ORLANDO — There are plenty of reasons why people who are health conscious and want to stay in shape don’t join a gym.
Maybe the fitness centers near you are too expensive.
Maybe they’re not close enough to your home or office to make going there a convenient daily routine.
Maybe you’re out of shape, and you’re uncomfortable exercising alongside people who look like they spend half their day there.
All of these reasons and plenty more are valid. We’ve all been there at one time or another, where we become determined to get fit, join a gym, work out daily …. and then other things in your life start to take a higher precedent, you drop out, and forget about that fitness routine thing for a while.
Been there, done that.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that you have a gym that’s free, close by, and always open.
It’s called your home.
Now, a lot of people don’t come to this conclusion, because they think you need that Fitness Center stuff — cardio equipment, exercise bikes, weights, a swimming pool — to engage in an effective workout.
Does having all that stuff help? Sure. But there are plenty of exercises you can do at home that are still effective for staying in shape, keeping your blood flowing and your heart pumping, and maintaining a lifestyle that balances the right meals with exercise.
So don’t assume if you can’t make it to the gym, it’s game over. It’s not.
What Are Good Exercises You Can Do at Home?
Oh, sheesh, do I have to go to the gym today? I worked late last night, the kids kept me up, the cats kept me up, the alarm clock went off too early …. if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m grouchy all day.
Ok, so you skip the gym. And then the guilt sets in ….
Oh, boy oh boy, they ordered pizza for lunch at the office today, and it looks and smells so delicious ….
Yep, the guilt pangs are building up fast.
So don’t let that stuff get you down. Anytime during the day, take some time to exercise. It’s that simple.
So what are some great Home Cardio exercises, no equipment necessary?
The bottom line is you want to be working up some sweat. You want calories burned by physical activity. And you want calories burned daily. So take advantage of doing your cardio exercising at home, since you don’t need a lot of space or expensive equipment — just a commitment to set aside a certain amount of time each day to burning up sweat.
Here’s an easy and effective one: Jumping Jacks! Remember doing those in High School phys ed? Your physical education instructor had you do those for a reason. Repeatedly jumping while circling your arms overhead can help you burn off 100 calories in 10 minutes. And all you need is a comfy pair of sneakers.
Another High School classic also works well: Jumping rope, which can effectively burn about 220 calories in 20 minutes. This is a high impact exercise that requires some practice, but once you’ve got a good rope and get the hang of it, stick with it.
How about Burpees — named in the 1930s for physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the burpee exercise as part of his Ph.D. thesis, which then became popularized when the U.S. Armed Services adopted it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits as the nation entered World War II in 1941.
You start in a standing position, then begin squatting with your hands on the floor, then kick your feet back to a plank position while keeping your arms extended, jumping back in, and standing up.
This one burns 100 or more calories in 10 minutes.
What Are Some Good Outdoor Exercises?
Have you ever had something on your mind that was bugging you, so you decided you needed to get out of the house and do some walking? Guess what: you’re exercising!
Walking is considered to be one of the most underrated forms of exercise — but it works! If you have a park or nature trail close by, consider heading over there. Studies indicate that walking in a nature setting can make you feel tranquil and helps reduce negative thoughts and lowers your risk of depression.
While some people like to think that running is considerably more effective, walking shouldn’t get discounted as a good form of exercise that can help you reach your fitness and weight-loss goals.
One reason to choose walking over running: Walking is a lower impact exercise, so you don’t get tired as quickly compared to when you’re running, and it’s an exercise you can do for longer periods of time.
As the Mayo Clinic notes, “Physical activity doesn’t need to be complicated. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live a healthier life.”
Jogging is also a popular form of exercise — and that can include jogging in a stationary position, which gets the heart rate up and is often used by athletes as a way to warm up for more intense exercise.
Start by marching in place, then begin to jog as you prepare your body for a more strenuous workout.
And why not take advantage of something else in your home or office: the staircase. Walking stairs is an excellent cardio workout, and you can alternate 1-2 laps up and down with other cardio exercises.
Also effective is to walk or run up the stairs as fast as you can and then walk back down to recover, repeating this for 10 minutes or more.
And if you’re more eager to get out of the house, take advantage of the beauty of the great outdoors, where you’ve got the fresh air for breathing in deeply while exercising.
For weight loss you can walk at a brisk pace, or find hills and sprints to increase the intensity. This is a great way to make a day at the park a lot more fun — and healthy for you.
In August 2016, my left leg swelled up and I was in intense pain when I walked. At first I thought I had twisted a muscle, and was lying on the couch all day, putting ice packs and muscle relaxants on it. When the swelling wouldn’t go down, I finally went to a Centra Care Clinic. The physician took one look at my leg, and told me to rush to the nearest emergency room, because he was pretty certain I had a blood clot in my leg, and I needed to get it treated instantly.
I quickly went to Florida Hospital, where they did a Doppler scan on my leg. I’ll never forget sitting in the waiting room, and having a grim, white-faced doctor rush over to me and say, “Mr. Freeman, our scan shows you have multiple blood clots up and down your leg, and we need to get you hooked on an IV immediately.”
I spent three days on an IV, counting myself lucky that the blood clot hadn’t spread to my heart or lungs, which would have killed me. After the third day, I got switched to the blood thinner Xarelto, which I take daily.
I consider myself very lucky. Today most of the blood clots are gone, except for one, which is chronic, so I keep taking the Xarelto. But there are no side effects anymore (initially I felt dizzy and often had a lower body temperature and cold spells.)
And I exercise daily at my gym.
But I’m also someone who likes going to fitness centers, and I know not everyone does. So if you’re not the “gym type,” do you own exercises at home. They’re a great way to avoid going through what I experienced.
As the Better Health Channel notes, “Physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life. A minimum of 30 minutes a day can allow you to enjoy these benefits.”
Amen to that.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.