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Calisthenics

Exercise without equipment

Karen Miller | 10/15/2013, 6 a.m.
Chair Dip This pushing motion will strengthen your arm muscles National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health

When most people think of exercise, images of expensive gyms and sophisticated equipment come to mind. But you do not have to leave your house to exercise. You don’t even have to buy equipment. Your body and the force of gravity are all you need. Neither will cost you a penny.

Calisthenics are a form of exercise intended to increase strength and flexibility — all without equipment or apparatus. Examples are lunges, sit-ups, jumping jacks and squats. Calisthenics, which originated thousands of years ago in Greece, are a staple in military and law enforcement physical training and are increasing in popularity in “bootcamp” programs.

It is always advisable to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regime, particularly if you have not exercised in a long time or have orthopedic problems, such as knee or back pain. A trainer can offer tips on technique and proper body mechanics.

Following are a few simple calisthenics you can try in your home.


Chair Stand

photo

National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health

Chair Stand This exercise strengthens your abdomen and thighs

This exercise strengthens your abdomen and thighs and will make it easier to get in and out of the car or rise from a chair. If you have knee or back problems, talk with your doctor before trying this exercise.

  1. Sit toward the front of a sturdy, armless chair with knees bent and feet flat on floor, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean back with your hands crossed over your chest. Keep your back and shoulders straight throughout exercise. Breathe in slowly.
  3. Breathe out and bring your upper body forward until sitting upright.
  4. Extend your arms so they are parallel to the floor and slowly stand up.
  5. Breathe in as you slowly sit down.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times.
  7. Rest; then repeat 10-15 more times.

Wall Push-Up

photo

National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health

Wall Push-Up These push-ups will strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest.

These push-ups will strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest.

  1. Face a wall, standing a little farther than arm’s length away, feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean your body forward and put your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Slowly breathe in as you bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall in a slow, controlled motion. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  4. Hold the position for one second.
  5. Breathe out and slowly push yourself back until your arms are straight.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times. Rest; then repeat 10-15 more times.

Toe Stand

photo

National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health

Toe Stand This exercise will help make walking easier by strengthening your calves and ankles.

This exercise will help make walking easier by strengthening your calves and ankles. As you progress, try doing the exercise standing on one leg at a time for a total of 10-15 times on each leg. For an added challenge, try the exercise without holding on.

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, feet shoulder-width apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly.
  2. Breathe out and slowly stand on tiptoes, as high as possible.
  3. Hold position for one second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower heels to the floor.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times. Rest; then repeat 10-15 more times.

Chair Dip

photo

National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health

Chair Dip This pushing motion will strengthen your arm muscles

This pushing motion will strengthen your arm muscles even if you are not able to lift yourself up off the chair.

  1. Sit in a sturdy chair with armrests with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lean slightly forward; keep your back and shoulders straight.
  3. Grasp arms of chair with your hands next to you. Breathe in slowly.
  4. Breathe out and use your arms to push your body slowly off the chair.
  5. Hold position for one second.
  6. Breathe in as you slowly lower yourself back down.
  7. Repeat 10-15 times.