Exercising at Home: Expert Tips and Workout Ideas for All Fitness Levels

Exercising at Home: Expert Tips and Workout Ideas for All Fitness Levels
With gyms closed and most people staying inside, many people are looking for ways to stay active at home. Regular exercise is important because it can help with both physical and mental health. 

In fact, an article in the Journal of Health and Sports Science specifically listed exercise as a "need" for people. Scientists say it can lower your risk of getting sick [1].

Working out regularly can also help boost your immune system, lower stress, and help keep you sane while social distancing.

Here's a quick, comprehensive guide covering all the benefits of exercise, and how to ensure you can still get a great workout within the comforts of your own home.

How Exercise Impacts Immune Health  

Exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain immune system health.

For more than 50 years, it's been well known that exercise increases the production of immune cells and decreases the risk of common diseases [2].

A good workout also helps increase circulation of fresh oxygenated blood, which helps flush toxins and other chemicals out of your body's tissues [3].

And you're more likely to prioritize hydration after a tough workout, which in and of itself can increase immune cell function [4].

In short, a good daily workout is a surefire way to keep your body's defense system firing on all cylinders.  

How Exercise Impacts Your Weight  

It's a scary fact that being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting sick [5]. This includes acute bouts of illness like colds, viral infections, and chronic diseases that can develop over time.

Even scarier is that two-thirds of all American adults are overweight [6].

Fortunately, exercise (along with following a healthy diet) are two proven strategies for shedding excess body fat.

You're more likely to maintain a healthy body weight if you exercise on a regular basis [7]. 

Other benefits range from increased cardio health, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure (all of which are linked to body weight, and have been listed as risk factors for viral and bacterial infections).

How Exercise Impacts Your Mood  

With minimal notice, many of us went from working full-time in an office to trying to get everything done while managing a full household. Others are living with one other person or alone.

The sudden change in routine without knowing how long it will last can cause us to become stressed or even depressed. This can lead to stress eating, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems. 

But you can think of exercise as a reprieve from the daily stress and anxiety associated with social distancing.

Working out is a natural mood-booster because it increases your body's production of endorphins [8].

Nicknamed "nature's painkiller," endorphins have been shown to increase happiness and reduce levels of stress and anxiety [9][10].

Plus, a good workout can help you release some of that physical exertion that's building up from being inside all day. It can be hard, but even a 20-minute workout can help you blow that excess steam off.

How Exercise Impacts Sleep

Speaking of things being flipped upside down, all these adjustments to your schedule may be messing with your sleep, too.

That's the last thing you want—after all, quality sleep (like exercise) is one of the most effective tools you have available for maintaining good immune system health.

If you're having trouble shutting off at night, a little movement throughout the day can help with that, too.

Exercise can help regulate the hormones your body needs to sleep well [11][12]. 

Because of this, science even shows that working out can "offset" disruptions to your sleep schedule [13].

Easy Exercises You Can Do at Home

Gyms are closed down and we're supposed to stay at home. But that doesn't mean you can't get a killer workout done in your living room or backyard, or by joining a virtual live-streamed class. 

“Not surprisingly, there’s been a huge demand for virtual fitness classes since gyms closed,” said Fen Tung, NASM certified personal trainer and AFAA certified group fitness instructor. “While you can work out at home alone or by watching a video, not everyone wants to. People are requesting virtual classes because they not only need movement in their lives, but also connection with others. Being home all day, a vast majority are motivated by, and enjoy the company of others as they work out.” 

Tung has led live-streamed Bollywood-inspired dance classes to over 400 participants at a time since gyms closed down. She says participants have expressed appreciation for her free virtual classes. “I’ve even seen people who join the live-stream, dance for a bit, then just sit and smile throughout the hour, engaging with their friends who are in the group dancing.” 

Many “On Demand” platforms are either offering free trials or a discounted subscription rate at this time since the demand (no pun intended) for at-home workouts has skyrocketed. 

Workout Apps and YouTube Videos

Here's a list of workout apps and videos you can do at home. Most are free or offer free trials. Just click and begin! We know there are plenty more out there, but here are a few to get you started. 
  • Nike Training Club - All at-home workouts. Normally costs $14.99/month, but is free right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • FitOn - Free at-home workouts for strength, cardio, and total body workouts. 
  • Yoga with Adriene - Simple, 20 to 30-minute at-home yoga videos for flexibility, mindfulness, relaxation, and total body strength.
  • GrownStrong - Created by Laura Fisher, you can do a free 7-day trial before deciding to continue. 
  • BollyX - For a different dance experience, try this Bollywood-inspired dance workout. They offer a free trial plus free YouTube videos the entire family can do. 
  • POPSUGAR Fitness - This YouTube channel offers something for everyone - hip hop, zumba, ab workouts, cardio, ballet (barre toning), yoga, and HIIT, just to name a few.
  • Aaptiv - This audio-based app offers 2,500 music-based workouts covering categories including strength training and yoga. 
  • 7 Minute Workout - Work up a sweat in just 7 minutes and no equipment. 
  • 8fit Workouts - Get 15-20 minute workouts at home that include HIIT, bodyweight exercises, and endurance training. 
  • Adidas Training by Runtastic - This app features a workout creator that develops customized workouts based on your personal fitness goals, plus offers more than 180 standalone exercises. 
If live-streamed workouts aren’t for you, here are some bodyweight exercises you can do at home with little or no equipment:

Abdominal Exercises

  • Planks (and side planks)
  • Crunches or sit-ups
  • Bicycle crunches

Upper Body Exercises

  • Push-ups 
  • Rows (use a heavy backpack or resistance bands)

Lower Body Exercises

  • Squats 
  • Lunges (side, curtsy, step-back)
  • Glute bridge
  • Calf raises

Cardio Exercises

  • Jump rope 
  • Short-distance sprints (run across your backyard quickly, or combine that with a few body weight exercises from above to make a circuit workout) 
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks

Simple Ways to Add Physical Activity

If you aren't in the mood for the workouts listed above, here are some other around-the-house activities that can help burn calories:
  • Gardening
  • Dancing
  • Going up and down the stairs
  • Pacing during phone calls (perfect if you're working from home)
  • Walking the dog
  • Taking the kids for a stroll
  • Stretching while watching TV
  • Standing while you work instead of sitting

Stay Active to Stay Healthy

In this time of uncertainty, exercise can be a real haven for a lot of people. We encourage you to workout as much as you safely can to help reduce stress, maintain a healthy weight, and keep your immune system strong

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