Many Americans start the new year with the best of intentions, envisioning a future where we’re fitter, stronger and leaner. But studies show that only four percent of people who join a gym in the month of January actually step foot in the facility during the month of February. Some of the most common reasons we fail to honor our commitments to fitness include lack of time and difficulty getting to a gym.
But according to Dr. Patrick Curry a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon with BoulderCentre for Orthopedics and Spine, you can stay fit even if you’re short on time and lack access to a gym. There are in fact, many exercises you can do at home to stay fit
— that don’t require a lot of time or much, if any equipment.
Before starting any program, Curry recommends checking with your primary doctor to ensure you’re healthy enough to exercise safely. Once you’re cleared for exercise, 150 minutes a week of exercise at mild to moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity activity “is a good start point,” although he adds, “additional benefits are gained with longer periods of training.”
When it comes to choosing which workout to do, the options can be dizzying. Google “home workouts” and millions of search results are at your fingertips in less than a second. Curry recommends pairing a moderate-intensity activity like yoga with more intense activities such as bodyweight exercise or weightlifting. To get the most bang for your buck, try compound movements to “target multiple muscle groups” (think squats or pushups) versus exercises like bicep curls or tricep dips, which only serve to “isolate one specific muscle group.”
While you can use dumbbells or a resistance band to perform almost any resistance exercise, if you don’t have them at home, don’t sweat it. For an effective full-body fitness regimen, the only equipment you really need is your body and maybe a pair of running shoes. “A home program consisting of running or yoga alternating with pushups, pullups and planks or use of an ab-wheel is a good start,” says Curry.
He advises engaging in some type of exercise three to five days a week, and performing only what you can handle with good form before increasing the duration or the number of sets and repetition.
Besides saving you the hassle and the expense of hitting the gym, exercising at home has plenty of other benefits, says Curry. “Regular exercise lowers the risk of all-cause mortality, coronary artery disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes type 2.” Exercise isn’t just good for your body, though. It also enhances your mental and emotional well-being. “It can also improve sleep, cognition and quality of life,” Curry adds.
By Pam Moore