Although it’s no mystery that physical activity is beneficial for our health and weight loss goals, finding exercises we enjoy and that can fit into our busy lives can sometimes feel overwhelming. Between work, family and trying to balance a social life, it can be challenging to squeeze in the time to make it to the gym or wake up early for a morning workout.
The good news is that getting some movement in each day can have a significant impact on our physical health, reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more.1 What’s more, low-impact exercises may help keep your bones strong which may prevent your chances of developing osteoporosis and are a safe alternative to higher intensity workouts.2
We’ve compiled four bodyweight exercises that are gentle on the body, but challenging enough to make a beneficial impact on your health—and the best part—they can be performed just about anywhere.
Though you may think that walking is not as effective as a more strenuous modality like a spin class or running, you might be surprised. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walking of 30-minutes a day can help with healthy weight management and may prevent or manage a wide range of conditions that include high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.3 Walking may also help strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and coordination, and even boost your mood.3
If you can’t make time for a 30-minute walk, or if the length of time seems overwhelming, start with smaller increments. Even five minutes of walking each day is beneficial.4 Once that becomes a habit, increase your time by few minutes each week, until you get to 30. Consider tracking your steps so you can hold yourself accountable.
2. Take the Stairs
Believe it or not, opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator is an incredibly effective way to burn calories and build strength at the same time. In fact, one study showed that men who averaged climbing eight flights a day had an incredible 33 percent lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary.5 Another study showed climbing stairs was even more demanding than lifting weights6 —so put down the dumbbells and lace up those shoes!
However, since this low-impact exercise can be taxing, especially if you’ve been sedentary—start slow, perhaps with just a single flight of stairs, and hold on to the railing to aid your balance. Remember—every step counts!
Practicing yoga has benefits beyond the physical of improving your flexibility and strengthening your bones7— it can also relieve stress and enhance one’s sense of well-being.8 And the best part is that all you need is a yoga mat, a reasonably firm floor, and your body. If you’re a beginner, there’s a wide variety of free or low-cost classes available online that can provide valuable guidance. Whether you’re new or an experienced yogi, making this practice a part of your wellness routine is an excellent choice.
4. Bodyweight exercise
Building strength and toning your muscles doesn’t have to require heavy equipment or a lot of time. Bodyweight exercises can be done just about anywhere and if done with enough exertion can provide the benefits of a much longer workout in just minutes.9-10
There’s a wide variety of simple bodyweight exercises to choose from, including squats, lunges, push-ups on your knees, jumping jacks, and more. Perfect for home, when traveling, or even at work, finding a way to fit in bodyweight exercises could not only help improve your bone strength but also give you a great, low-impact workout.