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Exercise has well-documented benefits for decreasing the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, but more than half of Australians are not getting enough physical activity.

For many people, the hardest part of exercising is building the motivation to actually start doing it. For others, the expense of a gym or buying special equipment or activewear just isn’t in the budget.

Exercise at home

Roadblocks such as bad weather or gym costs can be all that is needed to derail good intentions. However, there are exercises you can do at home, using items you may already have. Doing any physical activity is better than doing none – it burns extra energy, helps reduce stress, and can even help you sleep better and feel better. Here are some everyday items and how you can adapt them for your at-home exercises.

  • Books: Load up a reusable grocery bag or backpack with books to substitute as weights, or stack a couple on top of each other to use as yoga blocks or as a platform for doing step-ups.
  • Cans or bottles: Cans of tinned food or frozen bottles of water could also substitute as weights. If they’re large enough, you could even use them in place of foam rollers to help with exercise recovery and improving your range of motion.
  • Belts: Try using one of your belts or any flexible cord you have lying around as an exercise strap or a skipping rope.
  • Couches and chairs: Depending on your height, a couch or sturdy chair could be at a good height for doing squats. You could also try using them to do dips, but make sure you first test that they will support you without tipping over or sliding out from under you.
  • Broomsticks: A broomstick, mop handle or something similar can help you with your form when doing bodyweight or strength-training exercises.

Where to get started

For extra guidance in how to use these everyday items for exercise or how to put together an exercise routine, there is plenty of information available online apart from websites.

  • Apps: A huge variety of exercise apps can be downloaded for free. Start by searching for the type of exercise you want to do, such as aerobic exercise, resistance training or flexibility workouts. You can be even more specific in your search and look for apps for yoga, Pilates or HIIT (high intensity interval training), just to name a few. With so many guides available, it can be difficult to narrow down the one which will be most helpful to you. Think about what you need most when exercising. Do you need instruction on how to do specific exercises? Or do you need the motivational boost of working against a clock or a voice guide?
  • Online videos: If you enjoy following along while watching someone else lead an exercise routine, there are free video sites containing plenty of videos by people who have taken at-home exercising to heart and demonstrate using everyday items in their exercise routines.

Remember, if you’re starting a new exercise routine, it’s always best to run it past your doctor first, particularly if you haven’t exercised in a long time or have other health concerns.

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