The following is a piece I worked on recently with Treated.com about exercising at home. Enjoy!
Building a regular and interesting exercise routine can be a daunting prospect for those new to it. A plethora of unanswered questions can loom over you: How often do I need to exercise? How long should my workout sessions be? What exercise equipment should I invest in?
NHS guidelines suggest that adults carry out 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, as well as strength training on at least two days.
Dr Wayne Osborne Head Practitioner at Treated.com says: ‘Exercise is a great way of keeping our body performing at its best. It promotes healthy bones and can even ward off the onset of certain illnesses such as cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately too many Brits ignore the potential benefits and cite insufficient time and funds as reasons for not taking part in regular exercise.
In order to achieve a more active lifestyle you don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day and it doesn’t have to cost you anything.
Making small but noticeable improvements to your fitness levels does not always require dizzying amounts of time or money. It can start in your own front room and all for free.
Optimise your free time
It has been reported that the average Brit spends around three hours and 15 minutes watching television each day. This means that when we watch commercial channels we can end up sitting through around 40 minutes of advertisements. This idle time is calling out for a better use and we think at-home exercise offers the perfect answer.
When we spoke to Jessica on the topic of at-home exercise this is what she had to say: ‘Working out at home cuts out the commute to the gym and the potential excuses that crop up on the way. It saves money and allows you to do little bursts of exercise here and there, if your schedule doesn’t allow huge chunks of time to workout. The classic idea of a long, sweaty gym session as the way to fitness is losing some of its credibility with fitness experts.’
Overcome the fear factor
Signing up to a gym and scheduling your time there can seem like a mammoth task in itself. Gym centres can feel intimidating especially to newcomers. People can be put off from exercising simply because they don’t want to have to do it in front of an audience. Deciding to base your workouts at home removes the self-conscious aspect.
Jessica knows that comparison can be detrimental when it comes to exercising. She says: ‘Exercise is great and healthy, but you don’t need to punish yourself with extreme workouts to experience the benefits. Try not to be influenced by what others can do. It’s far more useful to pitch any exercise you do to the level you are at, even if this seems less intense than what others might be doing.’
‘With that in mind, there is an exercise for everyone. Try different things and find something you enjoy and can do with some degree of regularity, even if it’s not a traditional, gym-based workout.’
Taking the steps to introduce a regular fitness regime into your life is something to be proud of. By setting frequent goals you will get a boost of motivation each time that you achieve one.
Jessica says: ‘Goals are really important. However, setting an appropriate goal is more important. A goal that is too big or too far off can steal away our motivation when it feels too difficult to reach.’
Instead, Jessica suggests: ‘Write down your ultimate goals, break down the actions needed to get there into smaller chunks. These smaller chunks can provide achievable aims on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. Having a set of smaller goals helps you to feel the sense of achievement that will keep you going throughout the year.’
Positive mental attitude
Maintaining your exercise routine can be a struggle, especially if you lose motivation.
Jessica explains: ‘Staying motivated is tough. Be encouraged that the more you practise willpower and create new habits, the easier it will become over time. Even
better than seeing your new habits as a New Year’s resolution, try to see it as a lifestyle change.’
‘Aim instead to incorporate being active into your normal routine. Even if you have a few days when your motivation is flagging, walking more, taking the stairs, dancing around the room all adds up to healthier, happier you. If you notice your motivation waning, ask yourself why, instead of criticising yourself or your willpower.’
Dr Osborne says: ‘Adopting a regular exercise routine can offer a whole host of benefits that you will start to notice fairly quickly. Not only does exercise boost your physical fitness, it can also help your mental wellbeing. Your energy levels may become more consistent, you might sleep better and even notice reduced stress or anxiety levels.’
If you do deviate from your fitness plan, don’t let it get you down. Jessica says: ‘Setbacks are normal, so just aim to learn from the times when you haven’t stuck to your plans so you can problem solve around these issues when they crop up again.’
Do try this at home
All forms of exercise require some thought towards safety. If you think you’re ready to start exercising at home then you need to remember the following:
* Wear suitable clothing.
* Clear a flat surface area.
* Carry out a simple five-minute warm up beforehand. E.g. jogging on the spot, jumping jacks and gentle muscle stretching.
The below four exercises can be carried out in short blasts, perhaps during the TV commercials. Or you can create a longer routine to do before your favourite show starts.
Jessica explains: ‘This fairly intense movement is where you go from standing to lying flat on the floor, jumping up and clapping overhead.’
1. Adopt a crouched position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
2. Put your weight into your hands and jump your feet backwards.
3. Return your feet to their starting point by jumping them back towards your hands.
4. Jump in the air and clap your hands above your head.
So, why does Jessica favour this exercise for at-home workouts? ‘Burpees get your heart rate up, use your whole body and can be adjusted for any level of fitness.’
‘You can do them slow or go for speed.’
‘Step your feet out one by one as you lower to the floor, or jump down to the ground and explode up as fast as possible. You can vary landing your feet wide or narrow. You can even add a squat for more intensity in the legs.’
1. Lie on the floor on your front.
2. Use your toes and forearms to lift your whole body off the floor.
3. Keep your body in a straight line and your neck in a neutral position so that you don’t strain it.
4. Stabilise your position by concentrating on your core and gluteal muscles.
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
2. Bend your knees and squat down. Keep your weight over your heels.
3. Return to a standing position and squeeze your glute muscles.
4. Chair dips
1. Find a sturdy chair and sit on the edge.
2. Put your hands by your sides on the edge of the seat.
3. Lift your bottom off the chair and move your feet slightly away from the chair.
4. Bend your elbow joints to a 90 degree angle. This should lower your body towards the ground.
5. Before your bottom touches the ground, push through your arms and return your bottom so that it is level with the chair.
If you want to read more health and fitness articles head over to Dr Osborne’s blog or follow the Treated.com team on Twitter.