Working out at home is a lot easier than venturing into the wild and working out outdoors. With no wind, snow, rain, or mud, you have very little use for terms like SmartWool, Gore-Tex, or Synchilla. Working out at home is also less intimidating than going to the gym. With no one to impress, you don’t need to seek out the latest fashions from prAna or Nike, either. So you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal with home workout gear?”
Anxious much? Chronic anxiety can be debilitating, but there are a handful of natural solutions that can help you find relief — and yoga is one of the best. Practicing yoga consistently can help reduce blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates, mental agitation, and psychological distress, according to a 2015 study in The Journal of Evidence Based Medicine and Healthcare. Not sure where to start? Try the following 10 moves. Each one combines relaxed breathing with a deep stretch to ease your mind, strengthen your body, and help you feel balanced and refreshed.
If you haven’t exercised or tried to eat clean in a while (or ever!), Day 1 of a 30, 60, or 90-day fitness and nutrition program can feel intimidating.
It doesn’t have to be. Here are several small things you can do to get started. With these simple tips, you can begin to prepare your body and mind for a healthier lifestyle before you even break a sweat or eat your first green vegetable. Though you could snack on some snap peas while reading this article…
Push-ups. I bet you love them or love to hate them. Either way, this weight-bearing exercise is fantastic at sculpting your shoulders and arms, making your back look just incredible, and building up your pecs (or for us ladies, giving us a little lift).
But, they’re not easy! And, after a few sets, perhaps you’ve wondered: Can I do these on my knees instead? And, if I need to do them on my knees, should I bother doing them at all?
Articles published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed that men lifted about 66.4% of their body weight with each rep when they did a push-up on their toes. On their knees, they lifted about 52.9% of their body weight. For example, a 180-pound man will lift 119.5 pounds per rep doing a regular push-up and 95.2 pounds doing a push-up on his knees. Women lift just slightly less of their body weight per rep. So, yes, if you can’t do a push-up on your toes yet, don’t give up! You’re still getting a great workout.
If you really want to get a sense of how much you’re lifting, put your scale on level ground, place your hands on it, and do a push-up on your toes. Have a friend read the number on the scale if you cannot. Then, repeat the exercise, but this time, do the push-up on your knees.
How to do the perfect push-up:
Whether you’re on your toes or on your knees, it’s important to have the proper form. To do a perfect push-up:
1. Get into plank position and make sure your hands are aligned with your shoulders but just wider than them. Tighten your core.
2. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, tucking your elbows in as you do. When you’re at the bottom, your arms should be at 45-degree angle. Keep your back flat and do not let your back or hips sag.
Here’s a GIF showing how to do a regular push-up
And, here’s how to do a perfect modified push up. As you go down to the ground, make sure to keep your core tight and your butt tucked in. It may help to watch yourself in the mirror (or in the reflection of your TV!) a few times to get your posture right.
For the few of you who want to make your push-up harder and lift more of your body weight, here are some tips. We’ve ranked them from easiest to hardest.
1. Slow it down. By taking more time to do each repetition, you increase the time that each muscle must stay contracted.
2. Bring your hands and feet closer together to move your center of gravity forward and make your shoulders, pecs, back, and triceps do more work. Tighten your core to protect your lower back.
3. Change the angle. Place your feet on a stable surface–such as a plyo box or weight bench–and keep your hands on the ground. This puts more of your weight onto your shoulders.
4. Move away from a stable surface and do your push-ups on a medicine ball or balance ball as demonstrated in P90X2. These exercises will not only challenge those muscle groups but also force you to tighten your core to stay balanced.
5. Forget push-ups. Do handstands instead.
After spending several hours a day at a desk job or sitting in traffic while shuttling over scheduled kids from one activity to the next, it’s tempting for families to want to spend their downtime plopped on the couch. The next time you find yourself with an hour or so of unscheduled free time, grab the kids and get moving. Research shows that families that work out together are more likely to stick with it, since they can motivate and encourage each other. And exercising as a family has multiple benefits, from being able to spend quality time with those you love and committing to an active lifestyle, to reducing stress and increasing energy levels. But you don’t have to call it exercise. Here are six activities that let families play together, and promote fit and healthy lifestyles.
Play in the park. Grab an assortment of balls and equipment from the garage (soccer ball, football, basketball, and baseball and gloves), along with a Frisbee and the family dog. Pack a cooler with some water and snacks, and head to your local park with the family for an afternoon of fresh air and playtime. You’ll all have so much fun that you won’t even realize you’re getting a workout.
