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Winter isn’t always the most appealing time of year to get motivated to go to the gym. So, while the social benefits of taking your exercise in an external location shouldn’t be belittled, I thought it would be a good time to put together a list of equipment-free exercises that can be done indoors.

The key to all senior exercise is finding your comfort zone – that is, creating enough strain to increase your breathing and heart rate, without putting undue pressure on muscles and limbs. Fortunately for all of us (at whatever our current fitness level) the body is a great self-regulator. The amount and type of exercise you can do comfortably against your own body weight is perfect for home conditioning.

To begin with, we’ll look at some non-standard exercise regimes. The three top home exercise forms here are (in no particular order) – housework; gardening; and sex. Obviously your situation and lifestyle will dictate which of these, if any, you feel most comfortable with – though it’s a generally accepted rule that after you’ve toned up with the first two, the third tends to come naturally!

Standing up is, on its own, an effective way to start shedding excess weight or strengthening core muscles. The act of standing immediately increases adrenalin production and causes the metabolism to work quicker. By simply spending half an hour on your feet every day, you’re already going in the right direction.

Cleaning and other housework might be dull – but when you think about that raised heart rate and increased respiration, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that it’s doing you a lot of good aerobically as well. So get into it – put your favourite music on and don’t be afraid to sing while you work: singing is also great exercise as it uses deep core muscles to project. The louder you sing, the fitter you’ll get!

It’s quite easy to put together a home aerobics routine to complement your other activities. Bear one simple rule in mind and you should see results in short order.

The rule for all exercise, particularly for seniors, is that you should work out within your comfort zone. Stay in the middle of that comfortable range for mild improvement – work at the upper limits of the comfort zone and, over time, you will raise the bar and find yourself completing workouts you never thought possible.

Yoga and Pilates may both be done safely at home, provided you have had some tuition in the proper form. Try Do Yoga With Me to understand the basics – after that you can work on your own.

Standard exercises, like push-ups and sit ups, need not represent a strain either. Try “easy push-ups” – start by standing close to a wall and simply pushing yourself away from the vertical surface; then graduate to pushing up from a kneeling position on the floor. You can also do easy crunches, by lying on your back and raising your knees to your chest. This action will exercise the core part of the abdomen without unnecessary strain.

More resources for easy at-home exercises:

Senior Living – four easy exercises.

Elder Gym – everyday fitness for seniors.