It is true that some fitness gear can speed you on your way to reaching your fitness goals but when you get down to the fundamentals of getting fit, you have all you need in yourself.
Gymnastic exercise – the type you probably did at school – is at the heart of Calisthenics. These are exercises that use simple movements to help you gain body strength and flexibility. They use the resistance of your own body weight to provide a good workout, and as such are good for beginners.
You can get fit at home and make your own home workout by easily combining any of the following exercises.
- Jumping Jacks. Remember these? They’re a good warm up routine and they’re great for cardio. Expert Village video coming up:
- Lunges. These are a good leg workout. From a standing position, take a large step forward with one leg and bend that front knee until it is at a right angle to the floor. Bend the rearward knee close to the floor without touching. Stand up and repeat with the other leg.
- Sit-ups. Excellent for toning abdominal muscle. Lie on the floor. Hands behind your head, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift head and shoulders towards your knees. It’s not necessary to move your head all the way and touch your knees, though, if you find that is too much for you. As your head lifts you will feel your tummy muscle stretch and tighten, and that is what you want to achieve.
- Leg Lifts. A great exercise for strength and muscle building in the legs, which can be achieved with the legs straight or bent slightly. Lie on your back, hands at your sides and lift your legs slowly from the heels.
- Squats. Good exercise for legs, buttocks and hips. Stand with your hands at your sides and lower yourself as if to sit in a chair, and then stand back up slowly. If you can’t manage them properly to start with, repeat sitting and standing from a chair. It will create a similar effect and enable completion of a number of repetitions without you losing interest.
- Push-ups. These build up your arm strength and chest muscles. Lift yourself from the knees if you can’t manage to do them straight legged, and for a lower impact version, do them in a standing position and push yourself away from a wall.
- Running on the spot. This is good exercise for the heart. It can be done anytime, anywhere. A decent pair of shoes is preferable though, to reduce any leg stress.
- Weight lifting. This is easily achieved by using a couple of cans you have around the house. Just use light weights. Don’t try anything too heavy to start with though. This is good light aerobic training.
This might seem all basic stuff – but guess what? It works. You cover nearly every muscle in your body using just your body weight as resistance.
There are other forms of home exercise that don’t require equipment as such, but for which you would be advised to get an instructional DVD to get started. Yoga and Tai Chi are both forms of exercise that use your body without the need for special equipment…
Yoga is a discipline that uses breathing, stretching and concentration to increase the strength and flexibility in your body. The various poses, or asana, promote strength and calmness and some exercises are aimed at alleviating specific conditions, such as arthritis or back pain. Yoga is suitable for all ages and particularly so for seniors.
Tai Chi uses a combination of relaxation, deep breathing and slow gentle movements. This is an especially good form of exercise for seniors who have tended to be inactive and who need a gradual build up of physical activity. It can help improve balance and overall mobility, increase leg muscle strength and reduce stress. As with any new exercise you need to be sensible and have a chat with your doctor first.
So you see that it is possible to get yourself fit at home without spending a bundle on kit. What I would recommend though, is that if you do have some spare cash you get yourself a good exercise mat and possibly a resistance band or two.
The mat will make the floor exercises a lot more comfortable and give more grip. Resistance bands will help improve your co-ordination and balance, give you a wider range of resistance moves than just your body weight can provide, and help make your routine a bit more challenging. They’re lightweight, take up little space and can easily be taken with you wherever you go.