Exercise at home with our handy guide to keeping physically fit during lockdown. Cocktail bars may be closed, but protein shakes are still readily available…
Yes, 2021 hasn’t exactly got off to a great start (oh hey, lockdown), but that’s no reason to let our health regimes slip; we still need to keep our minds sharp and our bodies well looked after.
As such, in the spirit of New Year, we’ve come up with our list (in no particular order) of the best ways to exercise at home without access to the gym.
Whether you’re a fitness novice or an expert athlete, here are a range of accessible activities you can try — perfect for performing solo or in larger groups (within guidelines, of course).
Let’s start simple.
While not technically ‘exercise at home’, walking is a pastime many people will have done aplenty over the past year — we know we have.
If you’re still yet to join the craze or have fallen off the wagon (guilty as charged), it’s never too late to put your walking boots on and head out the door.
And this doesn’t have to be an isolated part of your day. Start developing sustainable habits. For example, opting to walk to the shops instead of jumping in the car is a simple but effective way to get you up on your feet.
Once you’ve built up a moderate level of fitness, running is a great progressive step to take your aerobic exercise to the next level.
Running has a positive impact on your health, improving muscle development, cardiovascular fitness, and bone strength.
And this form of exercise has also been attributed to alleviating depression and, of course, stimulating weight loss.
When thinking of ways to get fit, we imagine that scrubbing the windows isn’t what initially pops to mind. But it really should…
Cleaning is a vastly underrated way to exercise at home. It’s productive and a surprisingly high calorie burner, providing similar benefits to circuit training at the gym.
Of course, a five-minute dusting isn’t quite going to cut it. But if you’ve got some vigorous chores that need doing, such as giving the floors a thorough vacuum or shovelling compost in the garden, half an hour a day can make all the difference to your body.
And if you want to step things up a notch, put the hoover away and get sweeping with the brush. The smallest changes can have the biggest impact.
Night clubs are still a way off, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your groove on. All you need to dance are some solid tunes and a safe space to let your moves shine.
There are various video guides available online to help you refine your technique. Just type in your preferred dancing proficiency (hip hop, Zumba, ballet, etc.), and start working your body.
YouTube is a popular platform to begin your search, but there are also plenty of home videos out there to purchase if you’re willing to invest some cash.
If you want to exercise at home with an emphasis on improving flexibility, yoga is something almost anyone can get involved in. All you need is a sturdy yoga mat, an empty floor, and a can-do attitude.
There are various types of yoga, from positions for beginners to Insta-worthy feats, so you can choose what best suits you and your body.
If you’re not sure where to start, ‘Yoga With Adriene’ is a popular channel on YouTube, suitable for beginners.
Additionally, if you miss social interaction, there are also various online classes where you can interact with others while developing your yoga abilities.
Kickboxing has become an increasingly popular way to exercise at home, adding a boatload of fun to what is otherwise an intense workout.
Combining a series of jabs, squats, jumps, and more, it’s easy to see why this one is such a calorie burner. Practically every muscle in your body will activate during the back-to-back drills, including arms, legs, back, shoulder, and abs.
All you need is a solid routine (which are easy to find online) and an open space.
7. Bodyweight Exercises
Exercise at home has become less common nowadays, with more people relying on the expensive machinery available in commercial gyms. Thankfully, working out is free — no matter what they would like you to think.
So, what do we do without that beloved bench press? How are we supposed to get our pectorals looking pristine? Well, bodyweight exercises are here to help.
There are almost limitless variations of exercises to perform, from press-ups, to squats, to pull-ups, and more.
All these basic disciplines tend to have variations on the core exercise, catered to beginners and veterans. For example, press-ups can be performed traditionally, on your knees, with one arm, or in a million more positions of varying difficulty.
If you’ve got a moderate-sized garden or living room, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good way to keep your fitness levels up.
In essence, HIIT is about going all out in short bursts and drawing energy from your anaerobic pathways, which produce large amounts of lactic acid — the stuff that makes your muscles ache.
Many people confuse this with simply training hard, such as in traditional interval training, but HIIT is a whole other level of physical exertion; you should have nothing left to give by the time the clock stops ticking.
Likewise, when the timer is done (usually around 20 seconds or so), recovery time should reflect the effort you’ve just put in and allow your energy supplies to recuperate for another round. For example, in a 20-second burst, you might allow yourself upwards of 60 seconds to recover.
Cardio is commonly used in HIIT, but you can also exercise at home with weight training (if you have the necessary equipment).
9. Weight Training
If you’re fond of building muscle but don’t know what to do now that the gyms are closed, worry not. There are a variety of strength-training exercises that can be done without the need for a dozen machines and hundreds of plates.
Namely, if you have a basic set of dumbbells (just one is also sufficient), there are ways of increasing difficulty, even if the weight is lower than what you would normally train with.
For example, a simple set of resistance bands applied in the correct position can — as the name would imply — increase the resistance, allowing you to perform heavier lifts.
Alternatively, you can gain muscle by simply improving your form. Many gym-goers, even those who have been training for years, suffer from poor form. And when the gyms are shut, there’s no better time to practise with lower weights, enabling you to train even harder once they reopen.
As we grow into fully functioning adults, there is a tendency to avoid activities that are fun, simply because they’re popular with children. We like to make things a chore for, seemingly, no apparent reason.
Well, we call nonsense to that and say let’s get those trampolines back in the garden. It doesn’t have to be a big one, mind you; a little one is equally sufficient.
Once you’ve got it all set up, it’s your choice where to go from there. Various workouts exist online, but it’s also just as valid to have a bounce for a laugh.
Go on — let your hair down!