Being holed up during the lockdown has taken a toll on all our physical and mental health. It has led us to live a sedentary lifestyle, being either in bed, on the couch, or a chair. Zero to less movement all these months makes one feel inactive and lazy, to a point where it affects our moods as well. Not to mention, it also leads to weight gain; that in itself can lead to various other problems soon, if not curbed at the right time.  

Although our movement has been limited to our homes only, it is still possible to cross off those fitness goals! Various cardio exercises can aid the strengthening of your muscles and maintain or loseweight. For those of you who are unaware, a cardio workout is a combination of movements that elevates your heart rate and uses the full strength of your limbs. Thus, allowing you to tone your body and also, sweat the gains away. All you need is an exercise mat, shoes, and athletic wear! Below are some fun and effective cardio exercises you can do at home:

1.      High Knees

High knees are nothing but running in one place, and the only difference is that you raise your knees as high as you can when you lift your leg.  

How to:
  • Stand in one place, keeping your legs together and arms firmly at your sides
  • Raise one knee toward your chest.Lower the raised leg and repeat the same with the other knee
  • Continue alternating knees, while alternately lifting your arms up and down  

Benefits: It works on your thighs, calves, and hamstrings; and also engages your core. It also raises your heart rate and improves your hand and leg coordination.

2.      Jump Rope  

A childhood classic, jump rope, or a skipping rope might seem childish, but it has a variety of benefits if taken seriously. Even if you don’t have the space to perform this exercise with an actual jump rope, you canal ways pretend to have one, and mimic the act and still gain maximum benefits.

How to:
  • Stand with your legs closed in together
  • Step on the rope and ensure both handles are close to your elbows, if not adjust the size
  • Once you have the right size, hold both rope handles in one hand each practice jumping as the rope glides from under your feet
  • You can try walking as you skip,jumping with high knees, alternate feet as well to change the rhythm as you get the flow

Benefits: It burns calories rapidly, increases your heart rate, and builds endurance. It strengthens your entire body as well.  

3.      Jumping Jacks  

Jumping Jacks provide you with complete body workout as it requires a lot of strength and is a lot of fun! The best part is that you do not need any special equipment either. Jumping jacks are said to burn 100 calories in 10 minutes.
How to:
  • Stand with your legs together with knees bents lightly. Let your arms be firmly on your sides
  • Jump as high as you can, spread your legs up to shoulder length  
  • Raise your arms in mid-air, so that your body forms an X
  • Jump back to the center, landing softly in the same position as you started

Benefits: You gain muscle strength and agility, burn a lot of calories and also enable better blood circulation while maintaining blood pressure as well.

4.      Squats:

Squats are the traditional way to strengthen your glutes, core, and lower body. You can add a variety of other movements to squats. For instance, you may do a squat jump routine where after each squat,you jump right up and squat again repeatedly. Or, you can do a squat plus knee touch wherein after a squat, you stand right up and touch your knee with the opposite hand.  
How to:  
  • Stand with your feet slightly apart from the length of your hips. Make sure your toes point outwards
  • As you squat down, let your arms be straight, parallel to the ground
  • Push your butt back, as you bend your knees
  • Engage your core in the process
  • Focus on keeping your knees at the same length as your feet

Benefits:  It engages your core and lower body and helps in toning your thigh muscles and calves.

5.      Spot jogging

A classic, spot jogging is nothing but jogging at one place, that is, in a stationary position. It can be a warm-up exercise or apart of your workout routine. You could bring variations to it by adding high knees or butt kicks to it now and then.

How to:

  • Start by marching in one place to warm up your lower body
  • Slowly pick up the pace
  • Lift your arms alternately. If your right leg is up, lift your left arm
  • Focus on your breathing as you jog

·Benefits: It promotes weight loss as it burns calories and fat. It also improves your cardiovascular function.

6.      Lunges

If you have ever bent down to pick up a coin or tie your shoestring, you know what a lunge is. Lunges, if done continuously, work on your lower body, you can add variations to it by lunging as you walk or lateral lunges.
How to:  
  • Stand with feet hip-width apart
  • Take one step forward with one leg
  • Balance your weight on your front foot as you lower your hips, keeping the front foot flat and the heel of your other foot lifted
  • Bend until knee behind almost touches the floor, and the front knee is directly above the ankle, creating 90°bend in both knees
  • Push yourself back to your starting position

Benefits: This exercise works on your lower body,especially your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. It can help you develop lower-body strength as well.

Don’t forget to do some warm-up exercises to allow your body some preparation before engaging in strenuous workouts. Keep a dry towel and water bottle at an arm’s reach. A proper diet and a 30-minute cardio session are all you need to reach your fitness goals!

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