Exercise is a great way to de-stress at the end of the day and a good way to keep your immune system in good working order. But fears surrounding COVID-19 have many people avoiding public places like the gym.
So what can you do? While not all of us are lucky enough to have a bona fide home gym filled with state-of-the-art fitness machines, chances are your home is already equipped to address many of your fitness needs.
Performing common household chores, and using items around the house like ordinary tables, chairs, door jambs, floors, walls, and gallon-jugs of milk or juice, can up your fitness quotient and keep you on your exercise schedule without spending a dime.
Exercising At Home
For Dallas, Texas homemaker-turned-real estate agent Pam Short, going to work full time when twins Rebecca and Ryan entered kindergarten left little time for herself, let alone joining a gym or even grabbing an hour a day to exercise. “When I get home, often late, my family, whom I haven’t seen all day, is my priority,” she says.
She tried getting up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. a couple of times a week to run, “but at age 40, stretching and strength training are as important components of my exercise program as anything else, and I didn’t do either of them.”
With household tasks shared between Pam and husband Michael, a busy engineer and former triathlete, finding ways to keep fit, keep it interesting, and maximize any benefits, was a challenge they were only too happy to take on.
In-Home Work-Out Exercises
Here are just a few of the exercises they’ve mastered that can be done right at home, at any age and skill level—no gym needed!
Overhead Milk Press: Starting with breakfast, Michael figured out there were approximately 8 pounds to a gallon of liquid. As they readily had two gallons of milk or juice in the fridge, Pam tried to do at least three repetitions (or reps) of 12 overhead presses before using for their cereal, etc. (Note: gallon-sized water bottles and large-sized bottles of laundry detergent also work extremely well here. If you need to start at a lesser weight, just use them half-filled).
Tricep Chair Dips: Pam and Michael found they could work the triceps right in the kitchen. Using a chair sturdy enough to hold your body weight, stretch legs out straight in front of you, gripping the seat with fingers pointing forward, arms close to your body. Drop down, bending at the elbows (be sure to stop when upper arms are parallel to the ground) before pushing up again. Repeat.
Incline Counter Pushups: Using a table or counter, place hands on the edge, legs stretched out behind you. Bend at the elbows to bring body down to the counter, and back up slowly so as not to lose the full benefit by allowing momentum to take over.
Wall Squats: “One of the hardest exercises we figured out was the one that looks easy, but it isn’t,” Michael explains. With your back against the wall, bend knees at a 90-degree angle (as if you’re sitting in a chair), keeping your back flush against the wall. Hold the posture for at least a minute (in time they built up to two or three). “It totally strengthens your legs,” Michael says.
Step Calf Stretch: Using the front step or the first one in a staircase, stand on tiptoes at the edge and lower heels as far as possible. “This is just what I need to stretch out my calves for running,” Pam says, adding they become tight and painful if not addressed. When finished, you can even run up and down the staircase to raise your heart rate and burn calories.
Door Jamb Press: Stand in the middle of a doorway with arms outstretched to either side of the jamb, keeping hands flat. Press against the jamb, and release, doing three sets of 12 reps. If your doorways aren’t as wide as you’d like, try the same procedure reaching up, placing hands flat at the top. Works shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
Other exercises to try while doing chores:
For a mean and clean sweep, Pam puts away the electric floor sweeper and opts for a good old fashioned broom. Extending out as far as her arms will reach and dipping her knees a bit while keeping the bristles on the floor, she pulls the broom back in quickly while standing straight up and repeats 40 or 50 times on the left, the right, and in front. This works her arms and has aerobic benefits as well. “If you do an entire room or two this way, you’ll be surprised what a sweat you can work up,” she says.
Michael says though it may look funny (and what’s wrong with entertaining your kids?!), place a full laundry basket on your head for added weight, holding it steady with both hands. Proceed to do squats and lunges, sculpting Adonis-like glutes and quads in the process.
While they do intend to devote more time to formal fitness training as the kids get older, a household gym is a fun, creative substitute, according to the couple.
“It may add a little time to our chores,” Michael says, “but it also provides a sense of personal accomplishment and our kids get a kick out of thinking of alternative uses for us with bottles, cans, and small appliances!”