Motivating Yourself to Exercise at Home

As you already know, many of us are required to or are choosing to remain away from public spaces in an effort to stay well. At this time more than any other, we need to continue our exercise routines for both our mental and physical health.

Here are exercises you can do in your own home with just your body weight, a stretchy band, dumbbells (or anything else that weighs a few pounds) and a mat, if desired.

Wall sit. Stand with your back to a wall and step forward with both feet while keeping your hips and shoulder blades against the wall. Slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as far as you can. This is an isometric exercise which targets the quadriceps (thighs). Hold it for as long as you can before standing back up. If you don’t feel the exercise in the muscles right above the knees, try adjusting your legs so your stance is wider.

Sit to stand with a bench or chair. Using moderately heavy weights or just body weight, stand with your back to the front of a bench or chair. Lower your body to sit all the way down to lightly tap the bench/chair, then squeeze the glutes (butt) and come back up to standing. You can do a partial sit down if you have any knee pain. Repeat 15 to 20 times or until muscle fatigue.

Bird dog. A great exercise for engaging the core, glutes and balance. Get into a kneeling position on the hands and knees, with the shoulders over the wrists. Lift and extend one leg behind you, then add the opposite arm. Hold for one second, then switch to the other side. Continue to alternate sides, engaging the glute of the leg you are lifting. If this is easy, you can try lifting the arm and leg on the same side instead of the alternate side.

Plank. Get down to the floor or mat and position your elbows under your shoulders. Lift up onto the toes if possible or keep the knees on the ground if you need to modify. Pull the belly button towards the spine to engage the core and keep your body weight shifted slightly forward. Make sure that your hips are not too high or too low, aiming for parallel to the floor. Hold for as long as you can while continuing to breathe throughout the movement.

Push-ups. Like the plank, these can be done on the toes or on the knees. Get down on your hands and knees or toes, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Engage your core and begin lowering your body toward the floor, bending at the elbows. If you choose to use the knees-down option, be sure to keep your weight shifted forward.

Band pull aparts. An exercise for the muscles of the upper back, shoulders and arms that requires a physical therapy band or other stretchy band. Pull it apart until your hands are about shoulder width apart. Extend the arms forward and pull the band so that as it stretches it moves in towards your chest. At the same time, pull your shoulder blades together to contract the muscles of your upper back, without elevating your shoulders toward your ears. You can adjust your hand position on the band as needed to make it easier or harder.

Wood chops with a weight. Hold a moderately heavy weight with both hands. Reach the weight up above one shoulder and above your head. Engaging the core, bring the weight diagonally across the body and in front of the opposite hip. Bend the knees and reach the weight down towards the floor, then press the weight back up again on the diagonal toward the ceiling. Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the other side. This is a full body and functional exercise. If you are able, you can slightly speed it up to make it more dynamic.

Balance exercises. Try standing on one foot, then close your eyes. To further challenge your balance, try a heel-to-toe walk forward and backward (eyes open). You can also try standing in a heel-to-toe stance and then rotating the shoulders and head both directions or closing the eyes for an additional challenge. Be sure the ankles do not roll inward during your balance exercises.

Try to perform one or two sets of each exercise. Cool down with light walking, light dancing or a simple step touch movement. Finish with stretching for hamstrings, hips, calves, quadriceps, back, shoulders, arms and neck.

Lori Vance

Body Image Fitness, LLC

503.351.6476