Fitness for the Fearful


By Rachel Simons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Many people feel the urge to get fit in the new year, but don’t necessarily want to go to the gym. Not only are memberships expensive, gyms are often loud, crowded, and to the uninitiated, very boring.

If your resolve to exercise isn’t that strong, you may end up running in place on a machine for a few days and then regretting that you spent your money in the first place. Luckily, there are ways you can work out in or around your home that require little to no cost–and a couple of them are tasks that you probably need to do anyway. With these methods, even the laziest of New Year’s resolution followers will have to reach their goals.

Household Chores

Yes, chores. Like getting in shape, the post-holiday home cleanup can seem like a daunting task, but by tackling it, you can kill two birds with one stone. You may not think you are doing much, but those minor measures of calories you burn do add up.

If you have a driveway or sidewalk, shoveling snow for one hour will burn a total of 476 calories. In half that time, you will lose 225 calories by simply raking leaves.

The statistics for doing indoor work show similar results. By spending 30 minutes on each chore, you can shed 200 calories scrubbing your bathtub and shower, 160 calories washing your dishes by hand, 130 making your bed, and 125 cleaning your windows.

For those of you who spent so much time on your holiday decor and will have to spend just as much taking it all down, consider the physical benefits. You can lose 160 calories every half hour by decorating (and un-decorating) your living space.

Taking Care of Children

Everybody already knows that childcare is hard work, but it also counts as a legitimate form of exercise–especially for the endurance it requires.

“One of the most important parts of fitness is stamina,” personal trainer Gabe Ripley tells BTR. “It is also the easiest to increase, [so] just keep moving. If you maintain a healthy level of stamina, your mood will improve and your stress will decrease.”

So go ahead, play with your children, younger siblings, or even just the kids you babysit. Build pillow forts and create obstacle courses. Go sledding, skating, or make a snowman. With kids involved, the different possibilities for activity are endless. And for every hour of fun, you could shed up to 272 calories.

Using Household Items as Equipment

Wanting to stay in shape doesn’t always mean you have to frequent the gym or spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on cutting-edge machines and other fancy gear. If you browse around on YouTube, you will find numerous videos showing how you can use everyday items around the house for your workout equipment.

This video shows how you can use a broom for abdominal twists, squats, and side steps. Of those three, the first two work out your core–the lower back and abdominal muscles–and the last one improves your cardiovascular system. All of these are simple stretches and techniques that you can do multiple repetitions of for less than a minute each time.

Here you learn how to use multiple objects for a full gym-like exercise routine. Detergent bottles can be employed as weights, a stepladder can be used for step repetitions, and hooked together bungee cords can create a great resistance band. Items like soup cans, milk jugs, PVC pipes, and bags filled with laundry work excellently as dumbbells and barbells. The traditional methods are the same; it’s only the tools that are different.

So many domestic items can be repurposed for getting fit. Just take a look around what you have in your home, and use your imagination. Whether your objective is to shed multiple pounds or you simply want to feel healthier, at the end of the day, exercise doesn’t have to be difficult and agonizing.

“If you only stretch 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night you would be amazed the difference you feel,” suggests Ripley.

Simply pick a method that you feel comfortable with and stick to it even for just a couple days a week. With a routine in place and your home now doubling as a much more relaxing gym, there is truly nothing stopping you from getting over your fit-phobia.