According to a recent study, your strength, balance, and endurance will have already started to deteriorate by the time you reach your 50’s. This, paired with low physical activity, can lead to physical injury, falls, or chronic diseases. For many the lack of physical activity stems from not having access to equipment that may help them stay fit. But did you know that you could strengthen your body and work toward achieving your physical fitness goals with the weight of your own body?
Calisthenics, or bodyweight exercises, are designed to build strength and improve physical fitness without the need of special equipment. Here are some calisthenics anyone can do from the comfort of their own home. As always, be sure to consult with your physician before starting any exercise routine.
Push-Ups: One of the classic calisthenics, push-ups, predominantly work the pectoral muscles along with the triceps and biceps. If you’re looking to build upper-body strength, push-ups are a great place to start. When starting out you can modify the workout to have your knees down if you are having trouble holding a straight-body push-up position.
Tricep Dips: Tricep dips are a pushing exercise that strengthens the triceps, chest, and shoulders, and can be easily done with the aid of a sturdy chair or couch. To perform a tricep dip, sit with your feet flat and knees bent at 90 degrees; hands at your sides, palms pressed into the seat with fingertips facing forward. Once in position, take one large step forward with your right foot and then join the left foot beside it. Bend your arms to 90 degrees as you lower and lift, making sure to keep your abs tight.
Squats: Though they’re often done with weights, squats are a simple move that can be done without them and remain effective. Working the thighs, hips, buttocks, and quadriceps, squats are a great starting point for building strength in the lower body.
To perform a squat, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, shoulders back and down, and then squat as if sitting in a chair, making sure to keep your abs tight and pulled in. Then, stand back up and repeat. Add in a shoulder lift by lifting your arms out in front of you as you squat and then dropping them back down to your sides as you straighten. This will give the added benefit of a shoulder workout.
Lunges: Great for building both muscle and balance, lunges work numerous muscle groups in the lower body. To perform a lunge start by standing with your feet together, shoulders back and down. Take a step forward with your right foot bending both your right and left leg until they are both at 90 degrees, making sure to keep your upper body straight. Then, push back to your starting position with your legs together and alternate the right and left legs.
Crunches: Crunches are designed to strengthen your mid-section and are a great starter exercise for strengthening your core. Unlike sit-ups, crunches require you to lift only your shoulders off the ground and can be done with feet flat and knees up, or legs bent in the air at 90 degrees, depending on your preference.
Planks: A bit more strenuous than crunches, planks require you to hold a push-up position for a set amount of time keeping your body straight while contracting your core. Like push-ups they can also be done with knees down.
These exercises can be done alone, or you can combine a handful of exercises into a circuit to work various parts of the body at the same time. Mix and match your favorite moves and start a fitness routine that’s right for you without the hassle of extra exercise equipment.