Best Ways to Exercise at Home

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Whether you’re allergic to the gym, want to save money or crave convenience, exercising at home is an easy choice to make. What’s more difficult is figuring out what to do. How do you set up an effective home workout? What do you do if you don’t have much equipment or space? The following series takes you through a variety of choices for exercising at home, whether you have nothing but your own body and a pair of shoes or a workout room tricked out with every piece of equipment imaginable.

Body Weight Exercise

Man doing pushups or yoga in living room

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Option 1: Body Weight Exercises – No Equipment Needed

The simplest way to work out at home is to use your own body. There are a variety of effective body weight exercises that can help you build strength, endurance and burn calories. The downside is that, without added resistance, it’s tough to work hard enough to really challenge your body and burn calories. One way around that problem? Circuit training. By going from one exercise to the next, without little or no rest, you keep your heart rate up, burn more calories and get the most out of your exercise time.

How to:

  1. Choose your workout – Cardio, strength training or a mixture of both
  2. Choose 10 different exercises – For cardio, focus on exercises with different levels of intensity. For example, you might alternate a high-intensity exercise (such as jumping jacks or burpees) with an easier move (such as marching in place). For strength training, choose compound exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, and dips to work the entire body. Exercise ideas: Step by Step Cardio Exercises, Step by Step Body Weight Exercises
  3. Choose the length of each exercise – Beginners might start with 10-30 seconds or 8-16 reps, while intermediate or advanced exercisers might go for 60-90 seconds or 20 or more reps
  4. Get Ready: Set up a timer or use a stopwatch, turn on some music or your favorite TV show and start with an easy exercise to warm up
  5. The Workout: Do 1 circuit if you’re a beginner or short on time. Do 2-5 circuits for a more intense workout

Sample Cardio Circuit Workout (No Equipment)

  • 1 min: March in place – Lift the knees high and swing the arms
  • 1 min: Jog in place, pushing the arms overhead
  • 1 min: Run in place with high knees
  • 1 min: Slow, controlled Plyo-jacks
  • 1 min: Regular jumping jacks
  • 1 min: March in place
  • 1 min: Ice breakers (jump up from a wide squat, land with soft knees while chopping the arm towards the floor)
  • 1 min: Mountain climbers
  • 1 min: Run in place with high knees
  • 1 min: March in place

Sample Strength Circuit Training (No equipment)

  • 1 min: March in place to warm up
  • Squats – 20 reps
  • Front and Rear Lunges – 12 reps on each leg
  • Pushups (on the knees or toes) – 12-20 reps
  • Dips with Leg Extension- 12-20 reps
  • Walking Lunge with Arms Overhead – 12-20 reps
  • Bent Over Leg Lifts
  • Planks
  • Bridge With Leg Drop
  • Back Extensions

Exercise Videos

Working out to an exercise video

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For variety, convenience, and more structured home exercise, you can’t beat exercise videos. There are workouts for every age, gender, goal and interest and you can workout anytime you like in the privacy of your own home. The best thing about exercise videos: There are thousands upon thousands to choose from, so almost anyone can find a video they like. The worst thing about exercise videos: There are thousands upon thousands to choose from, making the search for the perfect video an overwhelming process.

Though you can find exercise videos almost anywhere videos or fitness equipment are sold, you’ll find some of the best videos are only sold online. Below are the best resources for finding exercise videos.

Exercise Video Resources

  • Collage Video – This is by far my favorite website for researching and buying exercise videos. You can search by keyword, fitness level, instructor and much more. The user reviews and video clips make finding the perfect video a little easier. *Note, as of April 2014, Collage Video is temporarily offline, but soon to return.
  • Video Fitness – There are so many video reviews at this website, you could spend more time reading about videos than actually doing them. However, the site is well-organized and you can find videos in a variety of ways – By instructor, type of workout, fitness level and more. The reviews are posted by real exercisers, giving you more detail beyond the generic, sometimes misleading descriptions on the video covers.
  • What You Need to Know Before You Buy an Exercise Video – Here, you’ll find tips for what to look for when buying exercise videos.
  • – The online giant is a great place to find exercise videos, compare prices and read reviews about different videos and workouts.
  • – Cathe Friedrich is one of my favorite video instructions and she offers tons of videos and collections. A bonus: Cathe offers her workouts in two formats, on DVDs or as downloadable versions you can watch on your computer, smartphone or iPad.

Popular Home Exercise Videos

Best for Beginners: Leslie Sansone’s Walking at Home Videos, Shapely Girl Workout Videos

Great Circuit Training Videos: Paul Katami’s Hollywood Bootcamp 4×4, Michelle Dozois’ Peak 10 More Cardio Strength, and Cathe Friedrich’s Circuit Max.

