure: MySoCalledMidlife is an Amazon affiliate, which means the author receives a small commission for any purchases made through her website.