A Harvard fitness expert says these are the best exercises to do in your living room

Summer 2020 has begun and it’s safe to say that it won’t be like any other summer that you have had before, but just because the gyms are closed this summer does not mean you should give up on your exercise routine. It’s tempting to sit on the couch, or by the pool, while you are at home, but it’s important for your physical and mental health to create an at-home workout routine.

According to a Harvard Health fitness expert, there are three different types of exercise that you should incorporate into your home workout routine: aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching. Michele Stanten, a Harvard fitness expert and certified fitness instructor, recently explained why those three categories are important and listed exercises in each that you can do right in your own living room.

Aerobic workouts

Aerobic exercise is what gets your heart and lungs pumping and consequently triggers long-term health benefits for your blood flow, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, metabolism, and mood. Aerobic exercise also helps the body produce the “happy chemicals” like serotonin.

You should aim to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, which is about 21 minutes per day, but according to the experts, any amount of daily aerobic activity will be helpful.

Living room aerobic workout: When you think about aerobic exercise, you probably think about running or walking, which oftentimes would require a lot of room or a treadmill. But there are many aerobic exercises that you can do right in your own living room –no matter how big or small it is.

“Just stepping in place is a simple and effective workout,” Stanten said. “Put on music and lift your knees high, or step and kick. If you have more space, step side-to-side or forward and back.”

If you want to increase your heart rate even more, Stanten advises raising your arms up and down as you march.

If you prefer a more structured workout, there are endless aerobic exercise videos that you can find online. From low-impact kickboxing to high-intensity dance classes, you can find what works for you by searching for cardio workouts online.

There are so many other ways that you can get an aerobic workout from the comfort of your own home. You can walk laps around your house, dance to some music, or even play games like “Simon says” to get some movement in.

Workouts for strength training

While aerobic exercise is key for healthy lungs and hearts, strength training exercises are important for keeping the muscles and bones strong, as well as reducing blood sugar levels. It’s recommenced that individuals do a 15-minute strength training workout two or three times per week, or complete a few moves every day.

Living room workouts for strength training: Strength training exercises usually don’t require too much room, so they are perfect for at-home workouts. Some great strength training workouts to incorporate into your routine are standing planks, bridges, and standing leg lifts. For each of these, Stanten recommends repeating each exercise eight to 10 times for a set, and completing two or three sets per exercise session. As you improve, you can add more sets and reps.

For standing planks, you can face a wall and stand 12 to 24 inches away from it. Keep your body straight and lean forward with your forearms against the wall, and then hold for 30 seconds.

For bridges you can lie on the floor with your knees bent. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, raise your hips until your back and upper legs form a straight line to your knees. Your upper back should stay on the floor.

For standing leg lifts, you can hold on to a counter and raise your leg to the side or back repeatedly.

Workouts for stretching

Incorporating stretching into your workout routine keeps your muscles flexible and improves your range of motion. You can stretch your muscles before a workout to get the blood flowing to those muscles, or you can stretch after a workout when your muscles are already primed.

Stretching in your living room requires little space and equipment. According to the experts at Harvard, there are two ways to approach stretching. The first is that you can follow a workout that incorporates stretching, like yoga, pilates, or tai chi. New research shows that exercises like yoga might be as good for your brain as cardio exercise is.

The second approach is to create a list of stretches that you can do in one routine once your muscles are properly warmed up.

Living room workouts for stretching: Stanten recommends starting with two stretches: quadriceps stretch and a seated hamstring stretch.

For the quadriceps stretch, you can stand up or lay on your side. Start by pulling your heel up to your buttocks, which should allow you to feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. You can hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch with the other leg.

For the seated hamstring stretch, you can sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Next, straighten your right leg and point your toes on your right foot the ceiling. Then, hinge forward from your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. You can hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch to the opposite leg.

Jennifer Fabiano is an SEO reporter at Ladders.