Getting Fit at Home

by Peter J. Morel C.F.C, CPT, CAFS

Can you stay fit without spending a fortune, and without traveling to a gym? You bet!

My challenge to you is this: After I've explained how easy it is to get in shape and stay that way, using relatively inexpensive equipment and investing minimal time, I want you to put this information to use. Begin your new commitment to fitness now! Don't wait for tomorrow or next week - start today!

There are a wide variety of ways to increase your fitness level at home. You can do push-ups and sit-ups, then go for a brisk walk, or push your chair hard two, three, or four times a week. For a nominal fee - usually about a dollar a pound - you can buy a set of dumbbells. For not more than $50 to $150 dollars, you could even set yourself up with a small weight bench. This simple equipment is all you'll need to build strength and muscle, while increasing your heart and lung capacity.

If you're a real bargain hunter, consider investing $25 to $30 in a set of dyna bands, a type of rubber tubing with handles attached to each end used for exercising any and all muscle groups. Dyna bands come in different colors and thicker or thinner gauges of rubber which create more or less resistance. Ask for advice at the store where you make your purchase to ensure that you get the set that will benefit you most.

Manual resistance and range of motion exercises are good fitness building options that require no equipment but can, along with a solid program of static stretching, increase both mobility and flexibility and make daily activities much easier to accomplish. Body-weight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in combination with 'dips' and 'rickshaws', can make transfers much less complicated.

Are you working with very weak muscles an/or spasticity? Is exercising against gravity difficult? Try using a chair or counter top to help eliminate the force of gravity on the muscle by supporting the limb being exercised. It is important to reduce the risk of over-training and over-use injuries brought on by too much exertion. Top athletes and their trainers realize that training and exercise are just stimuli designed to create an adaptation, but you don't have to be an Olympic athlete to exercise smart.

Take the time to pick up the basics of exercise from any of dozens of good books readily available at libraries or bookstores, or surf the internet for ideas, then develop an exercise program that you can do at home. If you don't like to read or don't have a computer, pick up the phone. Call your local gym, YMCA, the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology, The Active Living Alliance, or any of a host of other groups for information, books, advice and written material that can help inform you about how to get fit and stay that way.

Manual resistance and range of motion exercises are good fitness building options that require no equipment but can, along with a solid program of static stretching, increase both mobility and flexibility and make daily activities much easier to accomplish.

Getting fit is a goal we should all work towards. From lifting soup cans, to taking a good sprint in your chair two or three time a week, there are hundreds of ways that you can make your life more active and more fulfilling. A better life through fitness is available to anyone - and I'm certainly proof of that!