While gyms are one-stop-shopping for just about any type of workout, there isn’t always enough time in the day to make it there. If you find yourself short on time for exercise or if you prefer to exercise at home, here are the best at-home workout items.
1. Yoga or exercise mat – Sometimes the carpet isn’t clean but that shouldn’t be a reason to miss a little core work. Slippery floors can make certain exercises (like lunges) dangerous because of sliding. Alternatively, you may need a little extra padding during supine abdominal exercises or stretching.
2. Exercise ball – Fitness balls have declined in popularity but they’re still a great inexpensive item to have at home. Choose a ball that is appropriate for your height. You should be able to sit on the ball with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Use your exercise ball for lunges against a wall, lower back support during crunches or overhead reaches.
3. Balance Trainer – While these are a bit on the expensive side, they’re relatively small and easy to store. The purpose of a balance trainer to add instability to exercise in order to recruit more muscles. Hands down, the most versatile balance trainer is the BOSU ball. You can use it ball side up or down. If you have knee or ankle stability issues, the Step 360 may be a better choice. The flat surface of the Step 360 prevents torqueing of the knee or ankle. Either can increase instability during upper or lower body exercises.
4. Resistance Bands – Light weight and easy to store, resistance bands are an excellent choice for an at-home strength training workout. Typically, different colors indicate different levels of resistance. Color codes may vary between brands. Use them for both upper body and lower body workouts. Never miss a workout when you’re traveling!
5. Hula Hoops – When your child is at school, take her hula-hoop for a spin. Although they are technically a toy, they’re actually great exercise. Hula hooping gets the heart rate up and is an excellent way to strengthen the core and hips flexors. Don’t fret if it’s not as easy as it once was – it does take a little practice. Search online for videos and how-to’s.
6. A Step – Steps are another relatively inexpensive piece of equipment and they’re multi-functional. Depending on the length of your step, it can double as a weight bench. Use them to add different levels to lunges and squats. Step aerobics are also a fantastic cardio workout.
7. Gliding Discs – Gliding discs add another dimension of instability to leg work and core work. Use them to up the ante and challenge yourself. Pro tip: Instead of splurging on “official” discs, opt for the furniture moving discs – they have the same purpose, work just as well and usually cost less. Additionally, you can use folded towels on tile or wood floors.
8. Foam Rollers – Unless you live with your massage therapist, there will be days when your muscles need intervention and a massage isn’t possible. A foam roller is the next best thing. Utilizing a similar technique as a massage therapist, foam rolling involves myofascial release. You use your own body weight to find the knots and roll them out. Foam rollers differ in hardness and if you’re new to foam rolling, start with a softer version.
Fitness equipment doesn’t have to be expensive or bulky to be effective. With just a few items, you can have an arsenal of items for home workouts. Don’t forget DVD or online exercise videos too!