5 exercises that you can do at home without hitting the gym mat

by Helen

If you read my post on my experience hitting the gym mat, then you will know that I don’t go the gym anymore.  Staying healthy and active is one of my “must do” to have a quality and happy life. Without the gym, I found alternative solutions to keep myself in a healthy shape.  The thought of not seeing the eye candies depressed me for about 5 minutes then I reminded myself why I didn’t want to gym. What was it again? Ah yes! The sweat and gym smell. Alternative solutions it is.

One of the things that I am good at is researching. I can spend hours looking up stuffs and playing detective. So, after many hours of researching in various medical articles as well as advice from my trusted nutritionist Ariell, I found my 5 alternative exercises that would keep my heart rate up and my muscle toned. My criteria for selecting the exercise was: it must be enjoyable. Life is too short not to enjoy every moment of it. With a little bit of imagination, creativity and new perspective, you can shift your mindset to enjoy activities that you aren’t normally enjoyed.

Getting back to my alternative exercises selection. Apart from the fact that weight training and gym machines are not the ideal fitness solutions for me due to my health condition, I also don’t like the fact that I have to make the time to get to the gym. It feels like a chore instead of a lifestyle that I can truly enjoy.

Most scientific, medical and fitness articles that I came across indicated that you can get healthy by doing exercise at home. The key thing is that you do something active, somewhere, sometime and be consistent about it.  Most experts agreed that it shouldn’t take much effort or money to design an effective workout program at home.

Things like fit balls, dumbbells, exercise bands or tubing, and push-up bars are an inexpensive way to create a routine that works all the major muscle groups in your body. Seriously, even with no props or expensive work out machines, you can build muscles and burn calories with all the information that available on the internet. Bless YouTube!

5 Components of an effective workout

Based on my research, an effective fitness program has five components. The fabulous news is you can accomplish these 5 components by working out in the comfort and cleanliness environment of your home. I still can’t stand the sweat even when the guy is Brat Pitt. I could change my mind if the guy is Christian Bale though. Below are the 5 components to have in an effective fitness program:

  1. A warmup. This can be as easy as a quick walk around your neighborhood. If you have a treadmill or a stationary bike at home, feel free to slowly and steady walk for 10 minutes.
  2. A cardiovascular (aerobic) workout. For the cardiovascular portion of your fitness routine, walk or pedal faster if you prefer walking outside on a treadmill. Now, if you want to feel a bit sexier, try step aerobics with a video. Feeling more courageous and pushing your boundary a bit more, try jumping rope. The key is to get your heart rate up while doing something you enjoy. I prefer a speed walking while tightening my butt muscle. Yes, a shapely butt appeals to the superficial woman in me. There I admit it.
  3. Resistance, strength-building exercises. This is the component of the fitness routine that can make you say: Ouch! I did and many times. Resistance exercise can be as simple as squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches if you want to really tighten up certain body muscles. I have been doing consistent abdominal crunches to build more strength on my lower body (also known as my muffin top). If these “ouch worthy” exercises don’t appeal to you, try workout with small dumbbells, a weight bar, bands or tubing. The objective of this portion of exercise is muscle strength and toning to protect your joints from injury.
  4. Bend it like Beckham – flexibility moves. This portion is where you can increase your flexibility with floor stretches or yoga poses. Love my tree and warrior poses!
  5. Time for a cooldown. You start with a warm up and so you must end with a cool down! The same exercises that you use to warm your body up can be used to cool it down. If you still feeling sexy, you can also use cardiovascular work routine (aka: step aerobics) at a low level to bring the heart rate down to a resting state. Step lightly on it, ladies.

 How did I get started?

Well, I learned a good lesson from my gym experience so I listened my body this time. To start, I aimed for 35 minutes of cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise and I did them consistently at least three times a week.

In addition, I spent 20 to 30 minutes of strength work and also for three times a week. I tried to have three sets of 10-15 repetitions of each strength exercise to make sure I targeted all major muscle groups. One thing to keep in mind is to cover all major muscle groups such as your upper body, lower body, abdominal and back. By working to improve all these major muscle groups, you can build up the strength for your entire body (not just one or two parts) and protecting all your joints.

I used to have really bad back pains (one of many health issues that I used to have) but regular exercise and healthier and selective dietary have reduced my pains and aches substantially.  I still have lot of work to make my muffin top disappear but I am not in a hurry. Enjoy my workout is more important than excess weight on my tummy. I have been slowly increasing the length and repetition of the exercises as my muscles strengthen and can tolerate more exercising.

