You may not be able to make it to a gym these days—or even out to the park for a brisk walk. However, you have an entire circuit, including cardio and strength training equipment, right in your own house. Stay fit and healthy while you’re social distancing by getting creative with some of your household objects. Our fitness experts have put together a list of some common items that you may have on hand to use for your home workout.
Here are a few everyday objects that you can use in your home workout to burn calories and stay strong while homebound:
1. Gallon Containers
A gallon of water, milk or laundry detergent weighs almost 9 pounds, so your containers will be effective as light weights in your home workout. Fill them with sand and they’ll be more substantial. Use them to do a simple kettle bell swing. Stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your hips. Grab the container with both hands, palms down and your arms in front of your body. With your knees slightly bent, push your hips back and place the container between your legs. You’ll be slightly bent over but not in a squat. Then, drive your hips forward, swinging the container in front of you, keeping your core muscles engaged. Work up to 10 to 15 repetitions.
2. 5-Gallon Containers
If you get your water delivered in these plastic jugs, you can turn them into substantial weights—up to about 40 pounds when full. You don’t want to lift them over your head (unless you can do something like that in the gym). However, they’re perfect for something like a deadlift, an exercise in which you lift a heavy weight from the floor to your waist then back down again. Make sure to use proper form to prevent injury.
3. Soup or Veggie Cans
Small cans make great hand weights for a home workout that call for less weight but more repetitions. For example, you can do bicep curl pulses, which work the muscles in the front of your arms. Hold a can in each hand, with your palms facing your thighs and arms down. Keep your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and keep your core muscles braced. Lift the cans up toward your shoulders and twist your arm slightly so your palms are facing upward and your elbow is pointed at the ground. You can do 10 to 15 reps or you can “pulse,” moving the cans up and down quickly for as long as you can.
Unless you live in a ranch-style home, you have a cardio machine right in the house: Your stairs. In one study, published in the British Medical Journal, study subjects climbed a public access staircase (199 steps) at a speed of 90 steps a minute. They gradually increased the number of times they climbed stairs throughout the eight-week study, starting at one ascent per day in week one and up to five ascents per day in week eight. “The study confirms that accumulating short bouts of stair climbing activity throughout the day can favourably alter important cardiovascular risk factors in previously sedentary young women,” says the researchers.
5. A Mop or Broom
You can get more out of your side oblique crunches by hoisting a mop or broom over your head. This move works the muscles on either side of your abdomen that are a critical part of your core. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and the mop or broom held over your head in a wide grip. Stretch to one side and bring the stick down as far as you can, drawing your ribs toward your hips. Do 10 to 15 reps and repeat on the other side.
6. Your Countertop
It’s easy to do countertop pushups whenever you’re working in the kitchen. You’ll be surprised how productive they’ll be! Face your countertop and put your hands on the edge, about a shoulder-width apart. Step backwards and lift your heels up so that your back stays straight like a plank. Keeping your elbows in, lower your chest to the counter and then push back up. Do as many as you can.
7. A Sturdy Chair
You’re doing biceps exercises with containers. Take on the triceps (the muscles on the other side of your arms) using a sturdy chair. In a seated position, place your hands on the edge of the chair seat, shoulders-width apart. Slide your bottom off the chair, holding yourself up with your arms, which should be straight. Keep your back close to the chair, slowly bend at your elbows and dip as low as you can. Return to starting position and do 10 to 15 reps.
8. A Really Heavy Book
A hardback Stephen King novel might not be enough. However. a big dictionary or encyclopedia added to your workout can add some resistance that can help you burn calories faster. Doing a sit up? Hold the book in both hands against your chest, then using your core (abdominal) muscles, raise your upper body up toward your knees (which should be bent at a 90-degree angle), until your forearms touch your thighs. Your hips and feet should remain on the floor. Hold for a few seconds before returning to your original position. Do as many as you can!
9. Plastic or Cloth Bags
You could even use an old backpack! Fill them with cans, books, water bottles—anything you have around that can add weight. With your makeshift hand weights, you can do everything from arm curls to deadlifts.
*Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to assess what is safe for you. Start with lighter weights and fewer repetitions and, as your workout gets easier, gradually add weight and reps so it stays challenging.