Keeping Fit for Free

A monthly or yearly gym subscription isn’t something everyone can afford. You also might not feel you’re getting your money’s worth if you’re not the type to attend the various fad-fitness classes that gyms offer or are on too tight a schedule to fit these in. Luckily, gym isn’t your only alternative. Keeping fit at home is a perfectly viable option, as long as you have the motivation.

Warming up

Making sure you stretch properly first is vital to a successful and pain-free workout. After some stretches, it’s also important that you do some cardiovascular warm-ups. Walking or jogging for 5 to 10 minutes, around the block or even just on the spot in your bedroom, is an excellent way to do this.

Crunches

Like sit-ups, crunches work out your abdominal muscles. Lie flat on your back with your knees at about a 45-degree angle to the ground. Starting with your hands on your thighs, slowly lift yourself up – using your stomach muscles, not your arms – until your hands are on your knees, and hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds, or until you feel a slight burn. Two sets of 20 crunches will give you a great abdominal workout.

Push-ups

Although difficult for some, push-ups can be more easily accomplished if you push yourself off a higher surface, like the edge of your bed or a bathtub, instead of off the ground. When letting yourself down and bringing yourself back up, it’s important not to arc your back. Arching your back will prevent your arms from getting a proper workout, and could potentially damage your back. Keep in mind that the lower the object you’re pushing yourself up from, the greater the workout will be. Two sets of 15 push-ups will give your arms some excellent exercise.

Bunny Hops

Bunny hops provide a great workout. They keep your heart rate up, as well as working your legs and your core. Using a marker on the ground, make small fast jumps over it forward and backward, keeping your knees bent at all times. Two sets of 1-minute bunny hops should get a good sweat  going.

Squats

Squats can be excruciating but are also an excellent way to work out your legs, core and arms – especially if you include some weights. Using something like a heavy book, or a dumbbell if you have one, stand against a wall with your legs a shoulder width apart, and slowly lower yourself down, keeping your back against the wall. Stop once your buttocks reach your knees at a 90-degree angle and hold the position as long as you can. Repeat this 5 to 10 times, and you’ll feel the burn.

Tricep dips

Tricep dips are best performed on the edge of a sturdy surface, like your bed, a bathtub or a sofa. With your fingers pointing toward yourself, grab onto the edge of the surface, facing away from it, and slowly lower yourself by bending at the elbows. Then straighten your arms to push yourself back up. The straighter your legs are, the better. The longer you hold the position in which you feel the burn, the more effective your workout will be.

Cooling off

As essential as warming up, cooling down will give your body the chance to recover from a hard-core exercise session. Doing some long, slow stretches of the muscle areas that you’ve worked in a session can prevent pain and subsequent injuries, and help ensure your body is ready for more exercise by the time of your next session.

Fitness fanatic Jeff usually writes for IFC, a reviewer of medical aid providers in South Africa.


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