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Weightlifting laundry detergent and other exercise ideas

Raise your hand if exercise was one of your New Year’s resolutions. Raise your other hand if you’ve already given up on keeping your resolution.

Now lean down and touch your toes with both of those hands.

See? You’re already back on track to exercising again!

But all joking aside, exercise is one of those things many of us probably need more focus on. I know I do. I’ve tried off and on in the past to do different kinds of exercise routines, but it can be hard to stay the course and not get lazy. It can also be hard to carve time out of my schedule for exercise. And then, of course, there’s the added hurdle of trying to overcome tiredness or fatigue when I just don’t feel like exercising.

And this time of year, when it’s so cold all I want to do is curl up under a blanket by a roaring fireplace, I definitely don’t feel like getting up and unlocking all my stiff joints by exercising.

Clearly, there are barriers to overcome. But it can be done! I recently happened to read an article for NPR’s “Life Kit” series which suggested several home workout tips to make exercise a little bit easier. A lot of them are common sense, but they’re good to know anyway. Maybe not every tip will work for you or for me, but I’ll still share them here. You never know what will spark an idea, and exercise routines can be different for each person.

Firstly, plan ahead. In my opinion, this seems like the most useful tip, especially for someone like me who really relies on scheduling things out to get stuff done. Write it down on your calendar or set an alarm to remind you to actually get off the couch and exercise. The article even suggested wearing exercise clothes around the house, so you don’t have to spend time on changing.

Next, “tiny spurts add up” or rather, every little bit counts. The personal trainer quoted in the article says even one minute of exercise can help get the blood flowing and improve your mood. It also suggested trying just five minutes of exercise at the end of every hour. Of all the tips here, I think this one might be the best because I’ve always thought the idea of finding the time to exercise for a solid hour pretty intimidating. Who has time for long stretches of exercise in our busy schedules? Not me! But taking 5, 10, 15 minutes here and there is definitely doable.

Once you find the time to exercise, you need to find yourself a place to do it. Make an “exercise corner” in your home. I’ve heard plenty of people say over the years that they just use their treadmill as an extra rack to hang laundry, so I understand that it’s not always easy to find the right “space.” I feel like we have to be more creative sometimes. My “exercise space” is just the spot in front of my TV. It helps me multitask. The article points out that you can really exercise anywhere in your house that you want: the kitchen, the bedroom, even the bathroom! Personally, I think I’ll stick to the living room, but everybody’s different!

This next tip doesn’t apply to me, but could be useful for many of you out there: incorporate your kids. Exercising together with your children can make it a much more entertaining activity than doing it alone, and you get the added benefit of extra family time. I also think encouraging kids to do fun exercise at an early age makes them less likely to be wary of the activity when they get older. A win-win for everyone!

This next tip is useful but also kind of hilarious. Did you know you can use household items as a substitute for gym equipment? According to the article, apparently so! They suggest using a can of beans or a wine bottle for some light weightlifting. (I don’t think I’d pick something breakable, to be honest…) Or you can use heavier items like a bag of flour (sounds potentially messy) or laundry detergent or a full backpack. Innovation is key!

I’ll combine the last two tips since they’re similar: “tap into community” and “explore virtual group classes.” If you’re the kind of person who does better when you do things in a group, exercising together with friends (even virtually) sounds like a good idea. My best friend and I sometimes call each other on the phone when taking an evening walk, and that makes it feel like it’s not even exercise at all.

I really think the important thing to remember is that exercise isn’t “one size fits all.” The benefits of exercise are definitely worth the hassle. I’m not always good with sticking to a routine, but I’ll keep trying.

How about you?

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.