At Home Gym Essentials

It doesn’t matter how many workout classes are streaming online right now — for free or at a low cost. At the end of the day, life in quarantine has been a tremendous buzzkill on our fitness routine. Sure, the snack pantry continues to look good, but our bodies, not so much. And not all of us are runners or cyclists thriving outdoors. But after so many weeks of allowing ourselves to fall off the wellness wagon, it starts to take a toll on overall health, not just physical. Even as things begin to open back up again life as we know it is far from normal.

Beyond the external, keeping in shape affects what’s going on internally — cardiovascular health, flexibility, immune system, etc. When it comes down to it, working out can also fight off potential threats, like diseases.

Right now, the World Health Organization is recommending 60 minutes of physical activity a day for those 5 to 17 years old, and at least 150 for anyone older than 18.

“Regular physical activity also improves mental health and can reduce the risk of depression, cognitive decline, and delay the onset of dementia and improve overall feelings of wellbeing,” the World Health Organization website states.

If you’ve never had to work out at home before, preferring the gym or various fitness classes, you may not know where to begin. Here are some essentials that are readily available for purchase on Amazon, or their websites directly, with endless possibilities on how to use them. You’ll find these purchases to be beneficial for travel, time with friends, or for that quick fitness fix from the comfort of home.

The Gaiam yoga mat (4mm) isn’t just for yogis. The $22 mat is great for all workout types. The thickness is better for those needing more cushion on the joints, but still lightweight enough to carry from room to room. If you need a little extra padding under your knees or hands, it’s also thin enough to fold to create that extra comfort. Don’t want those hands and feet slipping off? It has a nonslip texture, which is great for really anything you do on it. Place it over carpet, hardwood, or even a nicely-manicured lawn. Plus, it comes in tons of designs and patterns that gives added pleasure to working out.

The XYLsports jump rope is a quick way to get in cardio without ever leaving your room. The best part about this $11 9-foot, 8-inch adjustable rope is that it also comes with a padded grip. Coil it up and take it anywhere, from the bedroom to the beach, for an easy workout that slims the waist and benefits the heart. Fold the rope in half and use it stretch out arms and legs for improved flexibility. What’s great about a jump rope is that it’s a mindless activity, so you can do it while binge-watching your favorite show.

Fit Simplify’s resistance loop exercise bands come with a set of five varying resistance levels, for those starting out and/or needing the additional challenge. The $18 bands are a tremendous aid in target-training and an alternative to machines — which most don’t have access to right now. Place them below your feet to build arm strength, wrap them around your legs to burn those glutes, and add them to any guided workout like Pilates or yoga for extra difficulty. Fit Simplify products even come with eBooks that include workout tips. If you have an injury, use the bands to rebuild strength or retrain your muscle. And because they’re lightweight, it’s easy to carry them around in the bag they come with. There’s also a company lifetime guarantee.

Another piece of equipment I recommend is a yoga wheel— not just for yogi’s. If you’re looking to enhance your yoga practice, there’s a good chance you already own one. But for those who don’t end the day in shavasana, the wheel is still beneficial. Yoga wheels massage the spine, open the chest, lengthens hip flexors, and improves flexibility.

I would also recommend following these with a foam roller. Foam rollers relieve muscle tightness and soreness, help with pre or post-workout recovery, increase blood flow, and support lymphatic drainage — the removal of toxins from bodily tissue. Find the right one for you; they range in hardness, size, and texture.

This article originally appeared in The Independent Newspaper but has since been updated.