5 Home Exercises to Help You Lose Weight
Losing weight doesn’t have to involve a monthly gym membership or pricey exercise equipment. Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a tricked-out exercise bike, or if you lack the space for a treadmill or elliptical, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home that will help you shed those extra pounds.
To torch calories, burn fat, and build muscle, you don’t need any special equipment at all. At most, for some of these exercises, you’ll need an inexpensive set of free weights. All you need to lose some weight and improve your health is a good pair of sneakers, some comfy clothes, and a positive attitude.
Walking and Running
Walking is widely regarded as the best workout for beginners, and one of the most effective workouts for people who want to lose weight. Not only is it free, but it also doesn’t require any special skills or training, and you can do it pretty much anywhere.
To get the most out of walking as an exercise, aim to begin with 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace (about 4 mph) three to four days per week. As your stamina increases, you can increase the duration and frequency of your walks. When you do, you’ll improve your results: In one Harvard University study, researchers found that women who walked for 50 to 70 minutes three times per week lost an average of 1.5% of their body fat and one inch from their waistlines in just three months.
While a 30-minute walk is certainly an achievable goal, you can incorporate walking into the rest of your day, as well. Take the dog for a longer stroll than usual after dinner, park farther away from the store when you’re shopping for groceries, or, better yet, walk to the store when you can. If you have a treadmill, try walking while you watch your favorite shows. Spending an hour sweating it out will help you lose weight exponentially faster than sitting on the couch.
If walking is too easy, or if you don’t see the results you want, kick it up a notch by switching to jogging or running. The primary difference between jogging and running is speed: Anything between 3 and 4 mph is considered jogging, while running is a pace of 6 mph or faster. Running and jogging burn more calories than walking, but can also be tougher on your joints. Softer surfaces, like grass or a treadmill with built-in cushioning, can help keep you from getting too sore.
Strengthening and toning your muscles while getting your heart rate up doesn’t require any additional equipment. Body-weight exercises, for which your own body provides resistance, can be an effective way to work out at home. In fact, a 15- to 30-minute circuit of body-weight exercises can get you well on your way to your weight loss goals while also building endurance and flexibility.
Some of the most effective body-weight exercises for weight loss include:
- Burpees: Stand with feet hip-width apart, squat with your hands on the floor, push your feet back into a plank position, jump back to a squat, then jump into the air.
- Tuck jumps: Start with feet apart. Bend your knees into a slight squat, then quickly jump up and bring your knees to your chest. Immediately begin the next jump.
- Lunges, including walking lunges and lunge jumps
- Stair climbing (at a fast pace)
- Mountain climbers: Begin in plank position and bring one knee to your chest and back. Then, do the other knee. Alternate at a fast pace for as long as you can.
Some of these exercises may seem easy at first, while others (like burpees) can be challenging when you first start working out. Stick with it, and your endurance and strength will increase, dropping pounds in the process.
Not only is biking fun, but it also provides excellent cardio and strength training benefits for your body. When your goal is to lose weight through cycling, it’s important to focus on the ride’s duration rather than the distance you travel. Consider using an app to time your rides and gradually increase the length over the course of a few weeks.
If you find it difficult to find time for fitness, and you live within a reasonable distance from your workplace, bike commuting could be a great solution for you. Before hitting the road, though, be sure to tune up your bike, practice lane signals, and plan out your route carefully to use the safest roads and paths.
Although resistance training can help strengthen your muscles and burn fat, incorporating some cardio into your routine is also important for weight loss. Many experts recommend high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, for best results. HIIT can help boost your metabolism, and it burns calories for up to two hours post-workout.
The concept behind HIIT is simple: You perform your normal cardio workout, but alternate between bursts of high and low intensity for 30 seconds to three minutes. Then, you recover at a normal intensity for several intervals. Most people start with three to four high-intensity intervals and add more as they build strength and stamina.
You can integrate HIIT into any number of cardio workouts, including running, cycling, swimming, and the elliptical trainer. It’s also effective with a jump rope. In fact, even if you don’t incorporate HIIT into your workout, jumping rope is an excellent home workout that can burn calories and help you reach your weight loss goals.
A list of household chores as long as your arm doesn’t mean you have to skip your workout. With a few clever modifications, tasks like laundry, dusting, and even cooking dinner can turn into an exercise session. In fact, housework counts toward the goal of 30 minutes of physical activity each day, so while it shouldn’t be your only form of exercise, it can keep you moving and help you lose weight (and keep it off).
Here are some fun ways to incorporate exercise into your household chores:
- Plan your work so you need to go up and down the stairs as much as possible. Every time you climb the stairs, you are doing a bit of cardio and strengthening your leg muscles. For a bigger challenge, skip every other step on your way up.
- Incorporate some Pilates-type moves into your laundry folding. Fold laundry while seated on the floor. Raise your legs into a sitting V position, and twist to pull an item out of the basket. Hold the position while you fold it, then twist the other way to place it on the stack. Rest, then fold the next item to give yourself a killer ab workout.
- Sneak in some leg work. Any time you have to stand – while cooking dinner, washing dishes, or waiting for the microwave – do a few sets of calf raises or squats to strengthen your muscles.
- Put on some music. Peppy tunes can keep you motivated while you clean and might spur you to bust out some dance moves while you mop the floor or vacuum – there’s no better way to get in a little cardio boost.
Along the same lines as housework, working outside also burns calories, therefore helping you shed weight. Raking and bagging leaves, shoveling snow, and even mowing the lawn can all burn hundreds of calories per hour. You can up the calorie burn by adding some challenges, like exchanging your power mower for a push mower.
The exact number of calories you burn while you do housework varies, but just an hour of light housekeeping without modifications can burn up to 200 calories or more. So, regular housework won’t necessarily help you reach your weight loss goal if it’s your only workout, but it can certainly burn a few extra calories.
Regardless of what type of home workout you choose, talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. For the best results, choose a workout that you enjoy and could realistically see yourself sticking with. Keep at it, maintain a healthy diet, and you’ll see the pounds melt away before your very eyes.