As winter rages on across the United States, it can be hard to maintain a regular exercise routine. From the west coast’s record-breaking snow and rain to the ice storms in the midwest and Nor’easters on the east coast, outdoor activities, even winter ones, may not be an option. However, there’s a solution: indoor bodyweight strength training. We’ve highlighted ten exercises you can do to be active and healthy while staying cozy indoors.
As people age, losing strength can become a significant problem leading to mobility issues that compromises your independence and quality of life. Regular strength training can help you to maintain function and independence for longer. As the book Younger Next Year notes, while aerobic exercise may save your life, strength training is what makes it worth living. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control recognizes numerous benefits of strength training related to aging, including reducing the risk of developing arthritis, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, and back pain.
In Big Retired Life’s article, A Workout Program Designed for Longevity, aging experts recommend strength training twice a week for 30 minutes. Utilizing your own body weight to build muscle mass through exercises such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and dips means there’s no equipment required. Target all major muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and back to promote overall strength and health.
It’s never too late to start strength training. Here are ten strength training exercises, recommended by Stella Bergan, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Institute of Motion Applied Health and Human Performance Specialist and owner of StellaFit. Start slow and gradually increase your reps over time.
Targets glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Bend your knees and lower your body as if sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight and your weight on your heels. Rise back up and repeat. Work up to 20 reps. Don’t do these if your knees hurt.
- Isometric Lunges:
Targets quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, step forward with one leg, and lower your body until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle. Then hold for 10 seconds. Return to your starting position and repeat on the other leg. Alternate for 10 reps. Don’t do these if your knees hurt.
- Sitting knee extensions:
Targets quadriceps, and it’s great for long-term knee health.
Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Extend one leg out straight, Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your foot back to the floor. Work up to 20 reps per leg. If your knees hurt, don’t fully straighten your legs during your extension.
- Calf raises:
Targets calf muscles.
Stand on the edge of a stair on one leg. Lower your heel as far down as possible. Then slowly lift your heel, rising onto the balls of your feet. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your heels back down to the ground. Repeat 20 times on each foot.
Targets quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves muscles.
Find a sturdy bench. Place one foot on the bench and step up onto it. Lift your other foot up onto the bench, then step back down. Repeat for 20 reps per leg. An alternative to step ups is climbing stairs.
- Standing one-foot balances:
Targets core muscles and small stabilizing muscles in your ankles.
Start in a split kneeling position with your left foot forward and right knee on the ground. Shift forward until your weight is centered on your left leg as you start to stand. Bring your left knee up into a balance position. Hold for five seconds and return to your starting position. Do 5-6 reps on each side.
Targets your back muscles and glutes.
Lie face down on the ground with your arms and legs extended. Alternate lifting one arm and the opposite leg off the ground, then switch sides. Hold each lift for 3-5 seconds. Work up to fluttering for two minutes.
- Push-up plank:
Targets core muscles.
Start in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your body in a straight line, engage your core, and hold. Work your way up to 2 minutes. If this position is too hard, this plank can be done against a walk, a table or on your knees. Don’t do this if your wrists hurt.
- Bear crawl:
Targets core and back muscles.
Start on all 4’s with hands directly under shoulders and chest centered between hands. Knees should be under hips or slightly forward of hips. Push the ground away with hands and toes and lift knees about an inch off the ground keeping spine parallel to the ground. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 4-6 reps.
Find a sturdy bench. Place your hands on the edge, fingers facing forward, hips hovering off the bench and feet planted on the ground. Lower your body down towards the ground by bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Then, straighten your elbows to return to your starting position. Repeat for 20 reps.
The information provided is to be used for educational purposes only. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute for seeking medical care. Work with your doctor and personal trainer to develop the right workout program for you.
Throughout the “Active You” section of this blog, we will introduce you to ideas on staying active and learning new things.