Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Exercising has immediate benefits such as better sleep, less anxiety, and lower blood pressure. It also has long-term benefits like improved brain and heart health, disease prevention, bone strength, and better balance and coordination.
But, you don't have to sign up for a costly gym membership or buy a lot of exercise equipment to get fit. You can train at home and still reap all the benefits.
How much should you exercise to get fit?
As an adult, you should devote at least 2 hours and 30 minutes per week toward moderate to vigorous physical activity. You should also do strength training exercises that work all of your major muscle groups at least 2 days per week. Getting in 5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity is even better, and you'll get even more benefits if you surpass that goal.Additionally, you should move more and sit less throughout the day. If you spend a lot of time sitting, you are at an increased risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and plenty of other health issues that could lower your life expectancy. Getting 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day reduces those risks.
What kind of exercise can you do without gym equipment?
Moderate-intensity exercises are those that get your heart rate up and make you breathe harder. You'll still be able to talk, though.
These exercises are about a 5 or 6 on the relative-intensity scale and can be done without any gym equipment. Some of these exercises include:
- Walking briskly
- Playing doubles tennis
- Water aerobics
- Riding your bicycle slower than 10 miles an hour
Vigorous-intensity exercises are harder to do than moderate-intensity ones. You probably won't be able to talk without getting out of breath. A minute of vigorous-intensity exercise is worth about 2 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise. Some vigorous-intensity exercises you can do without any gym equipment are:
- Swimming laps
- Aerobic dancing
- Playing singles tennis
- Heavy yard work
- Jumping rope
- Riding your bicycle faster than 10 miles an hour
Muscle-building exercises make your bones stronger and help prevent you from losing muscle mass — either from losing weight or getting older. Strength training makes your muscles work harder than they're used to.
You should do enough strength training exercises that it would be difficult for you to do another one. In the beginning, one set of 8 to 12 repetitions can be enough, but soon two or three sets may be more effective. You should work all of your major muscle groups, including:
Using a pyramid exercise plan is a good way to address your major muscle groups and keep challenging yourself. Once you can easily do the exercises listed, swap them out for harder ones.
Do the pyramid workout as quickly as you can. Take a break if you need to. Then complete two more rounds for a total of three. Keep track of your time so you can monitor your progress.
Here's a sample workout to get you started:
- 50 jumping jacks
- 40 sit-ups
- 30 squats
- 20 push-ups
- 10 burpees
These bodyweight exercises are a great way to train at home without the need for gym equipment. But, they do have some challenges to keep in mind when you're using bodyweight exercises for strength training:
Get the foundations of a movement down before you do dynamic versions of it. Dynamic movements take your body through a large range of motion — which can lead to injury without proper preparation.
Use bodyweight exercises that train your body in all planes, including front to back, side to side, and rotating.
It's also important to do side-to-side and rotating exercises to keep a balance in your body. You don't want to overdevelop one muscle group.
Plan to do more repetitions with bodyweight exercises as your strength and stamina improve. You may need to do 10 to 15 reps instead of 8 to 12.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Health Benefits of Physical Activity for Adults."
Ignite Peer Fitness Trainer Program: "Exercising With Bodyweight."
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition."
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