Go swimming. Swimming is a great way to stay in shape. It’s an excellent workout for people of all ages. Depending on the time of year and where you live, you can head to your local indoor or outdoor pool for fun and affordable family playtime. Swimming helps improve balance, endurance, and posture, and it’s one of the best forms of cardiovascular exercise. Swimming regularly can also increase self-esteem in kids as they become more comfortable in the water and learn to master their strokes. Get some rings and diving sticks, and take turns diving for them. If your kids are young, sign them up for swimming lessons—they can get their lessons while you work out in the lap lanes. Be sure young kids are never left unattended, and remember the sunscreen if you’re outside!
Take a hike. A family hike involves a little more planning than other activities, but the benefits are well worth it. Plan the trail level and hike length around the group’s abilities and experience. If it’s your first family hike, start with a mostly flat trail that’s no more than 1 mile round-trip (you don’t want to start carrying your kids halfway through the hike). Gradually increase the length and trail difficulty with each hike. Bring a few lightweight backpacks with healthy snacks and water bottles. Keep the kids interested by letting them carry the trail map, and having them look for specific items, like interesting wildflowers or rock formations. Most metropolitan towns have family friendly trails offering easy to moderately difficult hiking trails. To find a trail near you, visit LocalHikes.com.
Go for a bike ride. A family bike ride is a great way to get out of the house and get a workout at the same time. Cycling is also one of the best ways to tone and strengthen the upper leg and calf muscles. Turn a family bike ride into an outing by biking to a specific destination (maybe the corner ice cream shop for frozen yogurt?). Make sure everyone wears a helmet and the appropriate gear. And follow the rules of the road!
Jump rope. Rope jumping dates back to 1,600 AD, when the Egyptians used vines for jumping. Nowadays, it’s a great way to burn off energy, reduce stress, improve coordination and endurance, and sing your favorite rhyming songs. Jumping rope at a moderate pace can burn up to 800 calories an hour. For variety, try double Dutch, which is when a person jumps through two jump ropes at the same time. Or invite the neighbors over and have a jump-roping contest, and follow up with an assortment of healthy snacks. You just might start a new tradition.
A Few More Tips for Staying Fit as a Family
Get a pedometer for every member of the family. The American Heart Association recommends 10,000 steps a day to stay heart-healthy. Have a family contest and see who can log the most steps in a day.
Invest in a family membership at your local YMCA or recreation center. That way, everyone can work out in any kind of weather; you can choose from various activities that will appeal to individual talents and interests.
Let the kids take turns choosing a family activity that promotes fitness, and make sure everyone participates!
If your results have hit a brick wall even though you’ve been following your fitness routine faithfully, maybe it’s time to try cross training. What’s that, you say? It’s when you change your regular workout and add in other types of exercise. Here are 6 of the best reasons to cross train:
1. Prevent injury. Doing the same workout over and over again stresses joints, muscles, and ligaments without giving them full recovery. Overuse is one of the primary reasons for injury. Working the same muscles in a different way, or completely different muscle groups, can give your muscles the rest they need to help prevent problems that keep you from training!
2. Balance your muscles. By working different muscle groups, you will maintain muscular symmetry. If you’ve been doing mostly squats and lunges, focusing on your lower body, your upper body may lack the definition that your legs and buns have. Add in an upper-body workout, one that includes resistance training to help you achieve total-body balance. Plus, you’ll get the extra benefit of looking toned all over!
3. Gain strength. With cross training you can increase the overall strength of your muscles. For example, if you run, or do mostly cardio-based workouts, add a sculpting routine. Resistance training dumbbells or bands) can translate into faster running times, and better endurance, not to mention a speedier metabolism.
4. Prevent boredom. Doing the same old thing gets old. Spice up your workout by trying something—or someone—new! If you’ve been following a particular trainer’s programs, try someone else’s. Each trainer has a different style and will challenge—and even entertain you—in different ways. If you’ve done ‘em all, maybe you just need to get outside for a bit. Consider a sport that’s always interested you.
5. Keep making progress with your muscles. Progress with a training routine plateaus somewhere between 4 and 12 weeks. By changing your workout, you make more consistent progress!
6. Rest tired muscles. OK, so you don’t want to give up your workouts, but you feel like your performance is going downhill? Maybe you just need to rest the groups of muscles you’ve been working relentlessly for months on end. Give em’ a break by doing something different. Go for a hike, a bike ride, or a swim.