Video anchor 12.MAY.2020 9 MIN READ | 9 MIN READ
Easy home exercises

12 EASY EXERCISES TO DO AT HOME

In response to the country’s increasing number of COVID-19 cases, Singapore has put in place several safety measures. Singaporeans are advised to stay at home and practise social distancing. Naturally, this means that gyms and public exercise facilities are closed and anyone who needs to exercise and get some fresh air do it alone. However, being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.

Here are 12 easy exercises you can do at home that are suitable for both beginners and experienced individuals. What’s even better is that you can do all of them with little to no equipment. Joanne Shaw, principal physiotherapist at Gleneagles Hospital shares how to achieve the correct form with these exercises and the potential injuries that beginners working out should lookout for.

1) BASIC SQUATS

Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes

Potential risk for injury: When done incorrectly, squats can cause knee sprain, tendonitis, tendon or cartilage tears, and lower back pain.

Equipment needed: none

Recommended reps: 12 – 15

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Tighten your core for stabilisation, then with your chest thrust upward, start to shift your weight back into your heels while pushing your hips behind you as if you are sitting down on a chair.
  3. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause. Then push up through your heels until you are back at your starting position.

2) LUNGES

Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves

Potential risk for injury: Stepping too far forward may cause muscle strains and/or ligament strain and tears. If you step too far back, you may put too much strain on your back knee.

Equipment needed: none

Recommended reps: 10 – 12 per leg

How to do it:

  1. Start by standing up straight.
  2. Step forward with one foot until your leg reaches a 90-degree angle. Make sure your rear knee remains parallel to the ground and your front knee doesn’t extend beyond your toes.
  3. Lift your front lunging leg to return to the starting position, and then do the same with your other leg.

3) KNEELING PUSH-UPS

Muscles targeted: Pectoral muscles, shoulder muscles, biceps, triceps

Potential risk for injury: When done daily, push ups may cause wrist, back, and elbow pain.

Equipment needed: none

Recommended reps: Start with 10

How to do it:

  1. Start with your hands and knees on the ground, and your gaze looking towards the floor.
  2. Place your hands shoulder distance apart. Make sure your knees are a comfortable distance apart.
  3. Lower your elbows until to bring your chest toward the ground. Be sure to keep your core muscles contracted. Breathe in as you lower yourself down.
  4. Pause for a second in the lowered position and exhale as you push up from the ground back to your starting position.

4) KNEELING SIDE PLANKS

Muscles targeted: Oblique abdominal muscles

Potential risk for injury: If you hold the side plank for longer than you’re able to, you may get a strain injury.

Equipment needed: None

Recommended reps: Hold for 15 seconds

How to do it:

  1. Lie on one side with your knees bent. Prop yourself onto your elbow on the same side.
  2. Brace your core and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulder to knees.
  3. Hold this position for about 15 seconds (or as long as you can) while breathing deeply. Roll over and repeat on the other side.

5) SIT-UPS

Muscles targeted: Hip flexors, chest, neck, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques

Potential risk for injury: Doing too many sit-ups may cause abdominal muscle strain as well as lower back and neck injuries.

Equipment needed: None

Recommended reps: 10

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your back. Bend your legs and plant your feet firmly on the ground to stabilise your lower body.
  2. Place your hands behind your ears without pulling your neck.
  3. Curl your upper body halfway up toward your knees and exhale as you do so.
  4. Slowly lower yourself to your starting point and inhale as you do so.

6) GLUTE BRIDGES

Muscles targeted: Gluteus muscles, abdominal muscles, hamstrings

Potential risk for injury: Raising your hips too high may hyperextend your lower back and lead to strain.

Equipment needed: None

Recommended reps: 10

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor right under your knees.
  2. Tighten your abdominal and gluteus muscles by pushing your lower back into the ground before you push upwards.
  3. Raise your hips to form a straight line from knees to shoulders.
  4. Hold the position for 20 seconds before returning to your starting position.

7) DEAD BUG

Muscles targeted: Erector spinae, obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis

Potential risk for injury: If you don’t pay attention to your form, you run the risk of injuring your lower back.

Equipment needed: none

Recommended reps: 5 – 12 per side

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. Get into the starting position by lifting your hands so your elbows are above your shoulders. Lift your legs so your knees are directly above your hips. This is your starting position.
  2. On exhale, slowly lower your right arm and left foot while keeping your leg bent until they’re just above the floor.
  3. On inhale, slowly bring them back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat with your left arm and right foot.

8) CHAIR DIPS

Muscles targeted: Triceps, pectoralis major, trapezius, serratus anterior

Potential risk for injury: Doing chair dips excessively may lead to tears of the tendons or ligaments.

Equipment needed: Chair

Recommended reps: 10 – 15

How to do it:

  1. Sit on your chair with your hands at your side and your feet planted firmly on the floor, hip-distance apart.
  2. Position your hands so that your palms are down beside your hips and grip the sides of the chair with your fingers.
  3. Move your torso forward off the chair with your arms extended. Your buttocks should hover over the floor and your knees should be slightly bent. Your heels should touch the floor a few inches in front of your knees.
  4. On inhale, slowly lower your body until your elbows form a 90-degree angle.
  5. On exhale, push yourself back up to your starting position with your elbows fully extended.

