Lots of people move workout sessions indoors when it rains or gets too cold for comfort. But it makes just as much sense to exercise inside when days grow longer and the sun burns high in the sky. In addition to summertime UV radiation alerts and the risk of sunburn and skin damage, hot weather puts your body at risk. That’s because it interferes with your natural ability to regulate temperature, opening you up to health risks. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, an average of 670 Americans die every year from exposure to extreme heat.
Whether you’re a seasoned workout pro or just starting out, you’ll want to protect yourself from summer heat by exercising indoors whenever possible. Fortunately, there is no shortage of exercises you can do indoors and many do not require exercise equipment.
To reap the benefits of exercise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, each week. In an article for WebMD, fitness consultant Michael Stefano recommended doing three or four exercises three or four days a week. “Don’t worry about how many sets,” he said. “Make it short, sweet, and intense.”
According to Stew Smith, a former Navy SEAL and writer for military.com, balance is key. Smith recommended mixing resistance training for arms, legs, chest, shoulders and torso with cardiovascular exercise. “These components together make a complete workout,” Smith wrote, “and the added cardio work will get the heart pumping faster and help maintain cardiovascular health, as well as a higher fat-burning metabolism.” Resistance training strengthens muscles by working them against a force that makes movement a challenge. Let’s take a look at some resistance and cardio exercises you can easily perform indoors.
Target: Glutes, legs, and core
Place feet flat on the ground with your weight on your heels and feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back and neck in natural alignment. Now lower your buttocks toward the ground until your thighs are slightly past parallel. Your knees should be behind your toes. Hold briefly, and return to standing position. Focus on keeping your chest up and your abdominal muscles tight during this exercise. If freestanding squats are too difficult to start with, you may try using the back of a couch or a fitness ball placed against the wall for support.
Target: Glutes, legs, and core
Stand up straight with shoulders relaxed and back. Keep your chin up, and stare at a point in front of you to avoid looking down. Step forward 2-3 feet, lowering your hips until the knee of your front leg is directly above the ankle. Your knees should both be at about a 90-degree angle, and the back knee should not touch the floor. Keeping your weight on your heels, push back to the starting position. Repeat, starting with your other leg.
Target: Legs and core—improves balance and supports proper posture
Place your forearms flat on the ground with elbows directly below shoulders. Place feet together, and balance on your toes. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your back and legs straight. If your body bends at the hips, check your form. Hold the plank for 20 seconds, and then relax. Increase the duration as you become more comfortable with planks.
Target: Upper arms and core
To do a proper push-up, start with your feet together and hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your whole body straight, and tighten your core muscles as you push up on your hands to raise yourself up. Lower yourself back down—the slower the better—and repeat. If push-ups are too challenging at first, you can put your knees down, and support your weight with your thighs. Be sure not to put the weight on your knees, and remember to keep your body straight.
Target: Glutes and back
Lie flat on your stomach with your arms straight out in front of you and palms facing down. Tighten your glutes and abdominal muscles, then lift your arms and legs off the ground. Hold for 15-20 seconds, and then relax. If Superman exercises are too much for you at first, try alternating opposite arms and legs. Lift your left arm and right leg, then your right arm and left leg.
Target: Lower abdominal muscles
Lie flat on your back with your arms at your side. Contract your abdominal muscles as you lift your lower back off the floor and raise your feet toward the ceiling. For maximum effectiveness, bring your legs down slowly until your feet are only a few inches from the floor before raising them again.
Target: Upper and lower body and cardiovascular system— agility, stamina, coordination, and strength
When selecting a jump rope, make sure it is the right length for your height. Stand in the middle of the rope, and pull the handles up. If they just reach your armpits, the rope is the right size. Start with the rope behind you. Swing it up and over your head, jumping over the rope as it comes around. Be sure to wear supportive shoes to reduce the risk of foot injuries. Once you are comfortable with jumping rope, you can intensify the workout by making two revolutions of the rope with every jump or running in place while you swing the rope.
Target: Glutes, legs, core, and cardiovascular system
Stand straight with shoulders relaxed and legs together. Jump from side to side and land softly, bending slightly at the knees. The faster the jump, the better the workout. Be sure to wear supportive shoes to reduce the risk of foot injuries.
However you work out, something is better than nothing. In an article for Scientific American, college instructor Jeannine Stamatakis said exercising can also reduce stress. “People who engaged in even a small amount of exercise reported better mental health than others who did none,” she said.
Exercising at home doesn’t always have to mean completing long, arduous workouts in one nonstop session. Make exercise part of your everyday routine—do squats while waiting for your morning coffee to brew, or walk in place as you brush your teeth. Even cleaning the house counts as exercise. And workouts can be made more fun by doing them while watching TV or listening to your favorite music. Using a timer or the length of a song can help you keep on track with your workout goals. So what are you waiting for? Start your indoor workout routine today.