Are you someone who exercises regularly? If not, it’s okay! It’s never too late to start. Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories.1 There are different types of exercises, such as swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing. Whatever you choose, being active has been shown to have many health benefits, physically and mentally. Check out these top five ways regular exercise benefits you:
1. Boosts Your Mood – Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease negative feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress.1 Have you ever heard of your brain producing something called endorphins? Endorphins are chemicals that trigger positive feelings and reduce your perception of pain. Whether you are pushing yourself at the gym or going for a walk in your neighborhood, physical activity can increase the production of these endorphins. According to Healthline, “One study asked 26 healthy men and women who normally exercised regularly to either continue exercising or stop exercising for two weeks. Those who stopped exercising experienced increases in negative mood.”
2. Lose a Few Extra Pounds – Your body needs energy to burn fat. The three ways your body uses energy are food digestion, exercise, and maintaining normal body functions. With regular exercise, your body will increase its metabolic rate and burn more calories, which can help you lose weight. To keep the weight off, it’s recommended to combine aerobic exercise with resistance training to lose fat and build muscle.
3. Good for Muscles and Bones – Regular exercise can build muscle and is good for your bones. Adding strength training to your workout routine (like lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises) can stimulate muscle-building, provided you are eating enough protein. When you exercise, your muscle fibers are damaged. As you recover from a workout, your body repairs these fibers by fusing them and releasing hormones that help your muscles grow. As for your bones, participating in high-intensity activities like gymnastics, running, or sports like basketball have been shown to promote higher bone density than non-impact activities like swimming or cycling.1
4. Increase Your Energy – Have you ever finished a workout and felt like you had more energy after than you did before? That’s because regular exercise can boost your mood and increase your energy levels. According to Healthline, “One study found that six weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 healthy people who had reported persistent fatigue. Furthermore, exercise can significantly increase energy levels for people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious illnesses.”
5. Reduce Your Risk of a Chronic Disease – Lack of regular exercise is a primary cause of chronic disease.1 With regular exercise, your body will:
a. Improve Insulin Sensitivity
b. Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
c. Improve Body Composition
d. Lower Blood Pressure
e. Lower Blood Fat Levels
With lack of exercise, you may develop some extra belly fat, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes. Exercising regularly will reduce this body fat and decrease the risk of developing chronic conditions.
Now that we have covered some benefits of regular exercise, let’s talk about the benefits of working out at home. You don’t have to go to a gym to add regular exercise into your daily routine and achieve your goals. You can easily exercise from the comfort of your own home. Here are some benefits of skipping the gym membership and working out at home.
Workout where you want, when you want. There is a certain freedom that comes with working out in your own home. Can’t sleep and feel like being active? Get on your treadmill at 2 a.m. You’re in control of your home gym. Set your own rules and your own pace, blast your favorite music, and get started.
Skip the distractions that you would normally have at the gym. From TVs to talkative gymgoers, the gym is full of distractions that can hurt your workout. Avoiding these distractions allows you to focus solely on your personal fitness goals and get things done.
Avoid the stress of feeling like you’re being watched or judged by others. Even though this is probably not true, this is a common feeling many people experience at the gym. If you want to try a new workout or exercise routine, being able to do this from the comfort of your home can help avoid the stress you may feel at the gym.
Add time back into your schedule. When you have a gym membership, you have to plan out when you’re going to wake up, get dressed, drive to the gym, etc. When you are working out from home, you can roll right out of bed and workout in your pajamas if you want to!
What if you don’t have workout machines or anything “fancy” for your workouts at home? Not a problem! Create your workouts using strength training, which helps move your body with some type of resistance. All you need for this is:
Your body weight (no weights required!)
Because strength training is versatile, you can basically work out anywhere you want! To get started, always begin with a warmup. Get your body warm by doing a light exercise for a five to 10 minutes. This can be as simple as taking a brisk walk or jogging in place. Once you are warm, you can choose to start your exercise. Here are some basic exercises you can start with, provided by Healthline:
Start by standing up tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
Step forward with your right foot and lower your hips toward the floor until your right leg is at a 90-degree angle and your left knee is parallel to the ground. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
Lengthen your spine to keep your torso upright.
Hold this position for 5 seconds or longer.
Then step your right foot back to meet your left and repeat this movement with your left leg.
Repeat 10 to 12 times, then rest briefly and do another set.
Lunge variations include walking lunges, jumping lunges, lunges with a torso twist, and side lunges.
2. Squat to Overhead Raise
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your arms alongside your body.
Slowly lower your hips down into a squat position.
Press up to come back into standing and raise your arms overhead.
Return to the starting position.
Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
Rest on your forearms and toes only, keeping your body in a straight line with your buttocks clenched and your abdominal muscles engaged.
Try to hold this position for 30 seconds. If that’s too hard, start with 20 seconds.
As you get stronger, try to hold the plank position for 1 minute or longer.
Start in a plank position with your palms directly under your shoulders.
Keeping your back flat and bracing your core, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest almost touches the floor.
Immediately push your body back up to the starting position.
Repeat 8–12 times. Start with 1–2 sets and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.
5. Resistance Band Pull Apart
Stand with your arms extended in front of you at chest height.
Hold a resistance band taut with both hands. The band should be parallel to the ground.
Keeping your arms straight, pull the band toward your chest by moving your arms outward to your sides. Initiate this movement from your mid-back.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your spine straight. Then slowly return to the starting position.
Do 1–3 sets of 15–20 reps.
6. Hip Extension
Loop the resistance band around both your ankles. You can use a chair or wall for balance.
Keeping your body upright, pull your left leg back as far as you can, keeping it as straight as possible.
Slowly return to the starting position.
Complete 12 reps with your left leg, then repeat with your right leg.
Complete 2 sets on each side. Work up to doing 3 sets as you build your strength.
7. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Pick up the dumbbells and raise them to shoulder height. Your palms can face forward or toward your body.
Raise the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended.
Pause in this position for a few seconds, and then bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
8. Dumbbell Triceps Kickback
Grab two dumbbells and hold one in each hand.
Bend your torso at a 45-degree angle and bend your elbows so they form a 90-degree angle.
Then straighten your arms out directly behind you, engaging your triceps as you go.
You can either do one arm at a time, or both together.
If you’re a beginner, start with 1–2 sets of 8–12 reps and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.
Once you finish your workout, it’s important to add in a cool down session. This is an easy exercise done for five to ten minutes, allowing your breathing to slow and heart rate to lower. You could take this time to walk or do some stretches.
Now that you have the information you need to start adding regular exercise into your routine, what are you waiting for? Start by doing some basic exercises at home and begin to experience the health benefits that come with it.