Ever since the home exercise videos of the 1980s, with Jane Fonda leading homemakers in her neon spandex, the popularity of exercising at home has gone steadily up. The U.K is now one of the most statistically health-conscious nations in Europe, with over 7.2 thousand fitness clubs and more than 10 million members[i], but when lockdown forced gyms to close, these gym bunnies had to find other ways to get their health fix. Thus, the sudden boom in home exercise.
There are so many exercises you can do at home that can even be more effective than a gym workout. To garner even more health benefits, taking your training into the garden has been proven to lower stress and burn more calories.[i] As lockdown eases, more people are choosing to continue their at-home workout schedules for all the benefits they’ve brought so far. And if you’re looking to get started or need some new workout inspiration, we’ve got you covered. We’ve gathered some of the most effective exercises that you can do anywhere, without equipment, to make you look and feel your absolute best – so what are you waiting for?!
The Rising Popularity of Exercising At Home
Although the U.K was in lockdown for over a year, it didn’t mean that people let staying indoors get the best of them. With people like Joe Wick and the re-emerged Mr Motivator gracing our TV screens throughout the pandemic, people were constantly encouraged to stay active and take good care of themselves during that uncertain period. A stunning 76% of British people took up at least one new form of exercise in lockdown[ii], with many saying that the increase of their fitness has helped them cope mentally with lockdown. Things like walking, home workouts, running, cycling, exercise videos and yoga all saw a boost of interest throughout 2020. This is because they are simple things that anyone can do when at home, and it doesn’t seem as though many people will be dropping their newfound hobby as lockdown eases.
The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
As little as five minutes of exercise can have a dramatic increase in your mood, but regular exercise has shown to help:
- Control your weight
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Improve your mental health
- Your thinking and learning processes
- Your sleep
Although exercise has so many benefits on your body and mind, exercising outdoors has been proven to take it one step further. Taking your workout into nature and the fresh air will:
- Curb symptoms of depression
- Provide you with Vitamin D (which keeps your muscles and bones healthy)
- Enhance self-esteem
- Reduce stress
- Burn more calories
- Not feel as strenuous because it lowers the blood pressure
No matter where you do your exercise, you will always be benefitting yourself; however, if you can, taking your workout outside will be the most beneficial and provide better results.
To brighten up your garden and encourage you to get out in it for your exercise, have a look at our garden accessories. From beautiful hanging decorations that will coax you outside to patterned sun lounger cushions for you to stretch out on when you’ve finished your workout, we have everything you could want to make your garden an all-year round fitness paradise.
Exercises You Can Do In Your Garden
These exercises are simple, perfect for any level of athleticism and don’t require any equipment, making them ideal for beginners and experienced fitness gurus alike. Although the number of reps you do is dependent on your fitness and what your body is willing to do, it’s recommended to do around three sets of 10-20 reps for each exercise – try them out and see what your body is capable of.
It might be one of the most basic exercises out there, but this move works your abs, shoulders, chest, back, triceps and biceps, so it will target all of those important muscles and build body strength.
- Begin in a plank position, holding yourself up by your arms and toes. Keep your core tight, neck neutral and shoulders pulled back from the ears
- Lower your body down to the floor by bending your elbows. When your chest begins to brush the floor, extend your elbows back up and return to the starting position. Try to keep your elbows tucked into your body through the whole movement.
If a proper push up is too strenuous at the beginning, do the same movement with your knees on the floor – this will still build strength and work the right muscles.
Sit-ups are another great core builder, working the abs from all angles and even aiding digestion.
- Facing the ceiling, lie on the floor with your knees slightly bent and hands resting behind your head
- Tighten your abs and core muscles as you lift your upper body until your right elbow touches your left knee
- Go back to the start position, then repeat the same motion with your left elbow and right knee
Improving your balance is integral for any workout regime, and lunges will help you better and maintain your balance. They also increase muscle mass and lower body strength, working the core, bum, thighs, and calves for better stability through your workouts.
- Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands at your waist
- Step forward with your right leg and, as you do so, bend your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Keep your right knee above your right foot.
- Push up from your right foot and go back to the starting position. Repeat for the other leg.
Burpees are one of the most effective whole-body exercises, working the legs, hips, bum, abs, arms, chest, and shoulders.
- Begin standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides
- Place your hands together in front of you as you start to squat down until your hands reach the ground. As soon as they do, stretch your legs back into a push up position
- Jump your feet up as close to your palms as possible.
- Stand up straight and send your arms over your head or behind your back as you jump
Another effective whole-body exercise, a plank primarily works your core, shoulders and arms, but benefits your entire body.
- Begin with your hands and toes on the ground in a push up starting position. Keep your neck straight and head tilted forward slightly
- Hold this position, keeping your back straight and core tight, for around 30 seconds. Maintain tension throughout your body and try to keep every muscle engaged in the action
A popular lower body strength builder, squats will work your thighs, glutes, core, back, calves and the often-neglected ankles. Since they target some of the bigger muscles in the body, they’ll also burn more calories overall.
- Begin by standing up straight, with feet just wider than shoulder-width apart and hands pressed together in front of your chest
- Keep your chin and chest up as you engage your core and push your hips back, bending at the knees as though you’re about to sit down.
- Keeping your knees strong and in place, lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold for a second or two, then straighten up to the starting position.
An underrated gem, jumping jacks will work your glutes, quads, abs, shoulders, and hip flexors, with the added bonus of your heart and lungs.
- Begin standing up straight with your arms by your side
- As you jump up, spread your feet beyond hip-width apart and lift your arms above your head until your hands almost touch
- Jump again, this time bringing your legs back together and your arms back down
A fantastic exercise for people who spend most of their day sitting, glute bridges will work your hamstrings, hips, lower back and glutes.
- Begin lying on the floor with your arms lying at your sides, knees bent and feet flat
- Raise your hips off the ground with a push through your heels until your core and knees form a straight line, squeezing your hamstrings, core and glutes. Maintain contact with the ground with your upper back and shoulders
- Pause for a couple of seconds at the top, then return to the starting position.
Similar to sit-ups but more intense, crunches will work the abs, core, shoulder and back to build upper body strength.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart, planted on the floor.
- Contract your abs as you inhale, then on the exhale, lift your upper body.
- Inhale in this position, and then lie back down
All these exercises are incredibly effective and will work both the body and mind to encourage a happier, healthier you. Most of them can be done anywhere, so exercising really has never been so easy! Don’t worry if a quiet, solo workout isn’t really for you, though. There are plenty of workout videos readily available on the internet – chances are you’ll probably come across most of these exercises there too!
Any home exercises that you’ve been favouring recently? Let us know in the comments!
Sources[i] https://www.statista.com/topics/3411/fitness-industry-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/ [ii] https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/lifestyle/garden-fitness-more-than-a-hobby-its-good-for-you.htm#:~:text=Believe%20it%20or%20not%2C%20this,burn%20up%20to%20200%20calories. [iii] https://www.nuffieldhealth.com/article/over-half-of-brits-have-taken-up-a-new-form-of-exercise-during-lockdown-with-many-vowing-to-continue-with-their-new-regimes
Ryan Jenkins is a professional gardener and has been working in the gardening industry for over 25 years. This has allowed Ryan to accumulate a vast wealth of gardening knowledge which he shares on the Sefton Meadows blog.