No time to exercise? • Don't have exercise equipment? • Hate the gym? • No more excuses! • Exercising at home, using your body to create resistance in what is called body-weight exercise, is a great way to get you moving. • If you work out regularly, supplementing body-weight exercises is handy for days when time is an issue. And if you are not, it will help to build stamina and introduce movement into a sedentary lifestyle.
"The best thing we can do is to get up out of our seats and move," says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise.
"It doesn't have to be very strenuous, nor does it have to be complicated; we just have to move."
Body-weight exercises provide a complete workout, each exercise working multiple muscle groups without using any equipment. Your body's weight will be creating the resistance and you have the option of designing your personal routine whenever and wherever you want in the privacy of your own home, watching TV or in a hotel room when traveling.
Down the road when your body adapts to the exercises, as it will, you may add intensity to make your workout more challenging.
One way to do so is by slowing down the repetitions. Going slower automatically makes the exercise more intense. Try taking eight to 10 seconds to complete each movement. You can also increase repetitions. Say if you were normally performing 12 reps, increase them to 20, and so on.
The body-weight home workout
These first four movements are demonstrated in the photos. After the workout be sure to stretch.
• Warm up for five minutes by walking, marching or lightly jogging.
• Select three to six exercises (described below), and do eight to 12 repetitions of each with a maximum rest of 15 to 30 seconds between exercises. Gauge rest time by your current fitness level. This will complete one circuit.
• For a more challenging workout, complete two to three circuits.
• Want more cardio benefits? Add a three-minute burst of a cardio movement after each exercise: jumping jacks, jogging in place, shaking it up with dance moves or shadowboxing.
Some body-weight exercises
Pushups are a total-body workout. The compound exercise strengthens muscles in chest, shoulders, arms, back, abs and legs.
Squats strengthen lower-body muscles, the hips, legs, back, buttocks and abs.
Front and back lunge with knee lift works the core and lower body while strengthening balance.
One-leg squat and reach is a balance exercise that strengthens ankles and targets buttocks, hips and core.
Heel raises strengthen leg muscles. Stand tall with hands resting on a support.
For more challenge, perform heel raises with one leg.
Shadowboxing is a cardio spike. With knees bent, stay light on your feet and practice throwing a few jabs and uppercuts.
Use controlled movements, and don't just swing loose arms. Get in that stress-relief mode!
If you are 50 or older and have not been exercising, check with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Trainer Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.