No gym membership? No exercise equipment at home? Bad weather?
There are plenty of household items you can find to help you move, get fit, and stay healthy.
“There are a lot of things you can do without equipment in a small space using just your body for exercise,” said Lucie Silver, exercise physiologist with Helen DeVos Spectrum Health Children’s Hospital. “It can be effective in burning fuel and building strength and endurance.”
Silver offers advice to children and adults.
“A good place to start is to try and do it a little bit at a time,” she said. “And build from there.”
Seven household items to start today:
1. Your body
Yeah. That is true. All you need is your body and some motivation.
“You can do all kinds of exercise where you don’t need it,” Silver said.
Squats, jumping jacks, lunges, sit-ups or crunches, push-ups, planks, side-to-side and front-to-back jumps, burpees and more.
Silver suggests referring to the online videos to learn the proper form.
Chair squats are a great way to improve fitness while teaching the basics of squats. This way when you do squats later without a chair, you will have the right form.
Find a folding chair or straight-back chair. Slowly sit down in the chair, using your quadriceps muscles to sit up, then stand up completely and repeat this process for 30 seconds. Take a break and try again for 30 seconds.
As you gain strength and stamina, you can try the same, but using one leg.
Rest one leg on the floor and stand up using the opposite leg. Use your resting foot for balance if necessary. Make sure your knee is not past your toe. Change legs after 30 seconds.
A staircase can provide a great cardio workout, Silver said. Ideally, try to find one with at least 12 steps.
Go up and down the stairs using the handrail to keep your balance. Try to repeat five times.
“You want to make your heart beat,” she said.
If you want to add a challenge, skip a step as you go up, but be careful while you do.
You can also stand at the bottom of the stairs and go up and down – one foot up, then the other up, then down. Another vigorous variation is a box jump: up and down with both feet together on the bottom step, Silver said.
Find a broom, put it on the ground and jump over it. Turn around and repeat.
The broomstick provides a good visual for jumping over, said Silver. Jump for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat.
5. Soup cans
Soup cans work as a substitute for light weights.
To use them for a bicep curl, hold a can in each hand and bend your arms at a 90-degree angle with your elbows at your sides. Hold your right arm still as you wrap your left arm against your shoulder, then down to the side. Repeat 15 to 20 times, then switch arms.
6. Milk jugs
If you’re looking for something a little heavier, milk jugs or laundry detergent bottles might work, Silver said. Simply fill them with water until they reach the desired weight.
To use them for a top row, hold a jug in each hand by the handle. One at a time, lift the jug up to your chin.
For bicep curls, hold a jug in each hand by the handle and place your arms straight out to the sides. One arm at a time, lift the jug, bending the arm at the elbow. Lower and repeat about 15-20 times. Rest, then complete another set.
For a good exercise that benefits your entire lower body, look at the seated wall.
And all you need is a wall.
Stand with your back flat against the wall. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, then about 2 feet from the wall. Slide your back along the wall, tightening your stomach muscles, until your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
Your knees should be directly above your ankles, not in front of them. Hold the position for as long as you can, about 30 to 60 seconds. If you can’t do 30 seconds, start with 10 to 15 seconds and work your way up to 30 consecutive seconds.
When you’re done, slowly slide your back along the wall to stand up while leaning against the wall.
Whichever method you choose, it is an exercise worth doing. Silver encourages everyone, children and adults alike, to find a way to get moving and get your heart pumping.
“The hardest part is just getting started,” she says.