Some of the equipment I have at home–functional, sturdy and easy to store in the closet when not in use!
I absolutely love exercising at home. I can wear what I like, I can check my email or listen to a webinar, and I can pace myself, based on what feels like the right next thing to do.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am an avid walker—it is such a great form of exercise, getting me in the sunshine for a splash of Vitamin D and breathing fresh air. Sometimes I’ll add some jogging to the routine, if I feel like it, whatever seems to fit for that half an hour or so that I’m out and about.
But when I’m at home and it’s time to do a little strength training and stretching, I so appreciate having some good, basic equipment on hand. These are some of my stand-bys:
Balance balls are fantastic for improving motor skills while doing different strengthening exercises. I like to use mine, doing a modified push-up, with the lower abdomen on the ball and the legs extended behind. It is also a terrific base for doing abdominal work, again, working with balance and proprioception, while allowing the sacrum to move, rather than being compressed on the ground. There are handbooks that show many different types of exercises using a balance ball that you can keep handy for reference.
Resistance bands and resistance tubing are wonderful tools for increasing strength, whether focusing on the arms, the hips, buttocks or legs. Again, there are reference tools that make using this type of equipment a breeze. As a bonus, this type of strength training equipment is inexpensive to purchase and comes in various degrees of resistance, and it won’t hurt if you drop it on your foot.
A yoga mat , whether practicing yoga or not, is another indispensable piece of equipment. It allows a little additional padding from the floor, and keeps feet and hands from slipping when stretching, balancing or doing some strength training.
A few different hand weights of various sizes are great, too. Smaller weights are easy to hold when doing interval training, such as performing a stationary squat.
In this exercise, the hands start at the shoulders, then rise over the head, then go to the floor as you squat down. This process is repeated for 20-30 quick repetitions to bring the heart rate up while strengthening all the major muscles of the body. It is a thigh- and buttock-burner!
Hand weights are also good equipment when doing chest and arm exercises with the balance ball.
And when the exercising is complete, it is really a good idea to do stretching. Having a stretching wall chart for direction and inspiration is another great tool.
I generally encourage my patients to stretch just to the point where they feel the stretch, then hold for no more than 2 seconds, then release the muscle totally, then repeat. Stretching in this manner keeps the muscle body from engaging its self-protective mechanisms that keep muscles from tearing by radical moves. Just going to the stretching point, holding for a maximum of 2 seconds, releasing, then repeating for 7 or 8 repetitions gets around this mechanism and allows for a very deep stretch.
Additionally, it is often a good idea to do a little self-massage–a body roller is a great tool for relieving tight muscles, such as the iliotibial band along the the sides of the thighs. As with the other equipment, there is educational material available to learn techniques to make your experience safe and effective.
Taking care goes beyond eating well and using healthy products—we are meant to move, and having some good, basic exercise equipment makes this effort very easy and enjoyable!