Battle the Bulge Without the Gym: 10 Indoor Workouts for Winter

For many, the long winter months bring skiing, sledding, and other outdoor activities. For others, winter slams the door on running and other warm-weather workouts that keep the extra pounds off. Going to the gym can be expensive, but working out at home can be just as effective. Here are 10 suggestions for affordable indoor workouts.

Yoga classes may be pricey, but practicing at home is a freebie, and yoga mats are readily available from any number of retailers starting at less than $20. Learn poses and follow entire routines for various skill levels for free at DoYogaWithMe.

One of the most challenging, effective, and economical workouts may be the simplest: Do 100 burpees as fast as you can. Burpees burn fat, build functional strength, and require no equipment whatsoever. Not sure what a burpee is? A YouTube video explains.

Believe it or not, a deck of cards is a useful prop for an intense body workout. Here are the rules: Each suit corresponds to a different exercise (e.g., pushups, sit-ups, burpees, or squats), and the number on the card is the number of reps to perform. Assign face cards whatever value suits your fitness level. Draw a card, do the exercise, and work through the deck as quickly as possible.

Circuit training is an excellent way to burn calories, particularly when time is short. Pick a few favorite exercises (or least favorite, depending on how you look at it), and spend 30 seconds doing each, quickly transitioning from one exercise to the next. Once you’ve completed the “circuit,” it’s time to start from the beginning.

The 100 Pushups Challenge (with its very own eponymous website) is a training program with the advantages of a clear goal and straightforward monitoring of progress toward the magic number. Bragging rights naturally flow: Being able to do 100 pushups in a row is quite impressive.

Burn calories by doing housework. An hour of mopping is worth 170 calories for a 150-pound person according to Calorie Lab, and vigorously tackling several cleaning tasks for the same period eats up 204 calories. Carrying groceries upstairs works off calories at a rate of 442 per hour. Alternatively, fill a backpack with some old textbooks and walk up and down the stairs.

Another source of fitness inspiration is YouTube. Search for the term “workouts” plus specific types of exercise programs, such as core workouts or indoor cardio workouts, and find thousands of results — some general, some very specific. Shorter clips teach an exercise or routine while entire channels, such as BeFit, are dedicated to fitness.

App stores are stocked with scores of cheap or free fitness apps for smartphones and tablets. Complete workouts are available at no cost with iOS and Android apps such as Skimble’s Workout Trainer, Johnson & Johnson’s Official 7 Minute Workout, and Sworkit.

Don’t rule out workout DVDs, which often come in sets. Look for discs that work many muscle groups and target different areas, such as core, upper body, and lower body. To save money, borrow exercise DVDs from the library instead of buying.

Another option for a cheap indoor workout is to invest in home gym equipment. A treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike may not be worth the price for people who prefer to exercise outdoors, but smaller and less costly fitness equipment to use at home include a jump rope, a balance ball, kettlebells, and dumbbells.

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