As winter advances, temperatures decline, along with our desire to go outdoors. The warm welcome of the sun in summertime invites us outside to play, soak up vitamin D and exercise—all actions that improve our mood. During winter, the shorter days and cooler temperatures can really bog a person’s spirits down. Get rid of the winter blues with these indoor exercises to boost your mood and energy!
YogaWhen it comes to increasing flexibility and strength, relieving stress and improving general state of mind, yoga is one of the longest-standing and most effective practices. While yoga classes are informative and helpful, you can practice yoga anywhere, including your living room floor or even your bed. Here are two simple yoga poses to try at home.
- Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips.
- Walk hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into your yoga mat.
- Curl toes under and slowly press hips toward ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing shoulders away from ears. Feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.
- Hold for 3 full breaths.
- Lie face down on the floor with thumbs directly under shoulders, legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor.
- Tighten your pelvic floor, and tuck hips downward as you squeeze your glutes.
- Press shoulders down and away from ears.
- Push through your thumbs and index fingers as you raise your chest toward the wall in front of you.
- Relax and repeat.
If you want to improve strength without investing in various weights, a resistance band is a great alternative for targeting specific muscle groups and improving coordination. Inexpensive, light, and flexible, resistance bands are perfect for a quick workout at home when it’s too cold to make a trip to the gym. Here’s one way to use this toning tool.
- Stand with both feet together, holding the handle of a resistance. band in either hand. Step both feet onto the middle of the band, hips-width distance apart.
- Inhale, and as you exhale, simultaneously bend both elbows. Make sure you have the correct alignment.
- As you inhale, straighten both your arms, coming back to the starting position. This counts as one rep.
- Perform three sets of 15 reps.
Although many people like to utilize weights during squats, your own body weight is sufficient for toning muscles in your legs and glutes. Try these squats in the comfort of your home this winter, or switch things up with the pulsing variation.
- Just get into basic squat form, feet hip width apart, feet slightly pointed out.
- Squat down to where your knees reach a 90 degree angle.
- Try to maintain the weight through your heels as you push yourself back up to start.
- Remember to not lean forward and to maintain a flat back throughout the exercise
- Get into basic squat form.
- Once you reach the bottom of the squat, instead of coming back up all the way, only come half way up, and then lower back down into the squat.
- Repeat this multiple times to “pulse”. You will really feel the burn with this one!
Exercise balls (or stability balls) are more than just fun to bounce on. They also improve strength, cardio, and balance. These inflated balls are great for post-injury exercises because they can help reduce strain and pressure during workouts. Try this hip raise exercise to strengthen your whole body while practicing balance.
- Start by sitting on a stability ball and roll your body down by walking your feet forward until the ball meets your shoulder blades and your head is resting on the ball.
- Place your hands on your hips, and keep your feet and knees hip-width apart and heels grounded.
- Squeeze your glutes and push your hips up to the ceiling creating a straight line from shoulders to your knees.
- Drop your butt back down and repeat.
Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the “plank” pose. This move strengthens your core, glutes, and hamstrings, supports good posture, and improves balance. Because they primarily target your core, planks are also good for reducing back pain. These two simple plank variations can be performed anywhere in your home where there’s flat ground.
- Plant the hands directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart) like you’re about to do a push-up.
- Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body. Your legs should be working in the move too; careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
- Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
- Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising form or breath.
- Get in the proper regular plank form.
- Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance.
- If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together.
Did any of these exercises make it into your routine? Let us know in the comments!