The heart – we know it is an important organ of the body! However, not only is it just an organ, but it is muscular, meaning it needs to be exercised! Aerobic exercise is the best mode of exercise to make the heart strong. Making sure the heart muscle is strong means the heart will be more efficient at pumping oxygenated blood around your body, in turn allowing the rest of your body’s muscles and organs to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy.
In lockdown, our access to gyms has been cut and many of us are turning to walking as a form of cardio/aerobic exercise. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise as it is safe, comfortable no matter the health conditions you are experiencing and very cost effective! However, if you are anything like me, the streets around my house are getting quite repetitive!
Changing up the exercises in your aerobic routine ensures your body does not plateau – similar to progressing weights in your weight training as you get stronger! We understand that the populations we work with can’t always easily do rope skipping, jumping jacks and burpees. How can we change up our aerobic routine with some safe exercises for home?
Have a look at our low impact suggestions below:
High knee marching
This exercise is easy to do at home and can be done by anyone! If your balance is not as great as it could be, make sure you are near a chair or wall for support
- Start by standing straight and tall
- Lift one knee up to 90 degrees and then step it back to the floor
- Repeat with the other leg
Challenge: Try high knee jogging!
Low impact jumping jacks ‘side steps’
Jumping jacks are an excellent aerobic exercise, but they can be quite demanding on the knees and lower back – if you are experiencing discomfort in those areas, we recommend this low impact option!
- Tap on leg sideways away from your body
- At the same time as doing this, sweep both your arms in a circular motion to above your head
- Bring your arms down at the same time as your leg comes in and repeat with the other leg
Easier: Start with just the leg taps to the side, leaving your arms on your hips. You can add the arms in later!
Skater step backs
This exercise is a great ‘step back’ from lunges, which can be quite demanding on the knees and hips if those areas are not strong.
- Start with your arms on your hips or by your side
- Step your right leg diagonally back behind you – if balance is a concern, make it a smaller step, you can always progress as time goes on
- Step the right leg back to the middle and repeat with the left leg, this time stepping diagonally back in the other direction
Challenge: As you step back, get your arms involved! You can try a double arm punch forward as you step back, a double arm bicep curl or shoulder press above your head.
Squat to shoulder press
This is one of our go-to aerobic exercises when we can’t use cardio equipment. You can modify as needed for sore knees.
- Bring your feet hip width distance apart, keeping your arms up by your shoulders
- Perform the squat movement, as deep as you feel comfortable
- As you stand up, punch your arms into the air above yourhead
Step (up) to high knee raise
You can do this exercise even if you don’t have access to steps in your home or local park! Just step forward instead of up onto the step if this is the case.
- Step forward or up onto the step, making sure your whole foot is on the step (this means your heel!)
- Push up through the foot that is on the step and step up
- As you do so, raise your other leg into the air, so it does not come in contact with the step
Tip: Make sure you are near something to hold onto if balance is a concern for you, such as a railing or wall
Mountain climbers to chair or table
This is one of my personal favourite exercises! It is great for both your core stability and fitness.
- Place your hands on a sturdy surface, such as a chair or table. You can even do this to the wall if you feel more comfortable doing so
- Make sure your shoulders, elbows and wrists are stacked on top of each other, and don’t hunch your shoulders up to your ears!
- Engage your core muscle (“belly button to spine”) and keep your back straight
- Lift one knee to your chest, keeping the rest of your body still and straight
- Return your foot to the ground and repeat with the other knee
Challenge: you can make this harder by doing it on lower surfaces, such as the floor if you are able to do so! You can also perform this movement faster and it will be more of a workout!
I don’t like to put dancing into the same group as exercises that need instructions, as I believe dance is for fun and shouldn’t need instruction!
New research has found that self-selected motivational music is beneficial to improving aerobic endurance when individuals are mentally fatigued, which is incredibly relevant to the lockdown and how most of us are feeling at the moment. So, plug in your favourite music and get jiving!