Exercise of any kind can decrease stress and anxiety and improve sleep. It isn't always possible to do your workout outside, be it at a leisure centre or class, so this blog has lots of suggestions to help keep you moving at home.
Louise Baillie S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3 @ActiveLouise Ask Louise
24 March 2020
How can I exercise at home?
Exercising at home has the benefit that it is completely free, you can do it at a time that suits and there is no one else to measure your abilities against. Instead, you can do as much as you want, whenever you want.
Now, you may not know where to start when exercising at home so here are my top tips to get you started:
Follow an exercise video
Do some lifting
Move around the garden
Stretch your body
Follow an easy exercise routine
Have a tidy up
Try chair exercises
Play a game
Use your stairs
1. Follow an online exercise video
With an array of technology at our fingertips, it now easier than ever to practice a whole variety of exercises.
YouTube is a good source of exercise videos, with everything from beginner's workouts, to specific activities like yoga. Notable fitness-focused YouTubers include Joe Wicks, whose fun but challenging workouts can get the whole family involved. His morning P.E sessions, which come live from his living room at 9 am from Monday to Friday, are a particularly good way to get kids and adults moving.
If you can't make it out of your house to your usual exercise class, ask your instructor if it is possible to use Zoom – a video conferencing platform. Your instructor can set up a camera in front of them, thus making it possible to follow the workout at home. Zoom is an app that can be download to your phone or installed on your computer.
As well as Zoom, there are a vast range of other fitness apps that provide workouts to follow at home. Simply search 'fitness apps' into your phone's app store to find ones that are suitable for your device.
Finally, you can create your own circuits session by following a few of our exercise videos one after the other, for example:
You can do as many of these as you like, and in whatever order you like. For even more variety, you can check out all our exercise videos on our YouTube playlist below:
2. Do some lifting
Now, some of us may be lucky enough to have weights lying around - perhaps under a pile of dust in the garage, or tucked away at the bottom of the wardrobe! If this is the case for you, give them a wipe and get started with some simple weight-lifting exercises.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms by your sides and a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your arms straight, raise them up to your shoulders until you are standing in a T-shape. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Next, keep your arms straight and raise them above your head. Hold this position for another 5-10 seconds, remembering to count slowly and breathe in and out deeply. Slowly lower your hands to your sides, rest and then repeat the whole exercise a few times. If you are new to strength exercises, I would recommend that you do not lift more than 4kg to start with in order to avoid injury.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Your palms should be facing forwards with a weight in each. Bend your elbows to bring the weights to your shoulders and then lower them back to your sides. You should repeat this movement 10 times and then rest. Try to increase the speed of your movements the more you do it, or do one arm at a time for more variety.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms by your sides and a dumbbell in each hand. Lunge forward with your right leg and lower your left leg towards the ground at the same time. Return to a standing position, using your right heel to push yourself back up. Repeat the exercise with your left leg, rest, and then do it all once more.
Now, if you don't have any weights lying around, household items such as coffee jars, pet food, tins and books all work just as well.
3. Get dancing
This can be as simple as putting on some music that makes you happy, then dancing freely around your living room. If you'd feel more comfortable with a bit of guidance, however, YouTube is a great source of dance videos. It has everything from Latin to Hip Hop so it is a great way to try something new!
The app TikTok also provides dance challenges. These usually suggest making up a dance to a chosen song, or copying a dance from a music video. It is a bit of fun and a great way to get moving at home.
If you have access to a garden, you can play hide and seek with the kids, do some gardening, brush the front step, clean windows, clear out the shed or any number of activities. All of these get your body moving, as well as helping to tick things off the 'to do' list!
5. Stretch your body
For those looking to do a low impact activity, stretching is ideal. You can follow the graphic below for a short workout but, even if you only do a couple of movements to start with, that's fine!
I'd recommend using these stretches to break up long periods of sitting and, if the activities are a little hard on your joints, put down a yoga mat, a few towels or rug to provide some cushioning.
6. Follow these easy routines!
These exercises are a mix of cardio and stretching. Make sure you have plenty of space around you before beginning.
To start, get into the plank position. If you don't know how to do this, take a look at our video. Bring your right leg towards your chest, return to the plank position and then bring your left leg to your chest. Repeat these movements for 30 seconds.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended forwards. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor and then straighten up. Do this for 30 seconds, taking care to keep your back straight.
Stand up straight with your fists clenched in front of your chest. Next, imagine there is a big pipe on the ground and you have to jump over it to the left and then the right. Keep your feet together and keep jumping for 30 seconds.
7. Have a tidy up
Cleaning and housework are surprisingly good ways to burn calories and keep your body moving. Just remember, however, that the body gets used to doing the same activities after a period of time, meaning you'll have to do additional ones to reap the physical benefits.
So, if you are looking for ways to workout at home, this may be the perfect opportunity to give the kitchen cupboards a clear out, to move your furniture and clean underneath, to scrub the windows or tidy the bookshelf!
8. Try chair exercises
For something a bit lighter, try some simple chair exercises.
Whilst sitting, put your arms straight out in front with your palms facing towards the ground. Now use your feet to push yourself out the chair, taking care to ensure your arms remain extended outwards as you do. Sit back down and then repeat the movement 10 times.
Sit on the edge of your chair with your back straight. Hold onto the sides of your chair. Lift your right leg towards your chest as far as it will go then slowly lower it back to the ground. Repeat the movement with your left leg. Do 5 lifts with each leg.
Start with your arms by your side, palms facing forwards. Lift your arms up as far as they will go and then return them to your sides. Repeat another 5 times.
9. Play a game
Now, if you have kids or grandchildren about (or even if you don't!) you may be familiar with active video games such as the Wii Fit. Again, this is a super way to get the whole family moving.
However, you don't have to have a fancy games console to move around and have fun. If there's a few of you, try games including Twister, Charades and even Simon Says!
10. Use your stairs
The easiest way to exercise on the stairs is to run/walk up them a few times – say 10 times morning, afternoon and evening in addition to what you'd normally do. Besides running and walking up the stairs a few times, you can also use your stairs (or the front/back step) to practice step-ups.
To do this, step up with your right leg (your foot should be flat on the step) and then bring your left leg up so that the toe just touches the step. Step down with your left foot and then the right. Do this 10 times, as quickly or as slowly as you like.
Top tips for exercising at home:
To help make exercise at home a regular feature, here are a few of my top tips:
Set up a routine
Plan your day (see the template below for guidance) – you could do a quick online exercise video before work or at lunch time, for example
Give yourself some reasonable challenges to meet – even if that's as simple as getting up 30 minutes earlier than normal to work out
Avoid long periods sitting – move every hour or so.
30-minute cardio workout
30 minutes of aerobics
45-minute online yoga session
Gardening (1 hour)
Strength training with homemade weights (30 minutes)