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Published on May 12, 2020

closeup of man tying shoes on stairs

Get Creative With Exercise at Home

Your reusable cloth bags for groceries just found another use: They’re great for curls.

Simply fill a bag with a few cans of soup or a handful of heavy books, grab one of the handles and work those biceps. There’s an almost unlimited number of things around the house that can help you stay strong and keep working out – even without a gym to visit.

“One easy-to-overlook workout almost everyone has is stairs – the stair-stepper machines are popular for a reason, so head up and down your staircase and get some blood flowing,” said Jackie Haggar-Tuschen, Director at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. “You can use stairs for stretching, too, and if you want a challenging strength workout, try inverted push-ups on the stairs. Being creative is the key to working out at home.”

Avera McKennan Fitness Center Fitness Manager Brooks Little said the bag-as-a-weight idea can help anyone complete an upper body workout.

“You can do rows, triceps extensions, bicep curls and lateral raises for your shoulders, all with a gym bag or book bag with some weight in it,” said Little. “You can use heavy cans of soup as lightweight dumbbells. You can also do lower-body work with a broomstick or mop.”

Fabric softener or liquid laundry detergent bottles (with handles) can be slipped on a broom, and you can use it to do squats, power-cleans or lunges. “Doing the motion, even with a lighter weight, will help you keep moving and stay active,” Little said. “Use your imagination – the whole house has potential.”

Online Help

Karri Stearns, group exercise coordinator at Avera McKennan Fitness Center, has been hosting regular workouts on Facebook. The videos play “live” but remain on the center’s page for folks who want to join them, watch them and get going.

“We’ve featured sessions on strength and balance, power walking, Pilates sculpt – a nice mix and people seem to enjoy watching them,” Stearns said. “A lot of staying active is keeping at it. You can walk in place, or watch the videos and join us. Or just pull cans out of the pantry and use those for resistance.”

One thing not to do is go “big” right off the bat.

“Start small if you haven’t been working out. Maybe just start with some stretching and balance before you do too much,” said Haggar-Tuschen. “Do what you can but not so much you end up injured or so sore that you don’t want to do it the next day. Keep at it – develop your own accountability for daily workouts. It helps your immune system, helps you feel better and can really clear your mind, too.”

Find a wide range of Avera McKennan Fitness Center exercise videos here.

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