Let’s say you don’t have dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands or workout machines. But you want to improve your functional and overall strength. How?

One of my favorites is called “bridges.” It’s best for clients who are having difficulty standing, walking. When I worked in a skilled nursing facility, my supervising physical therapist (PT) and I would assign hundreds of repetitions of this exercise. We had one person who would do 200-250 reps each session. He went from wheelchair bound to walking in 6 months. The reason: bridging is fairly easy to perform rep after rep.  Bridging stimulates glutes, hamstrings,major muscle groups that are responsible for standing and walking. Research has shown that bridging can reduce low back pain as well due to pelvic rotation and gluteal strengthening. 

To perform bridging, all you need is a floor or bed. I recommend seniors use their bed. Never get on the floor unless you’re absolutely sure you can transfer safely from the floor. Start by lying on your back with both knees bent. Feet apart about shoulder width, hands at your side on the bed, slowly lift your hips off the mattress, pause, then lower to the bed. Then Repeat. Perform at least 25 reps and go up from there. Click the link for a quick video demonstrating the exercise: https://youtu.be/tMeNjTj7AX0

The wall push-ups. Start by placing hands shoulder width apart against an open wall. Then slowly lower toward the wall, much like a standard push-up on the floor. Slowly but with more pace, “push” from the wall back into the starting position. Perform 10 reps. To progress: the further your feet are from the wall, the harder the exercise will be. To progress, perform at the countertop. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPeEzEhUs-U

Another great exercise is the laundry basket deadlift. Load up a laundry basket with weight (not too heavy at first) then place the basket on a coffee table (around shin height). Perform 10 reps. Maintain good posture, lift with your legs, keeping your head up. To progress, pick-up basket from the floor, like in the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AhD0rlnjE

The final exercise (the final four!) is the sit to stand from a chair. Find a sturdy chair with a solid seat/back (not a lift chair or recliner). Stand up, then sit down slowly, multiple times. Perform 10 reps. You will probably have to use arm rests to push-off. After a few weeks, you will build enough strength to progress to hands on your thighs or no hands to push-off. Then arms extended in front of you, then arms folded across your chest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNq9vtEXksc

You don’t need workout equipment at home to perform exercises. You don’t need a gym membership, either. Just use your environment at home!

Always talk to your doctor or healthcare professional before starting an exercise program. 

-Michael, PTA