With the arrival of COVID-19 and the efforts to socially distance, it has never been more important to stay in shape at home. Throughout much of the pandemic, gyms have been closed, and people are more reliant than ever on exercising at home and outdoors. This is particularly true for older adults. Strength training helps to maintain healthy bone structures, improve mobility, and prevent falls. In this article, we share seven of the best strength exercises that can be done at home with little to no exercise equipment.
1. Wall Push-Ups
Wall push-ups are a modified version of floor push-ups and are a great way to keep your spine in shape. The only thing you need to complete this exercise is a wall, so it's a great one to begin with. Stand about one arms-length away from the wall. While facing the wall, place your arms flat on the wall about shoulder-length apart. It would help if you then bent your elbows as you lower your upper body slowly towards the wall. Hold this for approximately five seconds before pushing away from the wall. Complete as many reps as you feel comfortable with and incorporate wall push-ups into your daily home workout.
Step-ups are a super simple way of strengthening the muscles that support your knees. Remember to be careful with this one if you have any pre-existing issues with your knees, as this may cause inflammation of the area. You can complete step-ups on any stairs within your building or home. Starting at the bottom of the stairs, step up with your right foot. Then bring your left foot up onto the stair next to your right. While keeping your right foot on the step, lower your left foot back onto the stair below, and repeat this 10-15 times. Once you've completed the exercise with your right foot stationary, swap and keep your left foot stationary while exercising your right side.
Squats are an excellent way of strengthening your body's whole core and require no special equipment. Proper form is essential for squats, so watch a short YouTube clip to get familiar with the correct posture if you've never done one before. To begin this exercise, place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-length apart and extend your arms to be parallel to the ground. Count to five and slowly lower yourself towards the ground, keeping your arms out straight. Equally, ensure your knees don't extend beyond your toes. Count to three and slowly lift your body back up and repeat as many times as you can.
4. Hamstring Curls
Keeping your hamstrings strong helps improve your balance while walking, and also supports your knees. For this exercise, it's helpful if you can make use of a resistance band or ankle weights, whichever you have on hand. To begin this exercise, stand in front of a chair and use it to help you with your balance. To start, loop a resistance band around your ankles, ensuring you keep it looped underneath your standing foot. Then bend your right knee while bringing your foot up behind you, raising your leg towards your buttocks. While performing the curl, keep your right knee pointing toward the floor and as close to your left leg as possible. Slowly return to a standing position and repeat 10-15 times. Then swap legs and exercise your left.
5. Forearm Planks
The forearm plank is an excellent way of strengthening your whole core. It's more comfortable if you perform the plank on top of a yoga or exercise mat, but you can do it on the carpet if you don't have one. To begin, place your forearms flat on the mat with your elbows aligned below the shoulders. Your arms should be parallel to your body, about shoulder-width apart. Carefully raise your body up onto your forearms and toes. Make sure to keep your back flat and don't stick your buttocks high into the air. Hold this position for as long as you can, ideally up to sixty seconds, and then rest. You should feel your abdominals burning but don't overexert yourself.
6. Lying Hip Bridges
The lying hip bridge helps to maintain your gluteal muscles' strength in your backside, which is also the largest muscle group in your body. If you have an exercise or yoga mat, it's most comfortable to perform lying hip bridges on your mat rather than on the carpet. To start, lie flat on your back, ensuring you bend your knees and keep your feet flat. Then slowly arch your back and push up toward the ceiling by pushing your hips into the air. You should push down hard on your feet as if you are trying to push your toes out of your shoes. When you have formed a bridge, hold this pose for a few seconds and slowly return to lying flat on the mat. It will help to repeat this exercise as many times as possible.
7. Bicep Curls
Bicep curls are essential to maintain the strength in your upper body, particularly your arms and pectorals. While it's helpful to have some small weights at home to perform bicep curls, you can use any object of a certain weight if you would prefer (a weighty book, for example). When performing bicep curls, be sure to stand up straight and maintain a straight back at all times. Some people find it useful to stand with their backs to the wall when doing bicep curls. Hold the weight in your hand and slowly raise your arm towards your shoulder. Perform 10-15 reps on either side, and you can even increase the weights between reps if you desire.
Strength exercises are vital to helping you maintain your health. During this time of COVID-19, it's vitally important that you stay active at home while access to gyms is restricted. We hope the exercises outlined in this post are useful to you!
Let us know in the comments below - how do you like to stay active at home?