Living a healthy lifestyle can sometimes feel like a luxury. Workout classes like CrossFit aren’t cheap, and eating healthy foods can often be more expensive than unhealthy options. So what can you do if you want to live well on a budget? One way to start: classic, result-oriented exercises you can do at home with little or no equipment. These exercises can be a great way to start on your health journey or keep yourself motivated, and you don’t have to worry about the cost. Here are a few to get you started:
There are so many varieties of squats that it makes sense to think of them as one broad group of exercises. They let you focus on your lower body as you build strength and tone muscle, and the best part is you don’t need any special gear, just room to move around. (e.g., You can do overhead squats by holding a broomstick up as you squat down.) You can also choose to work one leg or both.
Keep the broomstick from the squats and use it to perform some effective overhead lunges. Proper lunges can really work your hip flexors, which can tighten up after too many hours of sitting or inactivity (in other words, a day of standard office work). Start with your feet together and step forward with one leg, making sure to step forward far enough so that your extended leg’s knee stays behind the toe.
Glute leg lift
This one might look simple, but the burn is all too real. It’s a great way to focus on your gluteus medius, a muscle on the side the pelvis. You start by lying on your side, legs stretched out, with your head resting on your arm. Roll a little until your body is at an angle to the ground, hold there, raise your top leg a couple feet, and point your toes toward the floor. Then lower your leg to touch the floor behind the heel of the other leg. Raise your leg back up to complete the rep.
Crunches are great for your core, but doing them incorrectly could lead to back problems. To do them properly: lie with your back flat on the ground, elevate your feet to the point where your knees are at a 90-degree angle to your body, cross your hands over your chest, and sit up until your elbows reach your knees. It’s crucial to use your abdominal muscles, not your back or neck, to raise you up. As you sit up, exhale, then inhale as you lie back down. If you’re overweight, you might want to do hip rolls before graduating to crunches.
A great exercise that uses your own body, not any equipment, for resistance is the push-up. You can do them literally anywhere you have room to maneuver, which also makes them great for quick workouts. Keep your head straight, your shoulders and back stable, and stabilize your hips and torso.
The inchworm is a simple but effective way to build flexibility. It loosens up the hamstrings and also has core benefits as you transition downward into the push-up position. From a standing position, bend forward to touch the ground, then walk your hands forward until your body is pulled down to the push-up position. Then, keeping your hands planted, walk your feet forward until you’re back to the bent-over position. Repeat as needed.
It doesn’t get much simpler or more cost-effective than an exercise that begins and ends with you lying on the ground. For this one, you start out lying on your stomach with your toes pointing behind you and your arms reaching forward. Exhale, then lift your arms and legs a few inches off the floor and hold. Then, gently lower your arms and legs back to the ground, making sure to stabilize your back and hips. Repeat.
Contralateral Limb Raises
The starting position for this one is the same as the one for the Superman stretch. Instead of raising both arms and both legs, though, these limb raises are designed to let you focus on one or two limbs at a time. You can raise one arm and then the other, or one leg and then the other. Another variation is to simultaneously raise one arm and the opposite leg, e.g., left arm and right leg, then hold them up briefly. Repeat as desired.
This is a demanding but great one for abs and back. Basically, it looks like a push-up, only instead of having your hands on the ground at your sides, you’ve got your lower arm, from hand to elbow. Start out by lying on your stomach with your arms close to your sides, then slowly lift your torso and legs off the ground. The goal is to keep your back straight. Hold for a few seconds, then go back down.
Standing Calf Raises
Standing calf raises are wonderful for legs and shins. Stand facing a wall, place your hands on the wall for support, and slowly lift yourself up onto your toes. Hold for a few seconds, then return. You can also raise on one leg at a time or turn your feet slightly to vary the exercise.
Walking and Running
Weather permitting, you can always go for a walk or a run, depending on your current skill level and available time. Remember, it’s not about winning out of the gate, but about building a healthy lifestyle. The key is to stay mobile and focus on wellness, and one of the best ways to do that is still to lace up your sneakers and hit the ground running.