Let’s face it… sometimes the motivation to get up and drive to the local gym to get in our workout is just lacking. Sometimes we just don’t have time in our hectic schedule to fit it in. Maybe, as recent times have been, we are discouraged from being out in public. Whatever your reason (or excuse) is for not getting to the gym, don’t let it discourage you from keeping your body and mind happy and healthy. Let’s see if we can discover some ways to get active in the comfort of our own home! Who needs a fancy gym anyway…
Your core is a vital part of your every day life. It helps you keep your center of balance, generate energy for every movement, as well as help your body assume proper posture to prevent or even alleviate certain pains. If you don’t have time for a big workout or if you don’t know where to begin, the core is always a good place to start. A lot of people assume the core is that fancy “6-pack” shown off in pictures of body builders, but the truth is there are many other muscles involved in keeping your body strong from the inside out. These muscles range from your shoulders add ribs all the way down to your knees. Here are some fun exercises to engage your core:
Good ol’ planks. When performing these, make sure to keep your stomach tight and your body in a straight line; don’t let your back dip down or your rear stick way up in the air. Keep your breathing smooth and controlled. Variations to normal forearm planks are straight arm planks, T-planks, side planks with a leg raise, and reverse planks.
Rockers focus on those pelvic stabilizers (known as the pelvic floor) and the oblique abdominal muscles. Lay on your back with knees and hips bent to 90 degrees. Hold hands together, arms extended straight up in the air. Begin to rock your arms and shoulders from side to side while keeping your knees and hips stationary. Remember to keep that stomach tight and keep breathing! Rockers can be progressed to Russian twists.
Bridges strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and back muscles, as well as the pelvic floor. Lay on your back with knees bent and feet firmly on the ground about 12 inches away from your rear, arms flat on the ground at your side. Raise your hips up in the air to make a flat “bridge” from your shoulders to your knees. From here you can either hold for a second or two, then lower back to the ground slowly and repeat, or you can hold for about 20-30 seconds, then lower back to the ground.
Squats are very good for strengthening your back muscles, glutes, quadriceps, and calf muscles. Technique is very important to make sure the correct muscles are strengthened in the correct position. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward. If available, use a mirror to watch your technique from the front and from the side. From the front, as you squat, keep shoulders and chest up, knees should stay wide over the toes throughout the entire motion down and back up, and keep weight evenly dispersed over both legs. From the side, hips should shift back like you are sitting back into a chair, knees should be behind your toes. You can put your toes up against a wall to practice keeping your knees back.
For more specific examples of core exercises, see our video at the end of this post.
Cardio is a great way to get a whole body workout in a short amount of time. In a shortened version, cardio makes a great warm up prior to a specialized workout like upper body, lower body, or core. Cardio typically involves the whole body working together as one unit.
A cardio workout may include running, jumping, kicking, or punching. Young parents may find that running around the yard with the kids or dog is one way to get that blood pumping as well as get those little ones up and moving! There are lots of different ways to play tag or chase. Participating in imagination play is not only fun, but also beneficial to a child’s development. Run and jump over bad guys or beat them with your super ninja skills! Homemade obstacle courses have become more popular as well and the kids LOVE them! If you don’t have children or your kiddos are out of that imagination stage, try challenging them to a competition. See who can do more laps around the yard, jumping jack burpees, or maybe even who can complete that homemade obstacle course the fastest. If you get creative, there are so many options for you and your family to get your body moving.
Another fun activity, whether with your family or by yourself, is dancing games like Just Dance, Dance Central, Everybody Dance, and so on. There are so many options and if you have access to YouTube, there are so many more dancing videos you can access for free!
If you are used to lifting weights or want to start, there are ways to get creative around the house without getting fancy weights or weight machines. You may find homemade weights in any room of the house! A gallon of milk or water weighs about 8 1/2 pounds; a can of beans is almost one pound. A large book may be used as round weight. Most small children love being picked up, hoisted into the air or over a shoulder and squated. The couch can be used as an incline or decline to decrease or increase exercise difficulty.
Next time you are home, unable or unmotivated to go to the gym, look around; get creative. Find an accountability partner to help keep you motivated. Play/dance with the kids or pets; challenge your older kids, spouse, or roommate to a competition. Your options are endless! Just don’t forget to breath, keep that good technique and have fun!