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The Benefits of Working Out at Home

Sports clubs are great for getting physically fit, but you can reap results with a simple home gym.

Medically reviewed in February 2022

Updated on February 9, 2022

Going to the gym can mean you get an excellent workout. But for some people, the expense and travel time can be tough. Others are uncomfortable working out among other people.

But staying home doesn’t mean giving up on fitness. In fact, working out at home can be as effective as going to the gym. All you need is a little space, some simple equipment, and the motivation to get moving.

Location, location, location
In a 2008 study published in Diabetes Care, researchers had middle-aged adults who were at risk for type 2 diabetes do a resistance-training workout for the better part of a year. Some were given gym programs, while others were given simple, low-tech exercises they could do using household objects (like soup cans), elastic bands for resistance, and their own body weight (think push-ups).

By the end of the study, participants in both groups had lost about the same amount of weight. And the number of people with abnormally high blood sugar—a condition called impaired glucose tolerance—dropped significantly in both groups.

Many people got interested in home exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2021 study in Clinical and Experimental Hypertension compared home-based versus gym-based exercise programs in middle-aged men with hypertension. Both led to improvements in fitness and body weight.

One thing is clear: Exercising at home definitely beats not exercising. A 2021 study in Ageing Research Reviews combined data from 17 studies of unsupervised home-based exercise programs in older adults. The authors concluded that, compared with not exercising, this type of exercise can improve muscle strength, muscular endurance, and balance, among other aspects of fitness.

Do your own thing
Whether you prefer the gym scene or the privacy of your own home, the most important thing is to choose a workout you like. For home workouts, you can keep it simple with a few hand weights, some resistance bands, a sturdy box for step exercises, and a mat. Try to get in 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, plus two sessions a week of resistance training.

In addition, you can turn your errands into exercise and stay active while you’re sitting in a chair, grabbing groceries, or waiting in line.

Article sources open article sources

Katie McCallum. Are At-home Workouts Actually Effective? Houston Methodist On Health. August 20, 2020.
Islami F, Saghebjoo M, Kazemi T, Hedayati M. Gym and home-based combined training in men with primary hypertension: are they equally effective on functional fitness profile, body composition components, and biochemical parameters of hypertension?. Clin Exp Hypertens. 2021;43(8):758-771.
Payne WR, Walsh KJ, Harvey JT, et al. Effect of a low-resource-intensive lifestyle modification program incorporating gymnasium-based and home-based resistance training on type 2 diabetes risk in Australian adults. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2244-2250.
Chaabene H, Prieske O, Herz M, et al. Home-based exercise programmes improve physical fitness of healthy older adults: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review and meta-analysis with relevance for COVID-19. Ageing Res Rev. 2021;67:101265.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need? Page last reviewed October 7, 2020.

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