At-home workouts are a great way to stay fit, especially when you are short on time. But that does not mean you have to plunk down all of your pennies on fancy fitness equipment like treadmills and elliptical machines. Instead, consider these four low-cost fitness items that are all you need to get in a solid sweat.
Fitness benefits: By balancing on this big rubber ball, you engage your core, back and butt muscles. You can also do strength workouts using the stability ball as a light (and extra-large) weight as well as use the stability ball to perform muscle-elongating stretches.
Cost: $20-$30 -- try a stability ball by Gaiam.
Fitness move: Work your abs by holding the stability ball and doing side bends.
Grab the ball and hold it in front of your stomach. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, tucking in your tailbone and engaging your abs. Raise the ball above your head and straighten your arms, then slowly lean your hands over to your right. Be sure to keep both of your feet planted firmly on the floor, and bend as much as you can. Hold for five seconds. Return your arms above your head, and then drop them down in front of your stomach again.Then do the same routine on your left side, returning to your starting position each time. Perform 10 repetitions for each side.
Fitness benefits: Lifting dumbbells is a great way to strengthen and tone specific muscle groups, like your upper arms, back and shoulders. And they add extra weight while working on lower-body moves like lunges and calf raises.
Cost: About $60 for a set of 3-,5- and 8-pound weights -- try these dumbbells by Cap Barbell.
Fitness move: Work your lower body with dumbbell lunges.
Stand up straight with a five- or eight-pound dumbbells held at your side. Extend your right leg about two feet behind your left. Bending your left knee slightly, slowly drop the right knee down into a lunge position, keeping your arms firmly planted at your waist. Gently return to a standing position, then repeat the motion with your right leg in front. Perform 10 repetitions for each leg.
Fitness benefits: These bands, which are simply stretchy tubing with a handle at each ends, can increase your coordination, balance and work many different muscle groups with various exercises.
Cost: About $20 for a set of three (in various resistance strengths) -- try these resistance bands by Altus (shown at left).
Fitness move: Tone your upper arms with resistance band bicep curls. While standing, place the band around the bottom of the feet and hold the handles. Keep your arms locked at your side and slowly bring your hands (keeping wrists straight) up to your chest by bending at the elbows, without moving your elbows forward. Hold for two seconds. Then slowly bring your arms back to their starting position. Perform curls for 15 repetitions.
Fitness benefits: An awesome cardio boost -- a 10-minute program jump rope session can be as effective as a 30-minute jog, and is great for developing long and lean muscles.
Cost: $15-$30 -- try this jump rope by HealthyJump.
Fitness move: Build endurance and burn fat by doing speed repeats with the jump rope.
Warm up by marching in place for five minutes. Grab your jump rope and jump as fast as you can for a minute, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this jump/rest rotation for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool down by slowly jumping or marching in place for five minutes.
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