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10 Creative and Cheap Ways to Exercise at Home

Tone up while doing everyday activities, no equipment needed

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    No Gym? No Problem

    En español | Exercise is crucial to the health of your brain and body, but that doesn’t mean you have to work out at the gym. These 10 moves can boost your metabolism, improve your memory, combat stress and slim your waistline. Even gym regulars can benefit from adding a few of these moves to their daily routines. “If we had a pill that could give all the benefits that regular physical activity provides, it would be the No. 1–selling pill in the world,” says Edward Laskowski, codirector of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center.

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    Extra Steps

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Break that into chunks and take extra steps each day by moving around the house while doing everyday chores, such as putting up groceries or folding laundry. Do a “small dose of fitness” each day, even when you don’t feel like it, says Leslie Sansone, creator of the Walk at Home fitness program.

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    TV Stepping

    Americans watch an average of three hours of TV per day, according to the American Time Use Survey, conducted annually by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can enjoy your leisure time and still get in some exercise by standing up and walking in place during commercials, says Jeremy Steeves, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “The key is creating a cue, such as the commercial break, to trigger your new habit,” he adds.

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    Island Ballet

    Don’t stand around the kitchen and wait for water to boil — practice your ballet moves. Stand in front of an kitchen counter or stool and place your hands on the surface for balance. Stand on your toes to work your calves, or do pliés by turning out your toes and lowering your knees over your toes to work your thighs. By the time that water boils, you can get in several sets of 10.

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    Sofa Squats

    To break up couch time, stand up and move. The ability to rise from a seated position is a crucial measure of longevity, says a Brazilian study. Squat down until your butt touches the sofa, tighten the muscles around your core and stand back up again. “Just trying to stand more throughout the day and disrupt those long periods of extended sitting will provide health benefits,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, a public health professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. This move works great on a chair as well.

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    Stair Push-Ups

    Strengthen your arms with angled push-ups at the stairs. Face the staircase with both feet on the floor. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a step so your body is roughly at a 45-degree angle. Keeping your body straight and abs tight, lower yourself slowly, then push back up. The lower the step, the harder it will be.

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    Chair Dips

    Studies show we should take a break each hour from the computer screen to stretch and move. Sit on the chair with your hands holding the edge of the seat. Scoot to the front of the chair so that your butt is on the edge. Lower yourself off the chair and bend your elbows to work your arms. Repeat five to 10 times.“By moving just a bit more, you can move the needle on your health and burn calories,” UW-Milwaukee’s Steeves says.

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    Singing Aerobics

    While completing everyday chores such as vacuuming or mopping, tighten your core as you move forward and backward, exaggerating your movements and changing hands to give both sides of your body a workout and burn more than 40 calories each 15 minutes. Crank up your favorite tunes and belt them out to get motivated and amp up the cardio factor, Walk at Home’s Sansone says singing burns 130 calories an hour. Can’t do that at the gym.

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    Activity Bursts

    While walking around your home, make an effort to step up your fitness level and raise your heart rate. The new cardio trend is high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which you can adapt at home. Jog to your mailbox in the afternoon and then lunge from side to side before sitting down to open your mail. “We’re finding that high-intensity intervals — a 30-second to 90-second burst of activity — provide many of the same benefits that longer periods of exercise provides,” the Mayo Clinic’s Laskowski says.

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    Step Tracker Challenge

    Research shows that people stick with an exercise routine when they do it with someone else. Use a step tracker device or an app such as Matchup.io to set a goal with friends and family members to take a certain number of steps each day. You may find yourself pacing around the house to win the competition. “Create a challenge to show you’re committed,” Steeves says.

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    Make Like a Mountain

    Standing still is simple, right? But many aches and pains, including back and neck pain, are linked to poor posture. Whether you are cooking dinner or waiting for the microwave to ding, take a minute to do the mountain pose, recommends Carol Krucoff, author of Yoga Sparks. Place your feet hip-width apart. Extend the top of your head toward the sky. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and release tension in your face and throat. Align your body so that your ears are over your shoulder, shoulder over hip, hip over knee and knee over ankle. Take a few full and easy breaths, filling and emptying your lungs.

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