Home exercise ideas
September 7, 2020 9:02 PM   Subscribe

What kind of at-home exercise are you doing? Please help me find something I will stick with.

I'm middle aged, not athletic, need more exertion for my mental health. Stuff I do now that I like is walking in the hills with my dog (gentle hiking I guess), and riding my bike, though I'm not a speedster in that dept either. I'd like to add-back some higher exertion activities. In the past I've enjoyed boxing (worked because I had a coach standing over me! Great workout but I would not do this level of exertion on my own probably). I've also enjoyed a few spin classes though I didn't stick with that. Yoga is.. OK. Going to the gym and watching a movie while elipticaling worked fine. I tried running (using Zombies Run app, which I really liked), but injured my knee and decided that, along with finding it very boring, running is not good for my middle aged, mid-sized body.

What are you doing at home to get exercise right now? I have a Switch if fitness games are your advice. I could probably afford a second hand home exercise machine of some kind (not buying a peleton but an exercise bike I could swing). Videos? What do you do at home to get your heart rate up without dying of boredom.
posted by latkes to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (27 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I like to jump rope. You can get new ropes with digital counters and timers.

Also good is Darebee, which has many programs and workouts at various levels. It has filters to help find something you like.
posted by NotLost at 9:12 PM on September 7, 2020 [4 favorites]

I'm on Zwift which is an online massively-multiplayer cycling game. Since you already have a bike, it requires a bike trainer that attaches to your bike and sends power information to a computer (or iPad, or phone if that's all you have).

I've talked about it a bunch of times here (1, 2, 3).
posted by meowzilla at 9:46 PM on September 7, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm late 50s and started with dumbbells in the beginning of the year. I had a bit of a setback in that I tried higher weight/lower reps and messed up some of the tendons in my forearms but I'm back to 3x12s with the dumbbells and also things like pike pushups, rubber band exercises for my shoulder girdle and have added a set of rings to my chin up bar, so I can do dips and reverse rows.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:58 PM on September 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I use my bicycle for commuting and shopping etc. The key here is objective based exercise. Exerting yourself to get something done is a good motivator, at least for myself. Also the fact that I know I'm not spending money on car fuel, and that I'm reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

You don't need a fancy bike, or to wear cycling clothes. I upgraded my bicycle after a few years as I started doing longer distances, but don't feel the pressure to buy an expensive bicycle. I still use normal pedals on my bicycle and don't 'dress up' to go to the store. Feeling the need to change into athletic clothing every time you want to go for a cycle or walk can be a big demotivator. Don't think of it as exercise, just as a way to get around at a slower pace with time to think and enjoy the view.

I also enjoy pilates, I find it challenging, but slow and meditative. I'm almost 50 and have picked up injuries along the way. Pilates allows me to push my body without injuring it more. There are plenty of online videos, but I'd suggest taking a few zoom classes to learn the basics.
posted by BrStekker at 10:32 PM on September 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

Just to add, life long moderate exercise is a really good thing. My mother lived to almost 90, was still driving her car in her early 80s, she loved walking, to the store, to the beach. When cancer slowed her down in her mid 80s and she moved to an assisted living home, I could see the difference between her and the other inhabitants. Despite her frailty, she still had a strong drive to keep moving and remain active.
posted by BrStekker at 10:44 PM on September 7, 2020 [6 favorites]

I started with a jump rope sometime in April, and that was fine for a while, except it didn't really jibe with my pandemic lifestyle of staying up late to work on music and creative projects. By the time I got outside in the mornings, the SoCal heat was frying. It was a great way to kickstart my cardio after waiting out the entire first month of the pandemic, hoping it would pass, but I couldn't work around the time/heat restriction.

Prior to the pandemic, I was going to spin class almost every day. You said you didn't quite take to that, so I respect if it's not your thing, but I did end up acquiring a SPIN R3 second-hand for $400. That may be outside your budget, but if you don't want to go full Peloton, it's a good bargain if you can find one. I also appreciate that it has a relatively compact form factor.

The nice thing about spinning at home is that you can tie it into other passive activities (catching up on shows, watching livestreams, etc.) and not necessarily have to go into heads-down cardio mode, which may have been an intimidating factor from your spin experiences. I personally like to replicate my spin classes by throwing on some energetic tunes and strapping on a heart rate monitor, but you can roll your own when it comes to that. Also, being indoors means I can do it any time of day, which considerably frees up my schedule and alleviates the anxiety of feeling like I blew it first thing in the morning.

I ended up with various knee / lower back / plantar issues from a decade of overenthusiastic running in my 30s, so most of all I appreciate the fact that it's low-impact, but I can totally push myself into the red if I really need the kick that day.

