This is the time of year when many of us make resolutions, oftentimes about our homes (declutter!), our health (lose a few pounds!) and our habits (eat less sugar!). Here, we’ve combined the three by providing a no-excuses, short and sweet fitness routine that can be done in the comfort and privacy of your own home. These do-anywhere exercises can be completed in less than 30 minutes using the best equipment available: your own body in your own home. You work so hard to maintain your home as a haven of hospitality; how fitting, then, to establish a fitness routine within its walls. Plus, a daily wellness routine encourages health and helps you power through that ever-expanding to-do list—which is helpful all year long, resolutions or not.
These exercises are safe for daily use, although common sense says to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain, especially in the joints. No need to fuel up with a pre- or post-workout snack for this quick and gentle routine; just put on comfy clothes, play some music and get moving. Adopt good habits now, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy and healthy new year.
WALL SITS: Press your back against a wall or closed door with feet placed shoulder-width apart about two feet off the wall. Suck in those abs and slide down the wall until thighs are parallel to the floor. Adjust your stance if necessary so there’s a straight line from knees to ankles. Hold for 30 seconds, eventually building up to 60 seconds. Take a brief rest and repeat this exercise three more times. You will feel a lot of action in the glutes and quads, but if you feel pain in your knee, stop the exercise. Time elapsed: 4 minutes.
INCLINE PUSH-UPS (using a wall, kitchen counter, coffee table or stair): Push-ups done on an elevated surface reduce stress on the body. Perform incline push-ups at an 80 degree angle at first (wall) and gradually decrease the angle as you become stronger—going to 60 degrees (kitchen counter), 45 degrees (coffee table) and eventually 30 degrees (bottom step of the stairway). It’s a push-up, not a tush-up, so make sure your body forms a long, straight line from your neck to ankles. Perform the incline push-up slowly. Don’t let “momentum” do the work for you. By descending in three breaths and holding yourself steady at the bottom before pushing back up again, you’ll get the most out of this version of a classic gym-class exercise. Repeat 12 times. Time elapsed: 2 Minutes.
HIP RAISE (BRIDGE): Lie on your back with knees up and feet on the floor. Brace your abs and press down through the heels to lift the hips off the floor, lengthening the spine and making a straight line from knees to shoulders. Don’t let those hips sag in the middle! Abs, glutes and hamstrings will be well engaged in this movement. Extend the exercise by flowing through a series of gentle lifts and lowers, each time paying careful attention to maintain that straight line from knees-hips-shoulders when in the extended position. Repeat 12 times to start and work up to 24. Let your breath set the tempo for this slow, controlled movement, exhaling on the way up, inhaling on the way down. Time elapsed: 3 Minutes.
These classic yoga-inspired postures have so much going for them! Not only do they provide a fantastic stretch, but they require a lot of core stability to perform them.
CAT/COW: Start on hands and knees, with hands directly below shoulders and knees directly below hips. As you exhale, gently nod your chin toward the chest and round the spine by tucking your tailbone as you look back toward the knees. Slowly inhale as you press the tailbone back out while lifting your head, feeling as though you could balance something (something healthy, like an apple!) on your back. Repeat this movement several times, allowing your inhalations and exhalations to set the pace of this gently flowing exercise. Time elapsed: 4 Minutes.
DOWN DOG/DOWN DOG-TO-PLANK: Start on all fours with fingers spread wide, making sure the wrists are under the shoulders and knees are under the hips. Tuck your toes and lift the hips up and back, straightening your legs to make an inverted “V” shape with your body. Relax your neck, allowing your head to hang between the elbows. Keep your tail high and press the heels toward the floor (they might not touch). Extend the benefits of this rejuvenating pose by coming forward into a plank position before pressing back into a downward-facing dog position once again. Repeat this movement several times, allowing your breath to determine the tempo of your movement. Allow yourself to pause and hold each pose for several natural breath sequences as well. Time elapsed: 4 Minutes.
Laurel Feinman is an Aerobic and Fitness Association of America-certified group fitness instructor.