Easy exercises you can do at home
By Jennifer O'Neill
If you're like most moms, you carefully choreograph your days to get everything done. And that means plenty of multitasking. Exercise, however, probably isn't included in your dance. After all, you can't get to the gym or do an exercise video while, say, cooking dinner or reading email.
But what if you didn't need the gym or even a chunk of time to reap the rewards or exercise? "Doing squats while you brush your teeth or standing pushups in the kitchen only takes two minutes, and it makes a difference to your health," says Shirley Archer, author of Fitness 9 to 5: Easy Exercises for the Working Week.
Specifically, strength training has been shown to reduce depression symptoms, diabetes risk and back pain, plus strengthen your bones. It also boosts metabolism. Women who strength-train burn more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they would if they hadn't worked out, according to a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
In every room of your home is an opportunity to exercise, says Archer. So tap into your multitasking skills and try her easy routine. You can do the moves throughout your day -- just try to do each move one to three times a day, three times per week.
Exercise: Single-leg Squats
Instead of just standing while working the toothbrush around your molars, work your hips, thighs, stomach and back too:
- Start in a standing position, then lift your left leg off the floor. Bend your right knee and lower your body into squat. (Sit back on your right heel so your knee doesn't shoot past your toes.)
- While squatting, imagine a clock on the floor in front of you. Tap your left toe at the 12 o'clock position, then exhale as you rise up. (Keep your left leg lifted even after you come to a standing position.)
- Repeat, but this time tap your toe at the 11 o'clock position. Continue squatting and tapping each hour around the clock for a total of 12 squats.
- Switch legs, then repeat for another 12 squats.
Exercise: Counter Pushups
Next time you're in the kitchen, strengthen your arms, shoulders, chest, stomach and back:
- Stand facing the counter, a foot or two back from its edge, with your feet hip-distance apart. Lean forward and place your hands on the edge slightly farther apart than shoulder-width.
- Keeping your torso stable and neck long, bend your arms and inhale as you lower your chest toward the counter. Exhale as you push your body back up. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
Exercise: Traveling Lunges
Turn your room-to-room travels into a quick toning session for legs and hips:
- Start at the end of a hallway with your feet together and arms by your sides. Inhale as you take a big step forward with your right foot and bend your right knee to sink down into a lunge.
- Exhale as you push off with your back/left foot and bring it forward to meet your right one. Repeat, but this time step forward with the left foot. Alternate like that, doing as many as you can up to 25 lunges at a time.
Room: Dining Room
Exercise: Chair Triceps Dips
You probably spend a lot of non-eating time at the dining table -- on your laptop, scrapbooking, feeding your kids -- why not also firm up your arms and shoulders while there?
- Sit on the edge of a very stable chair and place your palms on the seat directly under your shoulders, fingers facing front. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor in front of you, hip-width apart.
- Walk your feet forward three steps and, using your arms to support your weight, slide your rear off the chair's edge.
- With your lower back almost touching the chair, inhale as you bend your elbows and lower your hips toward the floor. (Keep shoulders down and strong; don't sink your neck into them.) Exhale as you then lift yourself back up. Repeat, doing as many as you can up to 15.
Room: Living Room
Exercise: Sofa Squats
Commercial breaks don't have to be boring. Use the two minutes to tone your legs, hips, stomach and back:
- Stand with your back to the sofa, feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides. Inhale as you bend your knees and lower your hips down to the sofa, as if you're about to sit. (But don't sit.) Keep your weight back on your heels so your knees don't go over and past your toes.
- Hover there for a moment, then exhale as you return to standing. Do as many as you can working up to 25.
If you try this routine for a week, you'll see just how easily exercise can fit into your daily life. Not only will you begin to feel and look better, you'll have more energy -- and what multitasking mom doesn't want that?
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Jennifer O'Neill is a staff editor at Us Weekly and a freelance writer who covers fitness, diet and health. She has previously been on the editorial staffs of SELF and Allure.