On a lower budget, some folks dig the bike trainers that you attach directly to your existing bike, but for my kind of riding (alternating hard and fast, interval-style), those wouldn't work for me. In your case, it might.
posted by mykescipark at 10:46 PM on September 7, 2020

It looks a little silly but Nintendo's Ring Fit Adventure is a great way to do a bit of exercise regularly. It's low impact, gets your blood moving, you do various movements and poses, and generally don't do it for more than 20 minutes or so. It's fun and not condescending or judgmental or pushy.

Another thing I've been trying to do is simply add up 100 push-ups every day. If, while you're down there, you happen to plank a bit or do some leg lifts and mountain climbers, that's just more good stuff.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:53 PM on September 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

I recently picked up a secondhand rowing machine and it's been a great way to get a full-body strength and cardio workout. There are some good beginner videos on YouTube I used to check my form and get the hang of it. Now I just turn on a 30 minute tv show and row away.
posted by platinum at 12:30 AM on September 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was me a month ago: "I'm lazy. I don't like exercising for the sake of exercising. Gyms make me anxious. Walking is OK but it's not enough. I need to build strength and stamina efficiently, I don't have all day. And I don't want something that makes me feel like I've been beaten up from the inside."

So I bought a WaterRower because it's efficient, rhythmic, low-strain, with great visual and aural aesthetics. It doesn't even seem like exercise, it's just something I like to do when I don't need to be upright.

On preview: row-on, platinum.
posted by Thella at 12:39 AM on September 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

A friend of mine recently got me into swinging Indian clubs (from here; they have lots of videos and a "why should I do this?" page) after I complained about somehow goofing up my shoulder while sleeping and not knowing how to fix it. It is (a) a kick-ass workout and (b) SO MUCH FUN. Like, it feels like a wacky juggling act that makes you feel like a super-coordinated badass, even though it's genuinely a workout, working both strength and low-impact cardio. The drawback is you need a decent amount of space in front of the computer/tv to follow along with videos, because you are swinging water bottles around you in all directions, but if you don't have a chandelier above your tv you're probably OK. As equipment goes, it's pretty cheap too (the starter kit with the handles and intro videos, which are a workout in their own right, is about €40; I also added the optional weight inserts for an extra €10). It's really fun. Watch a couple of videos, play around with swinging your arms in the motions to see if you like it and if you do, maybe give it a shot!
posted by sldownard at 1:21 AM on September 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

You could also just walk up the hills faster! When I lived in the east bay, I would jog from the Berkeley campus to the first big hill on the fire trail off Centennial Drive, and power walk up and down that hill 8-10 times.
posted by rockindata at 3:22 AM on September 8, 2020

This might not be the kind of thing you want to buy (or might be more than you want to spend), but I've had a lot of success with VR-based fitness programs. You mentioned enjoying boxing, and games like BoxVR and Dance Collider give a really good boxing-style workout. You can change the difficulty to make a session more or less intense, and personally I find being fully immersed in the game landscape with music blaring in my ears makes it much easier to complete a workout with much less risk of getting bored/distracted and drifting off compared to watching a video or trying to work out on my own without external stimulus.
posted by terretu at 3:38 AM on September 8, 2020

Shovel glove is inexpensive and effective, highly customizable, and you can do it inside a small room.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:41 AM on September 8, 2020 [5 favorites]

I've been recommending Team Body Project a lot lately. If you like the free videos on youtube you can go to the website and pay for access to hundreds more and specially designed programs, but you can get great results with just the free stuff.
posted by JanetLand at 6:39 AM on September 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I also came here to recommend the body project videos.

You could also try some tougher/longer hiking trails, or just walking faster or going hiking more often - it ends up being a surprisingly heavy workout if you're going uphill much. Your dog would probably love checking out some new trails, too.

I have a really hard time self-motivating and sticking to things but I've been doing pretty well at keeping up with workout videos 3 days a week (my personal rule is I can do a super short workout video on bad days, even down to 5 minutes occasionally if I really can't manage more, but can't skip a day or stop early). I get bored repeating videos so I often just search youtube for "20 minute low impact workout" or something similar and try whatever pops up. If I like the workout I'll subscribe to the channel and try their other videos next time.
posted by randomnity at 7:20 AM on September 8, 2020

When I had a fitbit, it was really motivating. I just used the step counter, and it made me want to reach a goal. It died; I should get a replacement.

Weight lifting - you can start with water bottles 16oz = 1 pint = 1 pound. A 1 liter bottle is 2.2 lbs. Swinging a lb in each hand as you walk gets you started. Once you get beyond 2 liter bottles, invest in weights.
posted by theora55 at 7:25 AM on September 8, 2020

I'm in my 50s and I've really been enjoying Orange Theory's YouTube channel, where they're posting daily workouts. Some of the plusses:

-- The setup and instructions are very clear, and it's very easy to see how much time you are going to be doing one exercise, how much time is left, etc.
-- These are all workouts meant to be done at home, inside.
-- Some workouts are truly zero equipment. Some call for easily accessible items: a chair; one weight (can be a filled water bottle, for example, or a dumbbell, or a thick book); or two weights (two filled water bottles will easily work). You can look around your house for other things to use as weights. The other day the demonstration showed a person lifting a ski boot in each hand. Other times I've seen bricks used.
-- For most exercises, they demonstrate an easier version. I'd also say to you that for any exercise they show with a weight, you don't have to use any weight at all.
-- The workouts I've seen have been between 30 - 50 minutes, and this includes warm-up and cool down.

