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Easy ways to exercise at home

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A physical therapist can help you develop a home exercise program.

Lower the barriers that are keeping you from exercising. All it takes is two 10-minute sessions per day to feel better.

If going for a walk or working out at a gym isn’t your style, you can still fit an exercise routine into your day. “Exercising at home is much easier than people think. A simple routine can improve your quality of life and stop the decline in muscle mass that happens with aging,” says Elissa Huber-Anderson, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Where to start

If you haven’t been exercising and you have no idea where to begin, talk to your doctor to make sure you have clearance to exercise. If the answer is yes, make an appointment with a physical therapist, who can tailor an exercise program to your overall health. “For example, if you have osteoporosis, a physical therapist will know you should avoid exercises that flex your spine and put you at risk for fractures. So you’ll need to avoid crunches, and do more posture exercises like tai chi or yoga,” explains Huber-Anderson.

Once you learn the exercise routine and your physical therapist says you’re ready, you’ll be able to exercise at home. If you need supervision, consider hiring a personal trainer.

Exercise goals

You’ll need to aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. That’s a minimum of about 20 minutes per day, such as morning and afternoon sessions of about 10 minutes each.

Huber-Anderson recommends that you do aerobic activity every day and add strength training at least two or three days per week. Be sure to warm up before exercising, and cool down afterward. “For example, walk around the house for one or two minutes to warm up, then do aerobic exercise for 10 minutes, then walk around the house for one or two minutes,” she explains. Stretching for just a few minutes afterward will help keep your muscles flexible.

What you can do

For aerobic activity, Huber-Anderson suggests that you go up and down stairs, dance, ride a stationery bicycle, march in place, walk on a treadmill, or walk at a brisk pace inside your house (make sure your path is uncluttered).

For strength training, she suggests that you work with resistance bands, do chair yoga, or use small weights (even soup cans).

You can also do exercises such as
heel raises, squats, seated knee extensions, leg lifts, or planks against a wall. There are many more suggestions available in the Harvard Special Health Report Gentle Core Exercises. Go to health.harvard.edu to purchase a copy. 

Don’t skip exercise while traveling!

Keep up your mobility while you’re away by working out your leg muscles.

Hitting the road for the holidays? You may not have access to your usual equipment or walking path. But don’t let that stop you from exercising. “Every time you take a break from your exercise routine, it nicks away at all the hard work you’ve been doing to prevent chronic disease,” says Elissa Huber-Anderson, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

A halt to exercise threatens good habits if you’ve just started a routine. “It takes a solid six months to change a behavior, and if you take a week or two off, it’s likely you’ll revert back to your old ways,” says Huber-Anderson.

Fitting exercise into a trip may be easier than you think. Huber-Anderson recommends working your leg muscles at the very least, so you can be mobile while you’re away. She suggests heel raises and sit-to-stand exercises (going from a sitting to a standing position repeatedly). She also suggests bringing resistance bands with you, since they’re small and you can do exercises with them wherever you go. Another easy way to exercise while on a trip is to make it more active. “Instead of watching a movie with your family, take a walk together. And remember to park as far away as possible so you get in more walking,” says Huber-Anderson. 

Move of the month: Seated knee extension

This builds strength in the quadriceps, which helps you get up from a chair, walk, and climb.

Sit up straight in a chair with your feet
flat on the floor. Contract your right thigh
muscle, then exhale as you slowly lift your
right foot toward the ceiling as high as is
comfortable, then return to starting position. This is one repetition.

Aim for eight to 10 repetitions. Rest and repeat the set using your left leg.

Michael Carroll Photography.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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