People around the world have discovered the joy of exercising at home in recent months. Performing physical activity at home eliminates the need to commute to and from a fitness facility, allows you to exercise on your own schedule and empowers family members to join in the fun. And, there are no membership fees!
Of course, there are potential downsides to exercising at home that must be considered. While fitness facilities are designed to provide appropriate spacing, equipment and even airflow, bringing your workouts to your living room means that you have to be mindful of the safety of your surroundings. And if you’re accustomed to exercising with a personal trainer or as part of a group fitness class, you now must ensure that the exercises you perform are appropriate for your fitness and experience level.
But don’t be deterred. With a little planning and forethought, you can be well on your way to starting a safe and effective home exercise program.
What to Consider When Exercising at Home
1. If you’re streaming online videos or classes, be sure to check the credentials of the teacher.
While many “fitness influencers” may look fit and be engaging and dynamic leaders, they sometimes don’t have the educational background to lead safe and appropriate workouts.
Be sure to check their credentials; they should hold a certification from a respected organization and be listed on the U.S. Registry of Exercise Professionals. If you’ve been working with an exercise professional, ask whether they’re offering virtual sessions or classes that you can attend.
2. Make sure the workout is appropriate for your fitness level.
The exercise professional should demonstrate modifications to make each exercise easier or more challenging. Proper form is essential to minimize the risk of injury and maximize the likelihood of positive training outcomes and ongoing participation.
3. Start slowly and remember that consistency is key.
Exercising too hard or too often can cause overuse injuries, and there’s no quicker way to derail a workout routine. It may seem counterintuitive, but rest and recovery are essential elements of any program.
When it comes to strength training – which should be part of everyone’s routine – proper form and planned progressions are essential aspects of safety. Finally, listen to your body, especially during times of stress.
4. Evaluate your exercise space.
Make sure your exercise area is clear of any obstructions or tripping hazards and has sufficient room for the activity you are about to perform. For example, a yoga session will require considerably less space than a step-training class or dance-based workout. It’s best if you can have a designated workout area, but it’s not required. Just be sure to check your surroundings before each session.
5. Be mindful of proper clothing and footwear.
Exercise footwear should provide good cushioning, support and flexibility. Do a bit of research to ensure that your shoes are appropriate for your chosen activity (e.g., running shoes are designed for forward movement efficiency, not the side-to-side movements of many group exercise classes), and replace shoes when they get worn down. You’ll also want to choose clothing that allows for freedom of movement.
6. Stay hydrated.
Drinking water before, during and after a workout can help you avoid cramps, fatigue and even cognitive issues. Sports drinks are only necessary if you exercise at a relatively high intensity level for a long duration (greater than 60 minutes).
7. Have fun and get moving.
No matter your chosen workout, it’s important to enjoy yourself, as this is a key predictor of sustained behavior change. And that should be the ultimate goal – to incorporate movement into your daily routine in a way that allows for long-term lifestyle change.