Physical activity is important. If you’re someone who exercises regularly, you already know how great it makes you feel, both during the workout and for the rest of the day!
It has become common knowledge that staying physically active or maintaining some sort of exercise routine is one essential element of a healthy life, and even “reverses aging,” physically speaking. Sustained physical movement stimulates the release of feel-good hormones, increases functional capacity, burns fat, and boosts our confidence and overall well being. It also provides an opportunity to make new friends through connecting over being active.
As we age, physical activity, and especially resistance training, becomes increasingly critical to our health and ability to function healthily. Studies put forward from Harvard University, The New York Times, and many other reputable institutions and organizations support this claim. Resistance training is exercise that involves resistance to motion (like a push or pull) or using external weights or something that mimics external weights.
Of course, you don’t need to be an athlete to be fit or healthy. 20-30 minutes of activity 2-4 times per week is a good goal to shoot for, and anything is better than nothing!
6 exercises you can try from the comfort of your home
With the current emphasis on physical distancing, we are all being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid close physical contact with others. Being stuck at home doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your fitness or physical activity! There are lots of ways to work out and stay fit and active at home without any fitness equipment. Participating in 20-30 minutes of activity 2-4 times per week is a good goal to shoot for, and anything is better than nothing. Here are a few ways to get started!
Yoga is a very popular activity for people of all ages and abilities. It is a system of body movements, positions, poses and stances, combined with stretching, breathing practice and often meditation. There are various different kinds of yoga, ranging from very slow and meditative to very complex and active, but what they all have in common is that they require very minimal or no equipment and can be done at home. Read more about how to start a yoga routine at home.
Calisthenics are resistance and mobility exercises that use only your bodyweight instead of external weights. They are growing a lot in popularity partly because they can be done almost anywhere by almost anyone with very little or no equipment at all. Examples of calisthenics you can do anywhere are pushups, sit-ups, planks, squats, and lunges. You can search for specific calisthenics workout options on YouTube, which makes it easy to learn and follow along.
Isometric exercises are less common, and they seem a little funny, but they are the easiest resistance exercise to do anywhere. They involve pushing or pulling against an object that doesn’t move. So, for example, put your hands together in front of you, palm to palm, like a clap. Now push them against each other as hard as you can. Do you feel it in your arms and chest? Now do the opposite – link your fingers together and try to pull them apart. Do you feel it in your arms and shoulders and back? Now, if you can reach, try doing both those with your arms behind your back. These are isometric exercises! You can do isometrics with walls and floors and your own body and many other objects, anywhere at any time!
4. Using Household Objects
Resistance training can also easily be done at home by using household objects. Heavy books or bottles of wine or juice can be used as weights in your hands. Walking up and down the stairs is a great classic resistance exercise. Even something as simple as sitting down and standing back up repeatedly is an effective exercise. Get creative!
5. Walk, jog or run
Thankfully, we can still go outside as long as we continue to practice physical distancing. Jogging or running, on the sidewalk or in a park, are excellent ways to stay active. Even just walking has a lot of health benefits and is a great way to keep your body moving. Read more about the best fall hikes in Ontario.
Stretching is a great way to cool down after a workout. It feels great, and it helps with flexibility and stiffness. Start at your neck and work all the way down to your toes. Or, if you don’t have much time, focus on major areas like arms and legs. Don’t overdo it: Just extend until you feel it a light stretch and then hold it there for 30-60 seconds. Read more about 5 areas to stretch daily.
How to create your own routine
People often get hung up on how much of an exercise to do. Don’t worry about that for now. If you watch an online video you can just follow along until it’s done. If you want to create your own simple routine, pick 5-10 different movements from any category above, making sure to include movements that involve both legs and arms and then just do each one until you feel a bit tired or it starts to get a bit too difficult. Then move on to the next one. If it only takes you a few minutes to do them all, start again from the beginning. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, just repeat until you reach 5-10 minutes and then stop. Then do it again tomorrow!
Try this simple workout routine to get started
Set a timer for anywhere from 5-15 minutes. Then do each exercise below. When the exercise gets a bit too difficult, move on to the next one. Repeat until the timer goes off. If you’re feeling good, set the timer again!
Step One: Grab a heavy book in each hand and raise and lower them over your head
Step Two: Sit down on a chair and stand back up immediately
Step Three: Link your fingers tightly and pull your hands apart
Step Four: Jog on the spot
Step Five: Bend over as far as you can and then stand straight up again
Step Six: End with a walk outside and some light stretching.
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