Modern Aging

Just as we’ve settled happily into the summer season, our routines are going to change again as summer comes to end. For many of us, going on walks and exercising outdoors has kept us physically healthy and mentally sane through this pandemic. However, as fall approaches, we’ll be indoors more often than we would like. But, don’t use the chillier weather as an excuse to stay home all day.  Put on a windbreaker to combat the chilly wind or your stylish rain jacket to beat the rain. Sometimes a breath of fresh air outside is the mental break we need from work and our hectic homes.

Realistically, as we start to enter the fall and cooler weather, we won’t be able to exercise outdoors as much as we love those daily summer night walks. This doesn’t mean we stop exercising though. There are so many exercises and full body workouts to do at home with no equipment necessary. Here are some of my favorite workouts and exercises to do at home when I’m shut indoors by cold and rainy weather. 

Yoga

Yoga is the perfect practice for those of us looking to calm the mind and move the body. The fundamental goal of yoga is to connect the mind to the body. Body awareness in yoga is similar to mindfulness meditation, but yoga has the added benefit to strengthen your muscles and help with balance and overall circulation.  There are many different types of yoga with different focuses, so there is bound to be one that suits you. 

Hatha Yoga is great for beginners. It is focused on body alignment and body awareness as you move your body. For a more fast paced, heart pumping practice, try yoga vinyasa. Yoga vinyasa is a more vigorous practice that teaches you how to flow through sequences of poses and move with your breath.  If you’re looking to strengthen, power yoga is for you. Power yoga is an even more vigorous type of yoga vinyasa that will challenge your body to hold poses, move with your breath, and even incorporate light weights into the practice as you get stronger. 

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Pilates

You want a strong core not just to look good or to have a 6 pack, but to improve your posture, stabilize your lower back, and improve balance and coordination. Unlike the 10-minute ab exercises that are popular and probably lurking in your recommended section on YouTube, pilates is a ~45-minute core-based workout that does not overwork or strain your muscles. The exercises are performed in low repetitions and focused on placement, rhythm, and breathing, rather than performing as many repetitions as possible. A consistent pilates practice will strengthen your deepest abdominal muscles which are the muscles that hold your organs and everything together. Your deep abs are often neglected in most “10-minute abs workouts,” but strengthening these muscles is really the key to a flat tummy.

Dance

Close the door. Put on headphones. Put on your favorite playlist and dance like no one is watching because no one is watching. Jamming to your favorite soundtrack is a great way to have fun and get loose. Plus, you can dance pressure-free, not having to worry what others think. If you are not really into freestyle dancing, but prefer a structured dance class, follow along to a dance workout of your choice that you can find through a simple search on YouTube. 

Soup Can Exercises

If you’re a gym person, but the gyms are closed where you are, don’t be discouraged. You can strength train at home. Grab two cans of beans and you have your make-shift dumbbells. You can actually work out many groups of muscles with just two soup cans at home.   Don’t have cans?  Then try bottles or jugs of water!

1) Tricep Extension

  1. Holding 1 soup can in each hand, extend both arms above your head right by your ears. 
  2. Bend your elbows back to a 90°angle so that your thumbs point behind you.
  3. Extend your arms back to the vertical starting position to complete 1 repetition of this exercise.

Tip: Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid locking your knees. Contract your abdominal muscles and glutes slightly through the duration of each repetition to avoid arching your lower back.

2) Lunge

  1. Hold 1 soup can in each hand beside you while standing with your feet hip distance apart. 
  2. Step your right foot forward and bend your right knee to a 90°angle while bending your left knee and lifting the left heel off the ground slightly.
  3. Step your right foot back to the starting position, then step your left foot forward Bending both knees while lifting the right heel off the ground slightly.
  4. Step your left foot back to the starting position to complete 1 repetition of this exercise on each side. 

Tip: Stabilize your upper body by squeezing your abdominal muscles through the entire movement. As you bend the front leg in your lunge, use the ball of the back foot to balance yourself.

3) Bicep Curl

  1. Hold 1 soup can in each hand and place your arms down beside you while standing with your feet hips distance apart. 
  2. Bend your right arm at the elbow joint to bring the soup can up and then, bring your arm back down beside you. 
  3. Bend your left arm at the elbow joint to bring the soup can up and then back down. 
  4. You can choose to alternate repetitions of this exercise between your right and left arm or do 1 arm at a time.

4) Sumo Squat

  1. Hold 1 soup can in each can. Stand wider than hips distance with your toes pointing out and your heels pointing in. 
  2. Extend your arms straight in front of you so that your thumbs are facing each other and your arms are level with your chest. 
  3. Bending at your knees, lower down as if you are sitting back onto a chair, then come back up to complete 1 repetition of this exercise

Tip: Stabilize your upper body by squeezing your core and your glutes slightly. Engaging your core and glutes is extremely important to avoid injury to your lower back. 

5) Standing Twist

  1. Hold 1 soup can in each hand with elbows bent. Stand with your feet hips distance apart. 
  2. Pick up your right foot, pulling it towards your chest as you twist your upper body towards the right while staying upright. 
  3. Slowly place your right foot back down as you twist back to face the front. 
  4. Pick up your left foot, pulling it towards your chest as you twist your upper body towards the left while staying upright.
  5. Slowly place your left foot back down as you twist back to face the front. 
  6. Alternate repetitions of this exercise between your right and left side. 

Tip: Contract your abs as you pick up your feet and twist to engage the core. Check in with your lower back to make sure that it is not arched by squeezing your glutes slightly. 

For each of the soup can exercises above, I recommend that you do 3 sets of 12-25 repetitions each. Take breaks in between. Listen to your body. Don’t judge yourself for doing a few repetitions less than you expected. With each repetition, you are already getting stronger.

Celeste Cheung

Celeste Cheung is a student at Cornell University majoring in Nutritional Science. She is also a pre-medicine student looking to build a multidisciplinary foundation of knowledge on the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of human health.

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