It’s easy to take health for granted when you’re young and active, but as time goes by, effort is required to remain limber, vibrant, and toned. Exercising in a gym, either at home or in one open to the public, is certainly one way to stay in shape, but it isn’t an option for everyone, or for times when you’re traveling.
These routines don’t require weights, machines, or any other specialized equipment, yet they have the potential to provide impressive results in terms of cardio health, muscle tone, and reduced body weight. All you need is the desire to be fit, a comfortable place to exercise, optional inspiring or soothing music, plenty of water to stay hydrated, and the discipline to keep at it.
Fitness isn’t easy, but when a goal of weight loss or being able to fit into clothes from many years ago is reached, many find themselves inspired to set new, higher goals.
However, before you consider any type of exercise, get your doctor’s OK; it’s critical that you make sure there are no underlying conditions that could cause or exacerbate health issues while exercising.
The goal is to elevate the heart rate for at least 10 minutes, making longer walks more beneficial than short bursts. When compared to running, Dr. Richard Josephson of University Hospital in Ohio suggests that a total of 150 minutes of walking per week at a moderate pace equates to a total of 75 minutes of running per week. Higher levels of cardio fitness require more intense exertion, allowing individuals to develop exercise routines based on their needs.
Barring physiological issues, we all walk, so converting it to serious exercise is relatively simple. Before you choose a route, proper shoes are a must; if possible, consult with a podiatrist to determine if you require extra arch support or have other foot-related issues. A great thing about walking is that it can be done virtually anywhere, at any time. In addition to strolls through a nearby park, or in the neighborhood, or around the block during office breaks, another option is the local mall, particularly during rainy, hot, or cold weather.
Water walking—literally walking in a pool (the shallow end, please!)—provides a bit more of a cardio workout compared to walking on dry land. Jumping jacks or no-rope jump roping provides a higher-intensity alternative to walking; however, if these are done in a hotel, office, or multistory residence, be courteous to neighbors on the floor beneath yours.
To increase the intensity of a walking workout, head for the stairs; if you work or live in a multistory building, use the stairs instead of the elevator. This exercise can be hard on the knees, so go slowly and work your way up as your stamina allows. Maintain a tight grip on the railing, especially when going down and when you’re tired. If your goal is to be able to run the steps at the local sports arena such as you see in movies, that’s admirable, but start off slowly.
Working your way up to five minutes per day over a span of 30 consecutive days can result in a very noticeable tightening of your core, and also serves to make exercising a normal part of your day. A hollow body hold is essentially a reverse plank. Lying on your back, raise your legs, arms, shoulders, and head to work and tone the muscles along the sides, back, and front of your body. Extend the hold time and number of repetitions over time for ever-improving results.
Leg lifts are just that: Raise and hold one or both legs to provide a toning effect to core muscles, as well as thighs and gluteal muscles. The most basic lifts have you lying on your back and raising one or both legs, pausing briefly at the top of each lift. Start with four sets of 10 repetitions and work your way up in how long you hold the raised position. To increase intensity, try the donkey kick: Start on your knees with your palms flat on the floor, then raise one leg straight up and point the bottom of your foot at the ceiling. Start with four sets of 10 repetitions, increasing reps as your muscles become stronger.
Start your own custom no-gym exercise routine and stick to it; you'll soon experience the overall great feeling that comes with being fit.