I am using these as part of my daily "stuck at home" routine and I am finding them very helpful. Especially because there's a new one every single day. So my mantra sometimes is just "do the posted workout" and I can commit to that without having to think too deeply about it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:46 AM on September 8, 2020

Indoors: Try a 5 minute plank challenge. Starts off easy but gives you something tangible to aim for.

Outdoors: Try trail running! Much easier on the knees and way more interesting than road running.
posted by andythebean at 8:05 AM on September 8, 2020

Back when I was able to, adding wrist and ankle weights to my daily walks made them more intense.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:13 AM on September 8, 2020

Put on some music and dance to it strenuously. Put on the kind of music that was your favourite at dance clubs when you were young. Relive that dance experience just moving to the music the way you did when you had a couple of drinks and were not self conscious. If you did that.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:22 AM on September 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Doing high-intensity & strength exercises outdoors has made all the difference for me. Sometimes I joke that if I simply dug holes in the ground and refilled them every day I get a better (and certainly cheaper) exercise than Cross-Fit.

Get yourself a tractor tire and weighted sledgehammer from Ryan J. Pitts, and hit it using a Tabata protocol. Or another exercise I love is simply pushing a wheelbarrow full of concrete blocks up a hill. Something about the need to constantly make quick adjustments to the wheelbarrow to keep it from tipping over requires intensity and focus that I wouldn't get with many other exercises.

I also tried sandbag exercises, but that did not click with me.
posted by superelastic at 9:06 AM on September 8, 2020

Slack line yoga might be more fun than regular yoga
posted by aniola at 11:27 AM on September 8, 2020

Just Dance 2020 (Switch game) and a treadmill at my work desk are my primary resources for exercise right now.
posted by crunchy potato at 11:51 AM on September 8, 2020

Late 40s here. I've been dancing at home to the Fitness Marshall on YouTube. You can select video-by-video and dance for free AND/OR you can join (and pay for) his 'booty army' to get a whole 1-hour routine every week (plus extras). I just pick out songs/routines I like and dance to those. It's pretty fun if you can get over the notion of 'dancing with yourself'!

Note: You might find it a little overwhelming at first to get the hang of the dance moves, but so long as you're moving, you're getting things done! And you'll soon pick up the patterns, and improve your brain at the same time.
posted by Halo in reverse at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2020

Bit of a different approach, but I’ve added weight training at home once or twice a week. I’m also thinking about hiring a virtual coach.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:40 PM on September 8, 2020

Speaking as a person who was sedentary pre-pandemic and has gotten super into Youtube workouts as a way to keep sane:

I really like Kukuwa Fitness which is an afrobeat dance fitness routine. They don't do a lot of jumping so it's low impact on the joints, but it's a pretty intense workout all the same, and the combo of the music/dancing/backgrounds makes me feel sunny and optimistic.

I also love 305 Fitness, dance cardio classes with live DJs from mostly NYC/Miami, they have a lot of queer and POC teachers, they're goofy and body positive and wear pink/leopard outfits and sweat and twerk and talk about Black Lives Matter. Though I have to modify 75% of the workouts to suit my (much lower than theirs) level of athleticism, I found them at the beginning of the pandemic and have gotten so much from their Youtube channel.

And seconding the recommendation for Fitness Marshall. He's a professional dancer who wanted to grow up to be Britney Spears and is super fun to watch (although I have to cue myself to his backup dancers because trying to be Fitness Marshal made me throw my back out once haha). He produces medium-chill workouts, with backup dancers, to pop songs.

If you have an iPhone I recommend the app Skimble Workout Trainer, which offers prefab trainings (while listening to music that's on your phone) and also lets you input your own workout, item by item. And I like Lazy Monster, an app with several 7-minute workouts led by a cartoon monster-blob, which I do when I want an exercise snack. And did you know that Zombies, Run can be used for non-running exercise (you can Zombies, Walk or Zombies, Rowing Machine or even Zombies, Clean House)? And also the Zombies app now contains at least one home bodyweight workout.

Finally, I remember that there used to be a place where Mefites joined together to attain goals -- Health Month? It would be cool if we had a Mefi Fitness Cadre somewhere so we could encourage each other -- this winter home workouts are going to be so important to so many people's physical and mental health!
posted by hungrytiger at 2:28 AM on September 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I bought Just Dance 2020 and a second hand rowing machine and both are working great for me so far. Thanks so much for all the suggestions!
posted by latkes at 11:58 AM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

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