Did you resolve to workout more in the new year, but your body is still recovering from a post-holiday autoimmune flare so a full workout session just doesn’t work for you right now? Hey, it happens! There’s no shame in that. As Autoimmune Sisters, we need to listen to our bodies — some days we can push hard, and some days we need to pull back.
But what about those times in between, when we’re ready to get off the couch, but not interested in the gym, local Y, or Crossfit box?
Last week, we talked about ways to increase your non-exercise activity (N.E.A.T.) when a flare happens and you need to step back from longer, harder workouts. The basic idea is to keep your body moving in less intense ways in order to reap the benefits of movement. Think, walking the dog or cleaning out the garage, not running a half-marathon or taking an intense spin class. Exercise intolerance can be a real issue for autoimmune warriors. Too much exercise, or doing the wrong kinds of exercise, can overload our already compromised immune systems. The trick is to find the sweet spot. YOUR sweet spot. Because we are all different, with different conditions, symptoms, flares, and tolerance levels, the answer to what is the best workout is very personal and can be a bit like a science experiment. Commonly, the answer will even vary day by day or week by week, depending on your body’s response system.
So what’s a girl to do when she’s feeling good and ready to take it up a notch, but a crowded gym just isn’t her jam? Think outside the box and inside the kitchen … or basement, living room, backyard, neighborhood park, or local high school stadium. Get creative and get moving! Here are just a few fun ways to workout that don’t require a gym membership:
Three weather-resistant at-home routines (minimal equipment needed)
The genius to working out at home is that it’s basically excuse-proof. You pick the time, place, routine, and intensity. Anything goes! Use your body weight plus items found around the house (e.g., stairs, chairs, gallon water bottles, even small children), or, if you have it, more traditional equipment, such as dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands to create a dynamic workout routine that fits your lifestyle. Here are three at-home ways to break a sweat:
- Go online. Do-it-yourself fitness is easier than ever, thanks to a host of free apps, videos, magazine articles, online challenges, and social media feeds. From yoga and barre to strength training and boot camps, the options are endless and many are free. Level up: Subscribe to a fitness channel or hire an online trainer for a more personalized approach.
- Channel your inner Rocky. No gloves or bags needed. Cardio-style kickboxing is done by kicking and punching in the air. Get out any aggression and shadow box your way to victory. Celebratory stair run afterwards optional. Level up: Create 5-minute blocks of work followed by a 1-minute plank hold.
- Get the kids involved. Even babies are welcome! Safely use infants in lieu of weights for goblet squats, sit ups, and overhead presses. With older kids, jump rope, challenge them to a race, or dance it out! Level up: Create obstacle courses or AMRAP circuits and try to beat your kids’ time/reps.
Three vitamin D and adrenaline-added outdoor workouts (no equipment needed)
The world is your oyster — and your gym! You can jog around your neighborhood, hike or bike a local trail, or take advantage of many man-made environments near you. Need some inspiration? Try one of these fun workouts, sure to raise your heart rate:
- Run, Forrest, Run! Start out with a fast walking pace to warm up, then alternate between running and walking to create an interval workout. Use either distance or time as your markers (e.g., walk for ¼ mile then run for a ¼ mile, or walk for 60 seconds then run/sprint for 60 seconds). Level up: Find a hill or stairs to run up, hitting the glutes more.
- Go back to high school. There’s so much you can do here: Use the track to run 100m sprints. Level up: Add dynamic moves, like jump squats, burpees, and push-ups in between sprints; Use the football field for shuttle runs (from the end zone, run to the 5 yard line and back, then to the 10 yard line and back, then the 15 yard line and back, etc.). Level up: Add in those same dynamic moves at the end of each shuttle run; Or hit the bleachers for stair runs. Run up, walk/jog down, drop into decline push-ups at the bottom before repeating cycle. Level up: Take stairs two at a time on the way up, then run down before adding in jump squats at the bottom.
- Play like a kid again. Everything you need for a full-body workout is in your neighborhood park or playground. Use low hanging swings for V-ups and elevated push-ups; Use monkey bars for pull-ups and hanging ab work; Use benches for step-ups, box jumps, and split squats. Move from one exercise to the next to create a circuit. Level up: Add in cardio moves, like high knee runs, sprints, jump squats, skaters, burpees, and tuck jumps in between each round in your circuit.
Remember, exercise can be done anywhere. The true goal of physical fitness is to find what you enjoy and to do it regularly – whether that’s inside, outside, or a combination of the two. You don’t need to join a gym or invest a ton of money to get your fitness on. You only need the will, desire, and some good old-fashioned sweat equity. Just be sure to listen to your body and rest as needed.