Battle the Bulge: 10 Cheap Indoor Workouts for Winter
For many people, the long winter months bring skiing, sledding, and other fun activities that go along with the fluffy white stuff. For others, winter slams the door on running and other outdoor workouts that help keep the weight off. Going to the gym can be an expensive substitute, so here are 10 suggestions for affordable indoor workouts.
One of the most challenging, effective, and no-cost workouts may be the simplest: Do 100 burpees as fast as you can. Burpees burn fat off the body like a blowtorch, build functional strength, and require no equipment whatsoever. Not sure what a burpee is? A YouTube video explains it all.
Believe it or not, a deck of cards is a useful prop for an intense body workout. Here are the rules: Each suit corresponds to a different exercise (e.g., pushups, sit-ups, burpees, squats), and the number on the card is the number of reps to perform. Assign face cards whatever value suits your fitness level. Draw a card, do the exercise, and work through the deck as quickly as possible.
Circuit training is an excellent way to burn calories, particularly when time is short. Pick a few favorite exercises (or least favorite, depending how you look at it), and spend 30 seconds doing each, quickly transitioning from one exercise to the next. Once you've completed the "circuit," it's time to start from the beginning.
The 100 Pushups Challenge (with its very own eponymous website) is a training program with the advantages of a clear goal and straightforward monitoring of progress toward the magic number. Bragging rights naturally flow: Being able to do 100 pushups in a row is quite impressive.
Burn off a few calories by doing housework. An hour of mopping is worth 170 calories for a 150-pound person, according to Calorie Lab, and vigorously tackling several cleaning tasks for the same period eats up 204 calories. Carrying groceries upstairs works off calories at a rate of 442 per hour; alternatively, fill a backpack with some old textbooks and walk up and down the stairs.
Another option for indoor exercise inspiration is YouTube. Searching for the term "workout" and specific types of exercise programs, such as core workouts or indoor cardio workouts, turns up thousands of results -- some general, some very specific. Shorter clips teach an exercise or routine while entire channels, such as BeFit, are dedicated to fitness.
App stores are stocked with scores of cheap or free fitness apps for smartphones and tablets. Complete workouts are available at no cost with iOS and Android apps such as Skimble, Johnson Johnson's Official 7 Minute Workout, and Sworkit.
They're something of a throwback, but don't rule out workout DVDs, which often come in sets. Look for discs that work many muscle groups and target different areas, such as core, upper body, and lower body. To augment the variety and save money, borrow exercise DVDs from the library instead of buying.
A final option for a cheap indoor workout is to invest in home gym equipment. A treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike may not be worth the price for people who prefer to exercise outdoors, but smaller and less costly fitness equipment to use at home in the winter includes a jump rope, balance ball, kettlebells, and dumbbells.