Now I will sound like a yoga instructor, but I want to leave you my first advice: stay focus on the muscles that you want to work on. Then feel it. If you are doing the abs crunches and yet you feel tightness it in your neck, then STOP. Do a quick scan of your body and let your body tell you what you should do next. I can’t say enough about the important of staying tune with your body.

My 5 most enjoyable workout routine

I set out to create my own enjoyable workout routine and I did. Here are my 5 absolute favourite workout alternatives:

1 – Long walks.

Why jump on a treadmill when you can take a walk in a trail?  Apart from walking, I can also enjoy the scenery and talk to people. I also dragged Karen into walking with me. Truth be told, she needed it more than me. When the weather permitted, we walked and we took mini-me (my niece) with us.  She rode her bike while Karen and I tried to catch up with her. I am telling you, this exercise beats jumping rope anytime and the little mini-me can bike fast. Hello aerobics workout!

The enjoyable part is talking and sharing the moment with people I love.  It is also very educational for mini-me because she constantly asks about flowers, plants and other things that she spots on the trail. So, Karen and I know quite a bit about wild flowers, plants and insects.

A pet also makes great walking companion. It is good for you and your pet. Long walk is not only good exercise but it is a great method to clear your mind.  Whenever I was stressed out or went through a tough time, long walks did amazing thing to give me clarity and declutter my mind.

2 – Swimming time.

Swimming is a really good exercise because you can work all major muscle groups. When you swim, you will engage all parts of your body into a rhythm, and you can set the pace as will. So, check out your neighborhood’s community center or a privately run pool.

3 – Playing time.

Just for fun and testing out a theory, I wore a health watch while playing with mini-me. After 30 minutes with her, I burned 200 calories. Seriously, all we did was run around the kitchen and wrestled a bit. She won the wrestling match though.  I had a lot of fun with her and we created lasting bond.

Karen is certain that my niece loves me more than her mother because I am her most reliable source of ice cream, bubble tea and cake supply but I think it is the time that we spend together. The laughter and the memories we share, and that worth a lot more than a few calories to me. So, instead of making time for the gym, spend the time to play with your kids, nieces or nephews.  It is a win – win, I tell you.

 4 – YouTube!

There are tons and tons of content creators on YouTube who provide free exercise videos. I was livid and almost kicked my own butt because I paid CAD$1000 for something I could get free of charge! $0 instead of $1000. Some of my favourite YouTube exercise routines come from Fitness Blender. I use their workout videos extensively when old man winter visited Canada and I couldn’t do outside walk. For you yogis, try YogaTX, and Yoga with Adriene.  They are my morning go-to channels.

 5 – Home gym.

Got ya! I didn’t spend money to build a home gym. I got a set of 5 lbs dumb bell for $4 at a garage sale. Best $4 spent ever! During the winter, my lazy day or when I was short on time, I stuck to a 5 minutes jumping jack, 20 squats, 20 lunges, 5 minutes arm muscle work with my $4 dumbbell and a 45 seconds planks. I repeated the routine as many as my time or lazy body permitted. If you don’t want to spend $4 (which I did for about 3 months) you can use water bottles. I know it will work because I used water bottles as weight for 3 months.

My last tips for home exercisers

My last 2 cents on home exercises and I hope you find them useful:

Challenge yourself and select the exercise that you will enjoy.

At home, you won’t have access to equipment, class’s instructor or pricey private trainer that are available at a gym. So do your research and make sure you get the good set of exercises routine that you can enjoy. I find YouTube videos very useful because I am a visual learner. Seeing the correct postures that the experts demonstrated in their video helped me optimizing my workout and prevented me from injuries.

Find an exercise partner.

You will be more motivated if you work out with a partner. Karen and mini-me are my endearing partners in my getting healthy crime.

Schedule your workouts.

I typically set a 30 minute workout to wake my body up then I work out after my dinner. Regardless of the time of the day, give yourself time to rejuvenate your body and mind. It is my little blissful moment that I look forward to everyday.

Set workout goals for yourself.

Goals help to motivate you because it is something you can’t do right now, but you know is within your reach. My goal is 2 inches of my waist and then I will reward myself with this gorgeous yellow and white summer dress that I have been eyeing. A little pick me up is a good way to make me move my butt.

Exercise is a lifestyle commitment.

You have to think of it as a lifestyle commitment and an on-going component of having a happy life. It doesn’t end when you get a nice abs or butt, it continues. Get out of the mindset that exercise is something you are only going to do for a period of time. Repetition and continuation! Like eating healthy, this journey goes on.

Ok, I will end my rambling here. Do you exercise at home? Please share your home gym idea. I love to learn from your getting healthy journey and more importantly good home gym ideas.

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1 comment

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