Simple Ways to Stay Active at Home
July 25, 2020
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It is estimated that around a quarter of the world’s population (including over 80% of adolescents 11-17 years of age) don’t get enough exercise! It can be tough knowing where to start. Trying to figure out the best workout routine for your busy schedule can often-times be frustrating. If you happen to be stuck at home more than usual, it may be harder to find the desire to work out or stay physically active. Add in a lack of fitness expertise, expensive gym equipment, and limiting meal plans it's no wonder so many people give up on being healthy. In this article we will discuss the benefits staying physically active can have on both your body and mind. We will also look at some exercise tips and resources that you can use to stay active at home.
What does it mean to be Physically active?
There are many benefits to being physically active, but what does being physically active actually mean? According to the National Institute of Health, “physical activity generally refers to movement that enhances health.” Thankfully, this means that there is a wide range of activities to help you stay active. Anything ranging from an hour-long high intensity cycling class to enjoying your Saturday morning gardening can have a positive impact on your health. The most important thing is, not surprisingly, to simply move more! It’s important to find activities that are enjoyable to you and get your body moving. If you can find more ways to incorporate extra movement or physical activity into your daily routine, you can start to enjoy some of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
What are the benefits of exercise?
One of the major benefits of physical activity is improved mental health. And now with many people being stuck inside, maintaining mental health and managing stress has never seemed so important. There have been numerous research studies indicating that physical activity has a positive impact on many different aspects of mental health, including: “mood, self-esteem, cognitive function, depression and quality of life.” Remembering to be physically active throughout the day is an important part of maintaining good mental health which can positively affect other aspects of your day to day life. For other tips on mental health, take a look at this recent article.
Another benefit to being active is better sleep. Sleep is one thing that is often overlooked and is something that is sacrificed more often thanks to seemingly infinite social media and streaming services. Research suggests that getting adequate exercise can help with improving the way we sleep. It can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep while increasing the total time spent sleeping. If sleep is one of your main concerns, check out some more tips here.
Exercise also provides cardiovascular benefits. Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death globally and the World Health Organization has actually launched a campaign to combat this. Aerobic (aka cardio) activities aim to get your breathing and heart rate up which helps lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular benefits seen from aerobic exercise include better heart health, blood pressure, and blood glucose/insulin control.
Other benefits such as strengthening of bones and joints and supporting lean muscle mass come from exercising as well. These benefits are seen in those who regularly incorporate strength training/resistance exercises into their workout routines. Strength training exercise puts added stress on our bones which activates the bone forming cells in the body and help to improve bone health and slow bone loss. Bone health becomes especially important as we get older. As we age, we start to lose bone density and can eventually lead to weaker, more brittle, bones which can negatively affect our quality of life.
A combination of aerobic and strength training exercise is crucial for maximizing these benefits. When incorporating both types of exercise it can add variety to your workout and make it more enjoyable.
How much exercise do I need?
The current recommendation from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. It is also recommended to include strength/resistance training 2-3 days a week. For those of you who don’t exercise regularly, this may seem like a lot and may be a little discouraging. If you aren’t able to start with the recommend 150 minutes of exercise, don’t worry! Evidence shows that some of the greatest benefits of physical activity was seen when people went from no physical activity to some physical activity – even if that change was relatively small. So whatever your activity level is, there are benefits you can see with even small changes to your exercise routine. Now, Let’s talk about a few things you can do to stay active while staying home.
At home exercise ideas
For those of you who don’t have access to a gym or fitness center or for those who can’t make it to the gym every day, staying active at home is a great option. You can still enjoy the benefits of exercise and get in a great workout from the comfort and convenience of your own home. There are hundreds of things you can do to work out from home and there are resources online at your disposal to help give you some ideas.
If you are not familiar with different workout routines or what type of exercise you might be interested in, make a list of ones you have thought about trying. Once you have your list you can do a quick search on YouTube or Google. For example, if you have ever thought about doing yoga but have never tried it before, you can simply search for a video of a beginner yoga class to see how you like it. The same is true for other activities such as circuit training, high intensity interval training, Zumba, and more! The great part about YouTube is there are videos for beginners, intermediates, and advanced users. So, as you improve at the exercise or routine you choose there is always a video to challenge and push you a little more each time.
As was mentioned earlier, try to incorporate aerobic and resistance training as you exercise. Both support different aspects of health and can provide you with different benefits.
Examples of aerobic activities that can be done at home or close to home include walking, jogging, cycling, rollerblading and running. Everyday activities such as deep cleaning the house, scrubbing the floors, gardening, mowing the lawn, or parking far away from the entrance of the grocery store can be easy ways to incorporate more movement into your life. If you sit at a desk all day, try getting up and walking around every hour or so to get the blood flowing. You can even add in some light stretching to help wake you up if you feel sleepy during the day. For other tips on staying active while working at a table or desk, check out this WebMD article.
Resistance training ideas can include push-ups, sit ups, body-weight squats, and dips. If you aren’t sure how to do some of these exercises, search for a demonstration video on YouTube first so that you know how to do them safely and effectively. Based on your fitness levels you can also try using things around the house to try and increase the difficulty of these simple movements. Using a backpack filled with books to add weight to your squats or push-ups is a great way to add more resistance. You can also try using soup cans or water bottles for bicep curls if you don’t have access to any weights at home.
Physical activity can provide some amazing benefits and there are small changes you can make in your daily routines to see these benefits right now. Knowing that there are free online resources and don’t need any special workout equipment may make it easier for you to find a workout routine that’s right for you. Try to find activities that you enjoy doing so that the exercises you choose become something you look forward to everyday. Whether you are stuck at home or have a chance to exercise outdoors safely, there are things you can do to stay physically active and enjoy the benefits of moving.