No Gym Required: How to Get Fit at Home
Get in shape without leaving the house
You want to get fit. But you don't want to join a health club -- it's too
expensive, there's no gym convenient to you, or maybe you're just the
independent type. Or perhaps you're already a gym member, but your schedule has
been too manic for you to get away.
That leaves working out at home. But can you really get a great workout
without leaving the house?
Absolutely, says Kevin Steele, PhD, exercise physiologist and vice president
of 24 Hour Fitness Centers.
"In today's world, the reality of it is people don't have time to go to
a facility every day anyway," he says. "And consistency is
Believe it or not, Steele says, at 24 Hour Fitness, they encourage folks to
exercise at home as much as at the gym. This way, they are more apt to adopt
fitness as a lifestyle. "The key thing is that you do something, somewhere,
sometime," he says.
Steele and other fitness experts say it doesn'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.
But even with no props or machines, you can build muscles and burn
"If someone wants to get started, they could take a brisk walk, then do
abdominal exercises and push-ups," says Richard Weil, MEd, CDE an exercise
physiologist and WebMD Weight Loss clinic consultant.
The 5 Elements of Fitness
According to Steele, an effective fitness program has five components, all
of which you can do at home:
- A warmup.
- A cardiovascular (aerobic) workout.
- Resistance (strength-building) exercises.
- Flexibility moves.
- A cooldown
A warm-up could be an easy walk outside or on a treadmill, or a slow pace on
a stationary bike. For the cardiovascular portion, walk or pedal faster, do
step aerobics with a video, or jump rope -- whatever you enjoy that gets your
heart rate up.
The resistance portion can be as simple as squats, push-ups and abdominal
crunches. Or you could work with small dumbbells, a weight bar, bands or
Increase your flexibility with floor stretches or yoga poses. And your
cooldown should be similar to the warm up, says Steele -- "cardiovascular
work at a low level to bring the heart rate down to a resting state."
You can do strength work in same workout as your aerobic work, or split them
up. Just be sure to warm up and cool down every time you exercise.
If you're short on time one day, increase the intensity of your workout,
says Tony Swain, MS, fitness director of East Bank Club in Chicago. Instead of
your usual 45-minute ride on the stationary bike, choose a harder program for
25 minutes and really push yourself. Choose the hilly walk in your
neighborhood, or jog instead of walking.