No gym membership? No exercise equipment at home? Bad weather?
You can find plenty of household items to help you get moving, get fit and get healthy.
“There’s a lot you can do with no equipment in a small space using just your body for exercise,” said Lucie Silver, an exercise physiologist with Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “That can be effective to burn fuel and build strength and endurance.”
Silver offers tips to kids and adults alike.
“A good starting place is trying to do a little bit at a time,” she said. “And build from there.”
Seven household items to get started today:
1. Your body
Yup. That’s right. All you need is your body and a little motivation.
“You can do all kinds of exercises where you do not need anything,” Silver said.
Squats, jumping jacks, lunges, sit-ups or crunches, push-ups, planks, jumping from side to side and front to back, burpees and more.
Silver suggests referring to videos online to learn the proper form.
Chair squats are a great way to improve fitness while also teaching the fundamentals of squats. That way, when you later do squats without a chair, you’ll have the correct form.
Find a folding chair or a straight-back chair. Sit down slowly in the chair, using your quadricep muscles to sit, and then stand up all the way—and repeat this process for 30 seconds. Take a break and try it again for 30 seconds.
As you progress in strength and endurance, you can try the same thing, but using one leg.
Rest one leg on the floor and stand up using the opposite leg. Use your resting foot for balance if needed. Make sure your knee doesn’t go past your toe. Switch legs after 30 seconds.
A flight of stairs can offer a great cardio workout, Silver said. Ideally, try to find one with at least 12 steps.
Walk up and down the steps, using the handrail for balance. Try to repeat five times.
“You want to get that heart pumping,” she said.
If you want to add a challenge, advance to skipping a step as you climb—but just be careful as you do it.
You also can stand at the bottom of the steps and step up and down—one foot up, then the other up, then down. Another vigorous variation is a box jump: up and down with both feet together onto the bottom step, Silver said.
Find a broom, lay it on the ground and jump over it. Turn around and repeat.
The broomstick offers a good visual for jumping over, Silver said. Jump for 30 seconds to one minute and repeat.
5. Soup cans
Soup cans work as a substitute for light hand weights.
To use them for a bicep curl, hold one can in each hand and bend your arms at a 90-degree angle with your elbows at your side. Hold your right arm still while you curl your left arm to your shoulder and then down to your side. Repeat 15-20 times and then switch arms.
6. Milk jugs
If you’re looking for something a little heavier, gallon milk jugs or laundry detergent bottles can work, Silver said. Simply fill them with water until they reach the desired weight.
To use them for an upper row, hold a jug in each hand by the handle. One at a time, raise the jug up to your chin.
For bicep curls, hold a jug in each hand by the handle and place your arms straight at your sides. One arm at a time, raise the jug, bending your arm at the elbow. Lower and repeat about 15-20 times. Rest and then complete another set.
For a great exercise that benefits your entire lower body, look to the wall sit.
And all you need is a wall.
Stand with your back flat against the wall. Place your feet shoulder width apart and then about 2 feet out from the wall. Slide your back down the wall, tightening your stomach muscles, until your legs are in a 90-degree angle.
Your knees should be directly above your ankles, not in front of them. Hold for as long as you can, or about 30 to 60 seconds. If you can’t make it 30 seconds, start with 10 to 15 seconds and build up to 30 continuous seconds.
When you’re done, slowly slide your back up the wall to a standing position while leaning against the wall.
Whatever method you choose, it’s an exercise worth doing. Silver encourages everyone, kids and adults, to find a way to get moving and get the heart pumping.
“The hardest part is just getting started,” she said.