It might seem like a simple question with a simple answer – yes. However, working out at home is seldom so simple. Most health experts will explain the vast benefits of working out in a gym, as opposed to at home. And for the most part, they're absolutely right. However, there are some people that really do prefer to workout from home, and there's nothing wrong with doing so. You can get the same aerobic and strength training results without using high tech gym equipment, but there are some risks that you have to consider before setting up your home gym, or beginning your first workout.
It's fine to say that you should use the gym for your exercise sessions. Unfortunately, most people aren't exercising at all, let alone making the commute to the gym several times a week. According to a five-year American Time Use Survey published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, only about 5% of people in the United States participate in some form of vigorous exercise on any given day. One of the factors contributing to this statistic could be the "gym mantra," or the feeling that a good workout can only occur at the gym.
Why Work Out at Home?
In a nation with an ever-increasing collective waistline, more and more people in the United States are obese. According to the New York Times, the 2011 obesity rate in the U.S. is 34% , although this percentage has plateaued over the past five years. Many people feel uncomfortable with their bodies, and are not confident working out among others. For morbidly obese people, working out at the gym can inspire nightmares of critical stares and locker room snickering. Psychologically, even the slightest feeling of discomfort during a gym workout can destroy diet confidence, causing you to spiral into a binge relapse.
For people that are not yet confident working out with other people, working out at home is one of the few options they have. But, the higher your BMI, the higher risk you take when working out alone. Not only can equipment malfunction and cause an injury, you can accidentally overwork yourself during an exercise – and there might not be anyone close by to help you in an emergency. In addition, there is also the risk that you might not be performing an exercise correctly – which can also cause an injury, or reduce the effectiveness of your workout.
Of course, hiring an at-home personal trainer can reduce the risk of an injury while still allowing you to workout at home. In addition, exercise equipment is designed to make it very difficult for you to perform an exercise correctly, and is manufactured to keep you safe during your workout. It might be worthwhile to Google " elliptical reviews 2011 " for current and safe home exercise equipment.
How to Get the Most Out of your Home Workout
Listen to Some Upbeat Music: When you workout at home, you can choose your own music, without having to use headphones. And this is a great benefit, as a Brook and Jackson report described by StraightDope.com revealed that an hour of headphone use increases bacteria in your ear by 100 to 700 times normal levels. Choose music that you enjoy and that gets your blood pumping. Some of my favorite home workout music is " A State of Trance " by Armin Van Buuren. This radio show comes out once a week, and keeps my workout music fresh.
Emulate Outdoor Activities: A study performed by Peter Krustup at the University of Copenhagen found that, after 12 weeks, participants in a one-hour soccer practice every week burned more fat and added more muscle than a control group that jogged for the same amount of time. The study found that the people that participated in the soccer practice did not experience the "jogger's boredom" that set in after the first 20 minutes of exercise, and were motivated by exercising with others. While it might be difficult for you to play soccer at home, you can emulate this activity by designing a comprehensive and varied exercise session to reduce boredom:
Begin with a short warm up, like marching in place with a jump rope at your side. Gradually transition into hopping in place, before finally beginning some side swings to prepare for the remainder of the workout.
Start doing some footwork exercises like the Forward-Straddle, Skier, Bell, and Side-Straddle. These exercises will help you transition from your warm up to your core workout.
During your core workout, change the exercise you perform every 20 to 30 seconds to keep things fresh and keep your body guessing. You might begin with some crosses, then switch to sideways jumps, before returning to jogging in place. You can also add in other exercises like double unders and marching in place. Whatever you include in your core workout, keep changing exercises to add variety to your session.
Cool down with some light jumping or marching. A good cool down session should last about five minutes. Don't skip this part of the workout – going from intense physical activity to nothing can cause injuries and increase the amount of rest your body needs between workouts.
The key here is not in fancy equipment or complicated exercises, but in variety. By keeping your exercises varied, you can avoid all of the problems that plague those that simply hop on an exercise bike 20 minutes a day.
Use an Elliptical Machine Properly: If you decide to invest in an elliptical machine, focus more on SPM data than anything else (but don't forget to periodically check your heart rate for optimal results and safety). Your SPM (or Strides Per Minute) should stay between 140 and 160 for the most effective cardiovascular workout. On the other hand, if you're more interested in toning your thighs, pay very close attention to your feet. You should be pushing with your heels if you're working to tone your hamstrings or buttocks. By pushing with your toes, you'll work more on toning your quads.
When you use proper equipment and take the time to prepare a safe workout environment, working out at home can be a solid alternative to the gym, especially for those that don't have time for the commute, or are not yet confident enough to workout with others.