Whether you're tight on time, or tight in your finances, heading to a fitness club isn't always an option. Fortunately, high-tech machines and group classes are not the only way to get fit. It's easy to work out on your own at home, whether you want to try exercise videos, learn simple stretches, or create your own cardio routine through running, biking, or jumping rope.
Pop It In
Home workouts need not feel lonely. With a world of exercise videos and DVDs available for exercise regimes of all levels, you can receive professional instruction from certified trainers and exercise gurus on your TV or computer.
Perhaps you've always wanted to try yoga, or maybe you think Zumba is more your style. Whatever your interest, you'll find a video for it. You can even pick up great videos for stationary biking, also known as "spinning." Good places to check for popular videos include:
- The public library
- Your cable station through "On Demand" programming
- Bookstores or Amazon.com
- Fitness shops
- Online--many women's magazines and fitness journals provide links to free videos on their websites
Stretch It Out
According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), you can easily do a challenging full-body workout from the comfort of your own home by following some simple routines. Try the following stretches and strengtheners as part of your total workout regimen:
- Hamstring stretch: Lie on the floor, keeping your back flat and extending your legs straight out in front of you. Then raise your left leg up toward the ceiling, keeping your knee straight. You can use a towel around the front of your foot to assist you in holding the pose steady. You should feel a tension in your hamstring. Hold the pose for 15 seconds, then release and repeat on the other side.
- Hurdler stretch: While sitting on the floor, extend your right leg, bringing your left foot against your right knee. Lean slowly forward, stretching your fingers toward your ankle until you feel a tightening in your hamstring. Hold for 15 seconds, and then release and repeat with the other leg.
- Thigh stretch: Take a seated position on the floor, bending your knees, and bringing the soles of your feet together. Gently move your knees toward the floor, and lower your torso gradually toward the floor as well. You should feel a slight tension in your inner thighs. Hold for 15 seconds, and then release the pose.
Create Your Own
Don't like the structure of videos or prescribed routines? No need to worry: You can put together your own home cardio routine. If you have a treadmill or stationary bike, you can create your own home gym and choose workouts of different levels and intensities. Most home fitness machines provide a variety of choices for exercise experience, simulating hills and flats and offering options to focus on strength training or endurance.
If you prefer to avoid the expense of home exercise machines, everyday tools can also do the trick. Try a simple jump rope, fitness ball, or hula-hoop, and develop a routine of your own design. If you like to get active outdoors, consider starting to jog or bike.
Do It Yourself!
Don't let time or money stand in the way of your physical fitness. If you find it tricky to get to the gym, you can still make fitness a priority by learning to work out at home. Even your staircase provides options for quick and easy home workouts, for the creative-minded. Challenge yourself to different daily treks starting with "five times up and five times down" and increase your stair time as you go. With exercises that simple, you'll have no excuse for skipping your daily constitutional.