How to stay active at home – no equipment required

March 20, 2020 | Health

Going to the gym may not be an option right now, but there are lots of ways to stay active while you’re at home, says Megan Denholm, an exercise specialist and programmer with MacEwan University Sport and Wellness.

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness fan or just getting started, use Megan’s customizable workout below to help fill the time, benefit your immune system, take care of your body and boost your mental wellbeing.

Build your own custom bodyweight exercise circuit 

  1. Choose your space. Roll out an exercise mat, if you have one, or find a soft area on the carpet to do floor exercises, and a hard spot (the kitchen floor usually works) for standing exercises.
  2. Select your favourite three (or up to five) exercises from the videos below (there’s lots of choices – squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, cardio and more).
  3. Pick your poison:
    • Rotate through the exercises you choose, spending 30 seconds on each. Repeat the circuit three or four times. 

    • Set a 10-minute timer on your phone and rotate through the exercises you choose, doing 10 reps of each. See how many rounds you can complete! 

  4. Do it all again. Three to five times a week is great, suggests Megan. If you want to work out more frequently, make sure to choose a different set of exercises to work a new muscle group (Megan says you should rest 48 hours before working the same muscle group again). You can also try increasing the difficulty (each of the videos below includes variations to make things a bit tougher) or your workout time. And you can always grab your backpack, load it with books and wear it while you’re working out. 

Bodyweight exercises

Choose three to five of the exercises Megan demonstrates below. In the video for each exercise, Megan starts with the easiest option and then moves through other variations that add difficulty.


Choose from: Regular squats, pulse squats (squat all the way down and then, half-up, half-down), or a squat hold (if you choose this option, hold it for 30 seconds).


Choose from: Basic split squat, pulse split squats or split squat hold.


Choose from: Basic glute bridge (up and down), glute bridge hold or alternating single leg lifts.


Choose from: Basic pushups (on your knees or on your toes). Add an include by putting your hands on a countertop or putting your feet up on a couch or chair. 


Choose from: Basic plank on your hands or forearms (hold for 30 seconds), plank step-outs, plank jacks or plank shoulder taps.


Choose from: Regular side planks (start on your knee or the side of your foot and hold for 30 seconds). Add difficulty with side plank dips or side plank rotation.


Choose from: Regular v sit hold (30 seconds), twist, or twist and extend.


Choose from: Jumping jacks, high-knee runners or butt kicks.

Want to mix things up?

Megan has a few ideas for how to repurpose household items into gym equipment.

  • Milk jugs and soup cans are great substitutes for dumbbells.

  • A couch or chair is perfect for step-ups, doing push-ups on an incline or decline, tricep dips or mixing things up with your planks.

  • Grab a couple of cloths (on tile, hardwood or laminate) or paper plates (on carpet) and you can slide your way to an extra challenge when doing lunges, and planks.

Stay healthy. Stay fit. And we’ll look forward to seeing you in person again as soon as Sport and Wellness reopens.

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