9) CRUNCHES

Muscles targeted: Abdominal muscles

Potential risk for injury: The repeated force of crunches can cause the discs in your back to bulge, press on nerves and cause lower back pain. This can potentially cause a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc.

Equipment needed: None

Recommended reps: 10 – 25

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your back and bend your legs to stabilise your lower body.
  2. Cross your hands to opposite shoulders.
  3. Lift your head and shoulder blades from the ground and exhale as your rise.
  4. On inhale, lower yourself back to your starting point.

10) LOWER BACK CURLS

Muscles targeted: Back muscles

Potential risk for injury: If you push yourself too much, this exercise may strain the lower back muscles.

Equipment needed: None

Recommended reps: 8 – 12

How to do it:

  1. Lie down flat with your arms by your sides.
  2. Slowly raise your chest upwards with your arms down. Keep your head up during this move.
  3. Once you’ve reached the highest point you can, lower yourself back down.

11) LATERAL LEG RAISES

Muscles targeted: Gluteus maximus, hips, obliques

Potential risk for injury: Lateral leg lifts can cause hip and back pain when done incorrectly.

Equipment needed: None

Recommended reps: 10 – 12 per leg

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your right side. Your body should be a straight line with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Cradle your head with your right arm for support. Place your left hand out for extra support or simply rest it on your leg/hip.
  3. On exhale, gently raise your left leg up until you feel the muscles flex in your lower back or obliques.
  4. On inhale, lower the leg back down on top of your other leg.

12) BICEP CURLS

Muscles targeted: Biceps

Potential risk for injury: Constant overuse of your biceps can cause bicep tear or strain.

Equipment needed: Dumbbells (3kg or 5kg recommended)

Recommended reps: 10

How to do it:

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand and, keeping your upper arms stationary, curl the weights until the dumbbells are at shoulder level.
  2. Focus on keeping your elbows still – only your lower arm should move.
  3. Squeeze your bicep at the top of the contraction then lower slowly and repeat.

TIPS FOR EXERCISING AT HOME

1. Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercising. Water helps regulate your body temperature and lubricates your joints. Drink 2 – 3 cups of water before and after your workout and drink 1 cup of water every 15 minutes during your workout.

2. Eat a healthy breakfast

If you plan on exercising in the morning, make sure you eat a well-balanced breakfast to fuel you through your workout. Focus on carbohydrates for maximum energy.

3. Warm up before exercising and cool down after exercising

Warming up before your workout raises your body temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles. It also lessens your risk of injury. Cooling down allows your body to recover your pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure.

4. Listen to your body

If it hurts, stop! Pushing your body past its limits can result in serious injury.

5. Get an exercise buddy to keep you company

An exercise buddy can help motivate you and keep you company on your workouts. In view of social distancing measures, do so virtually.

6. Set a realistic goal for yourself

Make sure your fitness goals are achievable, specific, and time-bound so you can focus your efforts and develop a more structured personal fitness plan.

As much as we try to avoid them, workout injuries can happen to anyone – beginners or otherwise. Workout injuries are more common than you think and can be anything from a pulled muscle to a broken bone. While some injuries may heal on their own, be mindful of orthopaedic emergencies that warrant an immediate visit to your nearest accident and emergency department. These include:

  • Bleeding from a deep cut
  • Broken bones which require closing, alignment, surgery, splinting, or casting
  • Concussions
  • Dislocations
  • Severe sprains and ligament tears
  • Tendon ruptures

 

Following the end of the circuit breaker period, Gleneagles Hospital and our 24-hour A&E clinics will continue to deliver essential healthcare services to those in need. If you or your family members are experiencing urgent medical symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Rest assured we have implemented measures to safeguard the health of our patients, visitors and staff. Learn more about how we keep our hospitals safe.

We are #OnYourSideInThisFight to stay COVID-safe.

 

Article reviewed by Joanne Shaw, principal physiotherapist at Gleneagles Hospital

References

How Many Squats Should I Do a Day? A Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/how-many-squats-should-i-do-a-day

Knee pain from squatting: What to do. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325246

What Muscles Do Lunges Work? Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/lunges-muscles-worked

What happens if you do pushups every day? Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326149

How to Do a Side Plank. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-safely-progress-your-side-plank-exercise-4016853

Situps vs. Crunches. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/sit-ups-vs-crunches

How to Do a Basic Bridge Exercise. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-bridge-exercise-3120738

How to Do the Dead Bug Exercise. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/dead-bug-exercise

How to Do the Dead Bug Exercise. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-dead-bug-exercise-4685852

How to Do Chair Dips. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/chair-dips

Pushups and Tips for Beginners. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/push-ups-for-beginners

21 of the Best Exercise for Beginners to Try at Home. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.menshealth.com/uk/building-muscle/a754099/the-15-best-beginners-exercises-to-do-at-home/

No Gym Required: How to Get Fit at Home. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/no-gym-required-how-to-get-fit-at-home

Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts, retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045506

Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517

Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment. Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/workout-injuries-prevention-and-treatment

What is Considered an Orthopedic Emergency? Retrieved on 30 April 2020 from https://www.coastalorthoteam.com/blog/what-is-considered-an-orthopedic-emergency

12.MAY.2020