The word “gym” scares you? Here’s how to get fit at home

You want to get fit. You know you must get some exercise into your routine, but you just don’t like going to the gym. The idea simply turns you off. Here’s a little help. There are some go-to fitness tips to help you fight weight gain and maintain your muscle tone — even when you can’t (or don’t want to) get to the health club.

Due to the hectic work hours people put in, experts are actually encouraging folks to exercise at home. This way, they are more apt to adopt fitness as a lifestyle. The key is to do something, somewhere, sometime. So, let’s get started!

Think fit balls, dumbbells, exercise bands or tubing, and push-up bars. They are an inexpensive way to create a routine that works all the major muscle groups. But even with no props or machines, you can build muscles and burn calories.

The five elements of fitness consist of a warmup, a cardiovascular workout, resistance (strength-building) exercises, flexibility moves and a cooldown.

A warm-up could be an easy walk outside or on a treadmill, or a slow pace on a stationary bike. For the cardiovascular portion, walk or pedal faster, do step aerobics with a video, or jump rope — whatever you enjoy that gets your heart rate up.

The resistance portion can be as simple as squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches. Or you could work with small dumbbells, bands or tubing.

Increase your flexibility with floor stretches or yoga poses. And your cooldown should be similar to the warm up: cardiovascular work at a low level to bring the heart rate down to a resting state.

If on any day you don’t have enough time, just increase the intensity of your workout. Instead of your usual 45-minute ride on the stationary bike, choose a harder program for 25 minutes and really push yourself. Choose the walk uphill, or jog instead of walking.

You can also step up the pace of your strength workout by doing exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time. For example, doing squats (with or without weights) works the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, and calves. Push-ups involve the pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps, even the abdominals and the upper back.

To start with, aim for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times a week, and 20 to 30 minutes of strength work three times a week. Be sure your strength workout covers all major muscle groups, in your upper body, lower body, abdominals and back. Shoot for three sets of 10-15 repetitions of each strength exercise.

No matter what type of exercise you do, be sure to start slowly and gradually increase your workout time and intensity.

Tips for home exercisers

  • Challenge yourself and avoid boredom. At home, you won’t have the variety of equipment and classes that are available at a gym. So surf the Internet and browse fitness magazines to check out new workouts and make sure you’re exercising correctly.
  • Find an exercise partner. You’ll be less likely to find excuses when you’ve arranged to work out with a friend.
  • Schedule your workouts.
  • Perhaps most important, make exercise as integral to your life as sleeping and eating. You have to think of it as a lifestyle change. It doesn’t end. Get out of the mind frame that exercise is something you’re only going to do for a period of time.
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Mondanité is Lebanon’s leading lifestyle and social magazine. Well-known for its broad coverage of the society hot spots; every party and every big event Lebanon is hosting.