Best High-Intensity Cardio Videos: Amy Dixon’s Breathless Body 2, Michelle Dozois’ Peak 10 Cardio Interval Burn, Cathe Friedrich’s HiiT Training

Best for Seniors: Jane Fonda’s Prime Time Firm and Burn, The Kettlebell Boomer Workout

Online Workouts and Resources

Women doing yoga at home

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The Internet may be your favorite way to waste time, but it also offers a wealth of resources for home and/or traveling exercisers. Not all content is created equal on the World Wide Web but, if you know where to look, you can find almost everything you need to know about exercise: How to set up a home gym, create your own exercise program, and learn the basics of cardio, strength training and how to get in shape with exercise.

You can also take advantage of the many websites offering both paid and free workouts and exercise programs. You’ll find workouts you can print, view online or even stream to your computer, phone or iPad.

Online Workouts from Tips For Healthy Living:

You can start right here with some of the many free workouts available to you from Tips For Healthy Living:

  • 10-Minute Home Circuit Workout
  • 30-Minute Total Body Strength Workout
  • Workout Center: Abs & Circuit Training
  • Chest, Shoulders, and Arms Workout
  • Back & Biceps Workout
  • Lower Body & Core Strength Workout
  • Total Body Home Workout With Dumbbells
  • Yoga Workout With an Exercise Ball
  • Staircase Workout
  • Bosu Ball Total Body Workout
  • Advanced Total Body Workout
  • Advanced Cardio & Strength Workout


Playing Video Games Helps People Lose Weight

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Video games aren’t just for couch potatoes anymore. In recent years, we’ve seen more and more exergames (games that actually require you to stand up and move). That fact alone makes exergames like EA Sports Active, Everybody Dance and Gold’s Gym Dance Workout an interesting option for home exercisers who find motivation hard to come by.

Keep in mind that not all exergames are created equal and some don’t have enough intensity or movement to really ‘count’ as a traditional workout. Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, for example, are great for getting reluctant exercisers off the couch, but you would still need to supplement that with regular workouts if you want to get fit and lose weight.

There are more intense exergames out there, however, offering yet one more option for home exercise:

Some of the Best Exergames for Burning Calories

  • Everybody Dance for PlayStation 3 Move
  • Zumba Fitness for Wii

iPad, MP3 and Smartphone Fitness Apps

Using smartphone fitness app

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Remember when the only thing your cell phone did was make phone calls? Now, you can waste all kinds of time with smartphone apps that allow you to do everything from playing Scrabble to exercising. Smartphones, iPads and MP3 players are excellent resources for home exercisers, particularly if you find yourself getting bored from doing the same old thing, day after day. With the right apps, you can find guided workouts, paced music, timers and more, all of which can add variety and fun to your home workouts.

Workouts, Music and Apps for Home Exercisers

  • For Cardio: BeatBurn Treadmill/Outdoor Trainer or BeatBurn Elliptical (iPhone or iPad) – If you have a treadmill or elliptical at home, workouts get tedious rather quickly. BeatBurn offers guided interval workouts complete with music and a coach who, very enthusiastically, tells you when to change your settings throughout the workout.
  • For Workouts: Workout Trainer by Skimble (iPhone or iPad) – This is another app that works great for home exercisers with a number of free guided workouts you can listen to (and view demos of each exercise, if needed) while listening to your own music. You can also pay for workouts within the app for more options and workouts.
  • For Ready-Made or Make Your Own Workouts: Fitness Builder (iPhone or iPad)- This is one of my favorite exercise apps, offering a variety of ways to exercise. You can choose workouts based on the equipment you have, the muscle groups you want to work or the type of workout you’re looking for. There are a range of ready-made workouts and you can also create your own workouts from the amazing database of exercises included.
  • For Streaming Exercise Videos – Fitness Class for iPad (iPad) – This is a free app giving you access to hundreds of streaming exercise videos (many from well-known instructors like Kathy Smith and Tracie Long) which you can preview and purchase. With the variety available, you can use your iPad to do just about any type of workout you can imagine.
  • For Paced Audio Workouts: MotionTraxx (iPhone or iPad) – This music-based app is another great option for home exercisers, particularly if you’re a walker or runner. Deekron the Fitness DJ has put together an incredible variety of music mixes, all set at different beats per minute, so you can find the perfect pace for any workout – Walking, running, lifting weights or other activities. There are also coached workouts (these cost extra) available at iTunes.
  • Best Timer for Interval/Tabata Workouts: Tabata Pro Timer (iPhone or iPad) – If you’re creative and like to set up your own interval workouts, this app is a must. It’s designed for tabata workouts (alternating hard intervals of 20 seconds with 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 4 minutes), but you can create intervals any way you like.

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