The Stuck-at-Home Workout

When weather or circumstances leave you housebound, don't throw in the fitness towel.
Published December 14, 2015

Some days the weather just doesn't cooperate with your workout. But when you're stuck inside, neither rain, nor snow, nor heat should get in the way of your activity. By picking up the pace of your usual housework and sneaking in some aerobic moves and toning exercises, you'll have done a total-body workout in no time!

The trick? Just try to get your heart rate up — exercise at a level no higher than you would rate as feeling "somewhat hard." Talk to your doctor about the right routine for you, but a good plan to start with is 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days — try three to four times a week at first. When you get the hang of that, add strength training and toning exercises — go for three times a week. Always gradually warm up with mild calisthenics and light stretching before working out (you never want to over-stretch a cold muscle), and cool down by gradually tapering your exercise intensity. This is a good time to focus on flexibility exercises.

Power chores

Crank up the music and throw yourself into the household tasks below to maximize calorie burn and muscle build.

  • Suck it up. Vacuuming is great exercise, especially if you make a conscious effort to concentrate on tightening your muscles as you push and pull the machine. Your carpets — and your biceps — will thank you for it! For an extra challenge, swap arms halfway through.
  • Wipe on, wipe off. Washing your windows makes for a great stretching and toning exercise. Put some muscle into it for high shine and major toning: the combination of up and down movements will work wonders on your arms and shoulders.
  • Get organized. Been putting off that major reorganizing project? Call it exercise and get it done! Take the contents of your pantry, bookshelves, linen closets, etc. out, then reach up and put them back in, in order. You're getting in another great upper-body workout!

  • Turn your home into a gym. Periodically, take little breaks to do these moves:

    Stair Dips: Sitting on the bottom step, knees bent and leaning on your heels, put your weight on your hands and lift your body up and down 12 to 25 times to work out your chest, triceps and shoulders.

    Carpet Crunches: Lie on the floor with hands across your chest and your chin tucked; do 10 to 30 crunches, lifting your shoulders slightly off the ground and squeezing in your stomach muscles.

    Wall Push-Ups: Do 10 to 20 push-ups with your arms leaning against a wall. Or do them the traditional way.

Heart-pumping moves

  • Turn on the TV. Exercise DVDs, online videos and on-demand cable workouts are great options when you're housebound. Choose from beginner to advanced and pick a different one every day (yoga, aerobics, beginner kickboxing — just about anything you can think of) to challenge and motivate yourself.
  • Take flight. Instead of going to step class, use the steps in your house. Vary the moves: First, step up and down on the bottom step for two to three minutes; rest a minute or two and repeat. Then try holding on to the handrail and walking up and down the first three stairs (great for butts and thighs). When you get the hang of that, try walking briskly up and down the stairs a few times (use the banister for support if you need to).