Your local gym likely has no shortage of equipment: stair machines, rowers, bench presses, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals–you name it. But the truth is that you don’t actually need all of that gear just to work up a sweat. In fact, you can easily and effectively exercise at home. And you might even be healthier for it.
Significant Benefits of Exercise at Home
Most people think of exercise as a kind of weight loss strategy. As such, they typically categorize the benefits of regular activity in a physical sense: you get strong muscles or a slender waist.
But the reality is that exercise is good for you in many ways. Some of the most profound benefits of exercise at home or at the gym include the following:
- Mental health benefits: It’s not just your body that’ll thank you for moving, it’s your brain, too! Exercise can increase dopamine, adrenaline, and endorphin production in a way that helps you feel relaxed and improves your mood. As a result, exercise can help you cope with stress and even lower your risk for developing depression.
- Improved bone health: Regular exercise can help slow the loss of bone density as you age. That’s because exercise triggers a response in your body that diverts resources to building bone density. Improved bone density can make you more resistant to breaks and fractures–or help those injuries heal more quickly when they do occur.
- Cardio system health: Your cardio system–your heart and your lungs–are also made stronger even by mild exercise. Staying active can significantly lower your risk of heart diseases and improve circulation throughout your body. (It won’t hurt that regular exercise will also lower your blood pressure, too.)
- Other health benefits: There are plenty of other health benefits to exercise, too–benefits you might not consider at first. For example, your immune system will usually function better. And you’ll significantly lower your risk of pressure wounds. If you sit all day, you may develop sores on your leg from the constant contact. Exercise can help you avoid those issues.
For most people, weight loss may not be the primary goal of working out. Instead, achieving these health benefits–which don’t necessarily require weight loss–can be all the reason you need to make sure your body moves a little every day. The benefits of exercise at home come mainly from keeping your body moving–not necessarily from achieving a certain level of athletic performance.
But How Do You Exercise Without Equipment?
At the gym, you have access to treadmills, free weights, and ellipticals. What does exercise without that equipment look like?
Luckily, there are many ways to work out that don’t involve any kind of machine. Some of the most effective ways to exercise at home include the following.
Use Your Body as Your Weight
You don’t need barbells and bench presses to effectively create muscle. When you’re exercising at home, you can simply use your own body weight to build strength. For example, you can do:
- Push ups: Traditional push ups are a great way to start building muscle. But you don’t have to stick to just one type of push up. If you need something a bit easier, you could try doing your pushups with your knees on the ground. If you need more of a challenge or want to work different muscle groups, try including some push up variations in your workout.
- Plank: Strengthening your core can be great for building your overall strength. And one of the best ways to build those core muscles is by doing a plank. Just put your weight on your forearms, stretch your legs out behind you and see how long you can hold that position.
- Squats: While they might feel like a pain in the butt, squats are a great way to build muscle in your back and legs. Squats can be performed with or without weight, depending on how much of a challenge you want. And better yet, because they require so little room, you can do squats basically anywhere.
There are tons of variations on all these exercises, which means there are many ways to push yourself should any of these particular workouts become too easy.
Get Your Cardio
You don’t need a gym to get your cardio in. You can just take a quick run around your neighborhood! You don’t have to train for a marathon, but here are some things you can do:
- Go for a light, easy jog. Not every cardio activity needs to be the equivalent of a spin class. Use a workout app on your phone to track your distance.
- Take a walk in the evening! Or, better yet, take a few min-walks throughout the course of your day. If you’ve got a dog, you’ve already got a great reason to get a few steps in (Fido needs exercise, too).
- Walk up and down your stairs. The idea is to keep your body moving throughout the day, so even a few flights of stairs can be great.
Just walking for a few hours a week can reduce your mortality risks. That walk can include everything as mundane as getting a cup of coffee or making dinner–as long as you’re walking!
Keep Your Body Moving
Let’s forget about the gym for a minute. The reason why exercising at home is so important is because we live in a world that doesn’t really nudge you into moving. And new research is detailing just how important that constant movement is to increasing your lifespan and quality of life.
So you can think about exercising at home like this: just keep moving. Move whenever you can. If you can walk to work instead of driving, you’ll feel so much better for it. Or if you work from home, make sure to get up every now and again to thoughtfully pace around your office or living room. Do that, and you’ll get all the benefits of exercise at home.
Get Your Workout In at Home
Home-based workouts are here to stay. But, as always, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what your options are–and about what’s healthy for your body. You should check in with your primary care doctor before exercising if you haven’t been active in a while. Your physician will be able to give you recommendations regarding how to get your body moving and get your exercise in. At Progressive Health Primary Care, these visits are covered by your membership!
If you have questions about exercise at home, and about what the benefits for you might be, contact our offices to schedule a meeting with us!