If you want to add gear to some of these muscle exercises, Millar suggests a set of dumbbells — 5 to 10 pounds for most people, slightly heavier for stronger men. Use these for biceps curls, shoulder press, bench press and other weight-training exercises.
For core strengthening, Millar recommends:
- Sit-ups: Lying on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent and together, come up enough to feel the engagement in your abs, then lower back down. Keep your chin off your chest and do not pull on the back of your head with your hands. Start with two sets of 15 and increase to 30, if that gets too easy.
- Side plank: Lie on your side, propped up on one elbow and raise your torso off the floor. Start by using your knee as the other contact point with the floor; eventually you want to have the knee and calf off the ground, balancing on your elbow and the side of one foot. Do three sets of 15 seconds; work up to 30-second reps.
- Bird dog: From all fours, extend one arm out in front and the opposite-side leg out behind you, with your face pointing at the ground. This shouldn't be hard, Millar says: It is a stabilization exercise for your spine. Again, three sets of 15 seconds, striving for 30-second holds. (See the Dr. Oz video titled "Rickety Table.")
- Bicycle kicks: Lying on your back, pedal your legs in a cycling motion pointed at the ceiling. Try three sets of 30 seconds each. If that gets too easy, move your legs slightly toward the floor to increase the demand on your abdominal muscles.
How much exercise is enough?
As for how much to work out, The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise — or 75 minutes of intense exercise — every week. "Most of us do moderate exercise," Thompson says, "so that's 30 minutes of exercise five days of week."
Your regimen should also include proper stretching, experts say.
There you have it: simple, effective, low-cost exercises you can do at home. If you still have excuses for slacking, share them in the comments section so we can help get you moving!