12 exercises you can do without going to the gym

Man exercising at home

Going to the gym is not for everyone. You know you need to exercise, but maybe working out at a gym sounds overwhelming, or just isn't your thing. Here’s the good news. You don’t have to go to a gym or have fancy exercise equipment to exercise. 

Do I really need to exercise?

You’re active during the day. Isn’t that enough?

"It’s a common question, but what many people don't understand is the difference between physical activity and intentional exercise,” says Lauren White, former physician assistant at the Nebraska Medicine Bariatrics Center. “Physical activity is any movement that requires energy. Intentional exercise, on the other hand, is a structured, planned, repetitive movement that improves overall health and is the most effective means of losing weight and keeping it off." 

Need help with weight loss? 
Our Bariatrics Center offers several weight loss options to help you reach your goals. To register for a free information session, please call us 402.559.9500.

There are many benefits to incorporating intentional exercise into your daily routine. “Exercise helps you better deal with stress, anxiety and depression,” says Nebraska Medicine exercise physiologist Heather Shafer, MS. “It also decreases your risk for developing chronic diseases like heart and pulmonary disease, hypertension and diabetes, and improves your overall health and wellbeing.”

For maximum health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. This can be divided into 30 minutes a day, five days a week for moderate exercise, or 15 minutes a day, five days a week for vigorous exercise.

Simply walk your way to better health

Walking is always a great way to work exercise into your daily routine. However, if you find you don’t always have time to set aside 30 minutes or more to walk, Shafer suggests walking in 10 minute chunks of time while you carry out your daily routine.

She suggests the following ways to work in small bouts of exercise as you go about your daily routine:

  1. When you go out to get the newspaper, take a brisk 5 to 10 minute power walk.
  2. While house cleaning, work in an occasional 5 to 10 minutes of jumping jacks or mountain climbers.
  3. If you are at the park with the kids, play with them. Shoot hoops, play catch or simply stroll around the park while they play.
  4. Instead of sitting in your car while you wait for your child’s practice to end, bring your sneakers and get in a quick walk or run.

You don't need a gym to try strength training

Shafer also recommends including strength training into your routine at least two to three times a week. Strength training increases muscle mass, which increases your resting metabolic rate and burns more calories. She suggests these exercises to help you work all of the major muscle groups.

1. Wall sits
Standing with your back against a wall, slowly lower your body down into a sitting position with your knees above your ankles. Gradually increase the amount of time you hold yourself in that position.

2. Planks
Lie face down with your hands or forearms on the floor and your legs extended. Press yourself up to form a straight line with your body and hold, gradually increasing your hold time.

3. Calf raiser
Rise up on your toes and repeat. You can also stand on the edge of a step and raise your heels.

4. Superman
Lying face down, raise your arms and legs in an outstretched position and hold.

5. Sit ups
Lay on the floor with a slight bend in your knees. With your elbows behind your head and maintaining space between your chin and chest, lift your upper body a few inches off the floor.

6. Squats and lunges
Slowly lower your body down like you are going to sit in a chair. Make sure your knees are always behind your toes. For lunges, keep a wide space between your feet. Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90 degree angle. Raise your hips and repeat 10 to 15 times. Repeat with your other leg.

7. Curls
Use weights or soup cans and slowly curl the weights up while contracting your biceps.

8. Push ups
While cooking dinner, do some push ups against the counter or wall while you are waiting for the water to boil.

“Remember, consistency is key,” says Shafer. “It’s better to exercise in short bouts throughout the week, rather than once for 30 minutes. Enlist a friend or family member to exercise with you and/or share your goals with them for support and to hold you accountable.”