You don’t need to have a membership to a health club to get fit. This can be done in your own house or apartment complex. Whether it’s a pool, treadmill, elliptical, stair master, rower and strength-training equipment—or all of the above—getting fit within the comforts of your own home has never been easier.
For those with access to a pool, swimming is a great cardiovascular, low-impact activity. Studies show that spending time in water has a powerful and positive effect on the brain. Dr. Howard Carter of the University of Western Australia, School of Sport Science, revealed this finding in a 2014 study in the American Journal of Physiology.
“We found that brain blood flow is higher when subjects were immersed in water up to the level of the heart compared to on land—laying the groundwork for further investigation of its effects on cardiovascular health,” Carter says.
Swimming is particularly great as you age, as it doesn’t put nearly as much stress on your bones and joints as other forms of exercise. Don’t have access to a pool? No problem. If you can dedicate one room to exercise, you can’t go wrong with the aforementioned treadmill, elliptical, stair master, rower and strength-training equipment.
For the treadmill, stairmaster or rower, you can reap huge fitness benefits by doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. HIIT involves multiple rounds of strenuous, near-max efforts that should leave you gassed afterward. Most health experts say a 20-minute HIIT workout gives you superior health benefits compared to a moderate exercise session twice in duration.
HIIT workouts can be done on any exercise machine; however, if done properly, your body needs at least a day of recovery—if not two—before performing another HIIT workout session. If you’re a beginner, here’s how to do a HIIT workout on an elliptical machine, according to the American Council on Exercise.
After 5 minutes of easy movement, the hard part begins. Spend the next 3 minutes increasing the machine’s resistance, speed or a combination to find your true maximum effort. Go as hard as you can for 30 seconds followed by 2 minutes of recovery time. During the latter, lower the resistance level and speed so you can go at a pace that allows you to catch your breath and get your heart rate down.
That’s one round. Do six more. After the seventh round, perform a 3-minute cool down session. Remember, in order to gain all of the immense benefits from HIIT workouts, you must go at near-maximal effort during the “work” rounds, or 30-second bouts.