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Millions of Americans have now been without a gym for months due to coronavirus-related lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, and let's face it: many of them may remain gymless for weeks or months to come. Even if gyms open back up, not everyone will feel comfortable returning anytime soon.
This may be especially true if you are considered high-risk, such as people with hypertension. Plus, activity can lower blood pressure and keep you healthier.
How can you get in a good workout without spending a fortune? Surprisingly, there are many types of workout equipment for under $20. Supplemented with some walking, biking, or dancing (check online for fun workouts!), these items can keep you strong, fit, and healthy outside of the gym. And, gym or not, Lark for Hypertension is there to help you lower blood pressure.
1. Jump Rope
Jumping rope can burn calories faster than jogging, and you can stay indoors while you do it. A rope designed for exercise or speed jumping is usually best. Start off with only a little at a time to lower injury risk, since it is a high-impact, repetitive exercise.
It can be surprising to find yourself tripping a lot when you first start jumping, especially if you have memories of being a jump rope champ in grade school. Keep at it, though, and your coordination will improve.
2. Resistance Bands
With a set of resistance bands, you can work all of your muscle groups using a range of levels of resistance without needing to worry about heavy weights. Some resistance bands are like wide, big rubber bands, while others are a little more like cables with handles. Either type is fine.
There are dozens of movements you can do with a kettlebell to work your upper and lower body and core. A lighter, 5-lb., kettlebell can do the trick, while heavier ones can be a little more intense. Kettlebells can also give you an aerobic workout if you do the exercises continuously instead of stopping for long periods of time between each exercise. If you would prefer not to shell out for a kettlebell, a bag of flour or a gallon of water can work for many exercises.
Dumbbells are classic tools for working your whole body with examples of simple exercises including bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, squats, and overhead press. A pair or two of light dumbbells can be under $20. You can also skip buying 1-lb. weights since a soup can or water bottle can serve the same purpose.
5. Yoga Mat
Yoga mats are not only great for yoga, but also for floor pilates and for an often-overlooked part of a full workout: stretching. While stuck at home and possibly with extra time on your hands, it may be a good time to get into the habit of stretching regularly. A yoga mat may not be absolutely necessary, but it could become your portable happy place if it starts to symbolize "you" time.
6. Hula Hoop
Like jump ropes, hula hoops may be reminiscent of childhood days on the schoolyard or playground, and like jump ropes, they may take a little practice to master again after years of not using them. Hula hooping can give you a strong core and even work your arms once you start to experiment with some more advanced moves.
7. Stretching rope
While there are many stretches you can do on your own, a stretching rope can help you get deeper into some areas. Formal stretching ropes are available, or you can do just as well with a piece of rope or a long towel that you already have at home.
8. Wobble board
Better balance can lower injury risk and prevent falls, but daily life does not always make us practice balance regularly. Using a wobble board, balance board, or inflatable stability disc can improve your balance without much effort. You can save time by lifting weights while standing on your wobble board or stability disc. Sitting on a stability disc on your chair while at your computer can also help improve your core stability. If you do not want to pay for a balancing aid, you can practice by standing on one foot at a time, and closing your eyes for a greater challenge.
9. Foam roller
Foam rollers enable you to give yourself a massage in your home, anytime. They can reduce injuries by keeping your muscles stretched out. They come in different firmnesses, with more experienced users needing the firmer options. Half-length (often called travel size) foam rollers are less expensive and just as functional.
10. Exercise ball
These large inflatable balls can be helpful for toning, core work, and yoga, and can double as chairs when you are working at a desk. Before purchasing yours, be sure to check the recommended size for your height. These balls usually come with their own pump, so there is no need to worry about how you will inflate it.
Lark helps you eat better, move more, stress less, and improve your overall wellness. Lark’s digital coach is available 24/7 on your smartphone to give you personalized tips, recommendations, and motivation to lose weight and prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.