5 Cardio Exercises You Can Do at Home
While COVID-19 significantly impacted our access to gyms and organized fitness activities, your heart health doesn’t have to suffer. You can be just as active at home, even without equipment. Try these 5 exercises as recommended by Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation’s Exercise Physiologist, Ingride Mbianga, to reduce your risk and improve your heart health.
Many individuals recovering from heart surgery or a cardiac event participate in cardiac rehabilitation, a program designed to help them safely return to an active lifestyle and build healthy habits. But what happens between visits with your therapist? It’s important to find fun and creative ways to keep moving. That can be even more difficult when gyms are closed, or you’re avoiding crowded fitness classes because of the risk of COVID-19.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay active right in your own home. You don’t even need any special equipment. Ingride Mbianga, Exercise Physiologist at Adventist HealthCare, shares five of her favorite at-home heart (and body) strengthening exercises.
Read through the instructions below and watch the video to see a demonstration of each exercise.
1. Standing Squat
A squat is a great exercise that works many muscles in your lower body, from your glutes to your calves – and just about everything in between. To do a squat, all you need is a flat surface and, if you prefer, a chair for extra stability. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the standing squat:
- Stand with feet just outside hips and bend knees into a squat position.
- Slowly come back up to standing.
- Raise your left leg out to the side as far as you can. Lower your leg slowly back to the ground.
- Repeat squat and, when standing again, raise the right leg. Lower your leg back down.
Repeat the exercise 10 times on each side for a total of 20 reps. Rest and repeat two more times.
2. Calf Raise with a Shoulder Shrug
A calf raise is a simple exercise that works your calf muscles, abdominal muscles and even helps improve your balance. Again, all you need is a flat surface:
- Stand with feet under your hips.
- Raise onto your toes and slowly back down.
- At the same time, raise your shoulders to your ears.
Repeat both motions 10 times. Rest and repeat 2 more times.
3. Seated Sit-ups
A modified sit-up is an excellent way to work your abdominal muscles – an important muscle group that impacts your balance and strength. For this exercise, you need a sturdy, free-standing chair.
- Sit on the front edge of the chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees at 90-degree angle.
- Cross arms over your chest. Make sure you are sitting upright, and your back is straight.
- Lean back slowly until your upper back touches the back chair. Then, slowly sit up as you contract your stomach muscles and return to your starting point. Make sure your feet stay flat on the ground.
One set is repeating the up and back motion 10 times. If the exercise is too difficult, slide to the middle of your chair to shorten the motion. Rest after one set. Repeat two more times.
4. Standing Bicep Abdominal Crunch
This exercise targets the biceps, back, abdominal muscles and hips. All you need is a flat surface.
- Stand with your feet just outside the width of your hips.
- Put your hands behind your head with elbows pointed out to the side.
- Raise your left knee while twisting your torso to the left side.
- Slightly crunch your abdominal muscles while lifting your knee.
- Your right elbow should be moving to the raised left knee, all in the same motion.
- Unwind back to center and repeat to the opposite side.
Repeat this movement 10 times for one set. Rest and repeat 2 more times. This exercise can also be done in a seated position.
5. Praying Hands
This simple exercise helps stretch and strengthen your arms and wrist. You can do this exercise standing up or sitting in a chair.
- Place your hands together in front of your chest in a praying position and press your hands together firmly.
- Put pressure palm to palm and extend your arms out slowly and bring back to chest, slowly.
Continue this motion at a slow pace 20 times.
If you have a heart condition or are recovering from a heart procedure, talk to your doctor about how our cardiac rehabilitation program could improve your quality of life.