How to Get a Total Body Workout Without Belonging to a Gym

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You don't have to belong to a gym or own a home gym to improve your health and fitness. With a small area to work and common items found in your home, you can condition your cardiovascular system and build muscular strength and endurance without space-consuming equipment or expensive membership fees.

Things You'll Need

  • Athletic Shoes
  • Cross-training Shoes
  • Athletic Gear
  • Dumbbells
  • Jump Ropes
  • General Fitness Videos
  • Yoga Video

Cardiovascular Conditioning (Aerobic Exercise)

  • Choose a favorite aerobic activity you can do outdoors. Examples may include walking, running, hiking, biking, inline skating, soccer or tennis.

  • Rent or check out an exercise video. From kickboxing to step aerobics, there are numerous videos to choose from.

  • Mow the lawn with a push mower, vacuum the carpet, shovel snow, or carry groceries or a filled laundry basket up a flight of stairs - these are ways to incorporate activity while checking off chores on your to-do list.

  • Turn on your favorite music and dance.

  • Organize a game of flag football, kickball, soccer or any group sport you enjoy.

  • Jump rope for an inexpensive way to get cardiovascular exercise.

  • Check your local park for a fitness trail with exercise stations placed along the path. The stations often have instructions on how to perform the exercises.

Strength Training and Conditioning - Lower Body

  • Try some squats: Stand in front of a chair or bench with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees as though you're sitting on the chair, keeping your weight on your heels. When your upper legs are parallel with the seat of the chair, slowly rise to your original standing position.

  • Opt for plié squats: Take a wide stance with your toes pointing outward at about a 45 degree angle. Standing upright, slowly bend your knees in the direction of your toes until you can no longer see your toes. Squeeze your inner thighs as you slowly return to the starting position.

  • Do some wall sits: With your back flat against the wall, move your feet away from the wall so that the wall is supporting you. Bend your knees so that your legs form a 90-degree angle as if in a seated position. Hold for as long as you can. Start with 30 seconds or less and work up to 90 seconds.

  • Go for a lunge: With your arms by your side, take a giant step forward with your right leg so your thigh becomes parallel with the floor as your left knee dips down. Be sure your front knee does not go past your toe. Pushing backward off the same leg, return to your starting position. Repeat with the left leg.

  • Burn those buns with a gluteal squeeze: While sitting or standing, squeeze the muscles of your rear end. Hold, then relax.

  • Try some calf raises: Stand on a set of stairs with your heels off the edge of a step. Holding onto the railing, lift your heels, then lower.

  • Include toe raises in your regime: Sitting in a chair or standing, lift and lower your toes while keeping your heels on the ground.

Strength Training and Conditioning - Upper Body and Abdominal Muscles

  • Do some push-ups: Depending on your fitness level, you can do them standing and facing a wall, on the floor with your knees bent, or on the floor with your legs straight and toes touching the ground.

  • Try seated rows: Sitting on the floor with your legs straight, wrap an old T-shirt or stretchy exercise band behind the soles of your feet. With one end in each hand, squeeze your shoulder blades together by bringing your elbows behind you while stretching the T-shirt or band. Return to the starting position.

  • Work your arms with dips: With the palms of your hands on a chair or bench and your feet on the floor, scoot your rear end off the end of the chair. Bend your elbows, lowering your body, then straighten your arms to return to the starting position.

  • Pick up some dumbbells or use makeshift weights, such as water-filled milk jugs, soup cans, water bottles, or filled plastic or cloth grocery bags (with handles).

  • Shrug with shoulder raises: With or without weights in your hands, raise your shoulders up toward your ears, hold, then relax.

  • Opt for the shoulder press: With a weight in each hand, bring your hands up to ear level with your arms forming 90-degree angles at the elbow for the starting position. Straighten your arms above your head. Return your hands to their starting position.

  • Do some lateral raises: Holding weights by your side, raise both arms out to the side no higher than shoulder height. Slowly lower.

  • Be creative with bicep curls: Holding a filled grocery bag in each hand, arms and elbows tucked in by your sides, bend your elbows, bringing your hands up toward your shoulders with your palms facing you. Slowly return your hands down by your sides.

  • Get down with crunches: Lying on your back with your knees bent, reach for your knees, hold for two counts, then return to the floor.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always begin your activity gradually to warm up the body.
  • Strive for at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week.
  • Choose the proper equipment and clothing for your particular sport or activity. You'll be more likely to exercise even in inclement weather.
  • Exercise with a friend to make it more enjoyable and to help you stick with it.
  • Cross-train by varying the type and length of aerobic exercise you do. This will help keep you from getting bored or injured.
  • Lower body exercises can be done with or without weights. If you don't have dumbbells grab makeshift weights such as water-filled milk jugs, soup cans, water bottles, filled plastic or cloth grocery bags, or a backpack filled with books or similar items to add weight.
  • If you're new to exercise or strength training, it is advisable to first exercise with a personal trainer or a knowledgeable friend to make sure your form is correct and to fine-tune the exercises to meet your goals and ability.
  • Perform the exercises slowly and in a controlled manner.
  • Repeat each exercise until you feel fatigue in the muscles being worked.
  • Any activity is better than none. Performing just a few exercises can have positive health benefits and burn calories.
  • Upper body exercises can be done with or without weights.
  • Be sure to stretch upon completion of your workout. Yoga videos can often provide good examples of stretches.
  • Always consult your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
  • If you have any back, neck, shoulder, knee or other orthopedic concerns, consult with your health care provider before engaging in an exercise program. Be sure to follow proper lifting technique.
  • If at any time an exercise doesn't feel right, stop immediately.
  • Do not hold your breath while lifting weights or performing exercises. Remember to breathe out as you lift the weight or when you exert yourself.
  • If you have any back, neck, shoulder, knee or other orthopedic concerns, consult with your health care provider before engaging in an exercise program.
  • Be sure to follow proper lifting technique.

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