Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
How to Work Out at Home
Paying a monthly fee for a health club membership can put a significant dent in your budget. Plus, you don't know what you'll be exposed to when you work out in a gym. You could end up with a cold, the flu, or even COVID after your visit, enough to offset the health benefits you got from exercising.
Plus, there are advantages to working out at home sweet home. You don't have to fight for a parking place or equipment, and you can do it on your own time and schedule. Once you decide joining a health club isn't for you, what are the alternatives for exercising outside of a health club in a less structured environment?
1. Grab Some Resistance Bands
People underestimate what you can do with resistance bands. You can do all the exercises you do with dumbbells or a barbell using resistance bands and others too.
Plus, bands offer some advantages that dumbbells and barbells don't. When you work out with weights, the force drops off at the top of the movement. Think of a biceps curl; at the top of the movement, the resistance falls to zero and your muscles don't have to work as hard.
That's not true of resistance bands. As you stretch the bands, the tension increases as you approach the peak of the movement. You never get that drop-off that reduces the force on your muscles, so they work throughout the entirety of the exercise. Plus, studies show you can get the same muscle development working with bands as with weights.
What’s not to love about resistance bands? They’re versatile, portable, and affordable. You can get a full workout with them and storing them takes little room. You can’t say that about a treadmill!
2. Ride a Bike
Why not turn errands into exercise? Rather than jumping into the car to do local errands, hop on a bike instead. Pedaling burns more calories than pressing your foot on an accelerator and it's better for your heart. Use your bike for recreational exercise too.
Tap into the other benefits of a cycling workout too. When you ride a bike outdoors, you get contact with nature, fresh air, vitamin D, and movement. Plus, riding a bicycle can burn up to 500 calories per hour. You won't get that when you travel around in a car. Be sure to wear a helmet though!
3. Head to a Park
A park is like an outdoor gym; you've got monkey bars for pull-ups and bar hangs, benches for doing push-ups and triceps dips, and a swing set for fun afterward. You can even do step-ups on the rungs of a sliding board.
Mix things up for more challenge and variety! Run around the park a few times, do a set of push-ups or dips, and keep repeating. It's a heart-pumping workout that delivers fitness benefits and you get a dose of fresh air and sunshine too.
Another reason exercising in a park is so beneficial is that it gives you the opportunity to socialize and meet new people. If you’re exercising by yourself, you can still meet other people who are doing the same thing and strike up a conversation.
4. Free Online Exercise Videos and Apps
There's a wealth of free videos on YouTube and other video sites that will guide you through a structured workout. Take your pick: yoga, aerobics, high-intensity interval training, kickboxing, step training, spin class, circuit workouts, strength training, stretching, or plyometrics. It's all online and you can do each one in the privacy of your own home. You can also download workout apps and timers for your workouts.
Fitness apps provide an easy and convenient way to work out. You can use them to track your progress, set goals, and monitor your fitness gains. Plus, you can create custom workouts, and with some, get feedback from certified trainers. Additionally, fitness apps can help you stay motivated and accountable.
Dancing is a creative form of self-expression, but it can also be an intense form of exercise. Few workouts offer so many benefits at once. When you dance with intensity, you boost your heart rate, build stamina, increase muscle endurance, build stronger bones, and improve agility and coordination.
Plus, dancing offers brain health benefits too. A study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews found that dancing boosts communication between hemispheres in the brain and helps the brain form new nerve connections, thereby enhancing brain health.
What kind should you choose? Most forms of dancing offer fitness benefits. Ballet is ideal for enhancing flexibility, agility, and muscle endurance, but you can also turn up your favorite music and dance freestyle. It's a terrific way to relieve stress after a long day too.
Now You Know How to Work Out Without the Gym
There you have it; five ways to get a workout without joining a gym. You can do some of these exercises without leaving your home, and others have the added benefit of exposing you to nature.
Vary the workouts you do to maximize the fitness benefits and avoid boredom. For example, switch up the exercise videos and apps you use. You might discover that working out at home is the most fun of all.
- Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Volume 96, January 2019, Pages 232-240.
- SAGE Open Med. 2019; 7: 2050312119831116. Published online 2019 Feb 19. doi: 10.1177/2050312119831116.
- Boston Magazine. "20 Exercises You Can Do in a Park"
- "Real-Life Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity." 03 Apr. 2020, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/real-life-benefits-exercise-and-physical-activity.
- "Exercise & Fitness - Harvard Health." https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/exercise-and-fitness.
- Ruegsegger GN, Booth FW. Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2018 Jul 2;8(7):a029694. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029694. PMID: 28507196; PMCID: PMC6027933.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.