Alaska Regional Hospital - August 10, 2020

If you're avoiding the gym due to safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic, you're not alone. Many people are looking for ways to practice safe social distancing while maintaining an exercise regimen, including recreating previous workout routines at home.

The good news is you don't have to buy expensive, clunky machines to get results at home. In fact, you only need a few affordable and easy–to–use items. These five equipment essentials for a home gym are all you need to get started. (Bonus: If you don't have extra space to designate as your "gym" area, you can store all these items in one closet!)

  1. Dumbbells: Dumbbells, or hand weights, are great for strengthening and sculpting the upper and lower body. Start with a set of 3–pound and 5–pound weights, then add heavier weights as you get stronger.

    Working out with weights may sound intimidating, but your body will thank you for it. Weight training can help you lose weight and keep it off, as well as strengthen and protect your bones. Start with 10–12 reps of these four basic strength–training moves: shoulder presses, bicep curls, knee extensions and wall squats.

  2. Fitness bands: Like dumbbells, elastic fitness bands help build muscle. Did you know doing resistance exercises, just twice a week improves how your body uses insulin if you have type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the journal Diabetes Care?

    Fitness bands are very portable, so you can easily move your workout to a park or other outdoor setting. Bands come in different resistance levels—coded by color—so you can choose what you need based on your ability and the type of exercises you enjoy. Start with a medium–strength band. You can increase the band's resistance by folding it lengthwise or adjusting how you hold it.

  3. Step box: This adjustable platform helps ramp up cardio workouts or strength–training exercises like lunges or calf raises. Repeatedly stepping on and off these low boxes—forward, backward and sideways—is also a great way to improve your balance.
  4. Yoga mat: Even if you don't do yoga, these cushy, non–slip mats can support you while doing ab workouts, floor exercises and stretches. Yoga mats also give you traction while standing and are great for outdoor workouts.
  5. Instructional DVDs and videos: Avoid workout boredom by bringing expert trainers into your home via DVDs or online videos. This media can introduce you to new routines and teach you the proper form. Plus, a good teacher can be a virtual workout buddy and keep you motivated.