Working Out Without Equipment| Exercising Our Bodies Efficiently
The human body is designed to be the ultimate fitness equipment. We have everything we need to make our bodies flexible, strong and healthy. There is really no need to spend thousands of dollars on the latest fitness equipment, unless you are designing a very specific fitness program, and even then, you can find barely used equipment on Craig’s List or similar local sites, newspaper ads. I still have an elliptical I barely used because it felt too strange. I guess I’m one of those who would rather go hiking in the woods, swim and take my dog for daily walks.
I have always been interested in fitness and believe the keys are knowledge and motivation. I am not a certified personal trainer and highly recommend checking with your doctor before starting any new fitness program. I provide links and references at the end of this article for additional reading.
Benefits of Stretching
Improves range of motion of your joints
Helps relieve stress
Stretching the Body
There are three major areas of fitness I would like to discuss. The body needs first to be flexible, stretching the muscles and moving every part of our body, including our toes. The second requirement for our body is aerobic fitness, enabling our heart rate to increase and pump life giving blood and oxygen throughout our bodies. Third is strength training, making our muscles and bones stronger. Remember, all you need is your body and some space indoors or outdoors.
I remember when I was younger, I took dance lessons and gymnastics and although I was very athletic and had a slim build, I could never do the splits! I'm not talking about being that flexible, but flexible enough where our body is limber and has a good range of motion. Stretching has some new rules and proper stretching only requires a few seconds of isolating the muscle. The muscle is like a rubber band and if stretched too much, the muscle loses its elasticity. Stretching arms above our head and pulling for a couple of seconds is adequate, out to the side and stretch, down as far as you can comfortably stretch. These are simple stretches and feel amazing. Once you are more flexible, touching the floor with your hands flat is a great stretch for the back and legs. Yoga is also great for flexibility and stretching the body.
Having worked with young children, we often would start our day with fun, simple stretches and simple yoga stretches. Even our young children can benefit from daily stretches and it's great to get blood circulating and helps to calm their bodies.
- Stand on tiptoes,reach for the sun, hold on tight and bring it slowly (squatting) down to the ground.
- Pretend you're polishing a huge round table in front of you and stretch to reach the other side.
- Sit cross legged and hold one hand on the opposite leg, turn around slightly to see behind you.
I've also found it beneficial to stretch the entire body before getting out of bed in the morning, arms over the head and stretch the body to the toes. Stretching can be done at periodic times throughout the day, even while sitting. Once it becomes a habit, you'll find yourself doing it subconsciously. It feels fantastic!
Denise Austin Cardio Workout
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Reduces risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.
Helps to control blood sugar levels
Increases mental clarity
More energy and well being
Quick Burn Cardio - Denise Austin
Aerobic exercise increases the oxygen consumption in the body. Aerobics increase the blood flow and trains the heart under stress. Most body parts become stronger when they are used. The body is very efficient and does not waste energy feeding parts of the body that are not being used. So we need to work our body, our heart to make it stronger. We've all heard the phrase, "use it or lose it". We want to use it!
The body is truly amazing as it delivers oxygen throughout the blood during aerobic activity. The heart beats faster and in turn more blood flows to our muscles and back to the lungs. One starts to feel energized! Waste products (carbon dioxide, lactic acid) are expelled from the body and those wonderful endorphins (body's natural high) are released which gives a sense of well being. It is best, as stated above, to check with a doctor before beginning aerobic exercise. Start out slow, if it has been a while. Twenty to thirty minutes, three times a week of any of the following exercises will increase aerobic fitness without exercise equipment:
- walking briskly
Benefits of Strength Training
A stronger body can prevent injuries
Stronger bones help prevent osteopososis
Helps to raise your metabolism
A strong body can allow more fun
Strength Training Without Equipment
O.K. We're getting more flexible and our heart is pumping stronger and the oxygen and increased blood flow to our lungs is helping expel the wastes from our body. Now we need to strengthen the muscles and bones of our body. Strength training is important for both males and females. A strong body feels more balanced as we go through our day. Edward Laskowski, M.D., is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic. He states that; "strength training can help you preserve and enhance muscle mass at any age." Two to three sessions a week, lasting from twenty to thirty minutes, or broken up into two ten or fifteen minutes sessions also works. Make sure there's a day of rest in between the days to rest the muscles. Here are a few examples of simple strength exercises that can be done easily without equipment.
- push ups, regular or modified
- counter top resistance exercise
- pull ups ( a bar across top of doorway) or the local playground
- sit ups (strengthen the core, abdomen)
Conclusion: Healthy and Strong
I'm sure if you've read this far, your goal is to be healthy and strong and you're ready to take the steps necessary. Even without equipment, our bodies can be flexible by stretching, full of energy and healthier by ridding our bodies of toxins with aerobic exercise. We can strengthen our bones and muscles enabling us to be strong and enjoy our lives, engaging in activities that are fun and meaningful. Best of luck with all of your fitness goals!
- Yoga Journal - Yoga Well-Being - Count on Yoga: 38 Ways Yoga Keeps You Fit
Are you looking for reasons to start practicing? Here are ways yoga improves your healthreasons enough to roll out the mat and get started.
- New Rules of Stretching - National Geographic Adventure Magazine
New stretching exercises for outdoor athletes from National Geographic Adventure.
- Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical - MayoClinic.com
Need inspiration to work out? Consider the top 10 benefits of aerobic exercise.