12 easy ways to exercise at home: stay fit and well from the comfort of home for free

You don't even need a whole room or gym equipment, you just need the basics

Exercise is essential, not just to maintain fitness levels but also to boost mental wellness – meaning it's never been more needed. With gyms closed many have been forced to exercise at home, but what if you don't have a home gym? Or all the gear? Fear not because there are everyday household essentials that can double up to help you exercise at home, at no cost.

Fitness coach and exercise expert Annie Deadman offers advice on the best alternative ways to workout from home.

12 Easy ideas for exercising at home

You don’t need masses of space to carry out your home workouts, but the area you use does need to be clear of clutter if you’re going to be getting the most out of your burpees and more. 

1. Use the sofa to keep in shape

living area with painting and blue wall and blue sofa with cushions and fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC/Trevor Richards)

Sitting bottoms on sofas is the most preferred method of use, but for now we have a great alternative use to help keep arms in good shape with tricep dips.

'A single chair is good too, says Annie. 'Also great for incline push-ups, for pistol squats and for holding onto during trickier balance moves.' Be sure to move rugs, so your footing won't slip. 'Have a soft cushion nearby to protect knees during especially intense stretches,' Annie adds.

2. Lean on dado-rail free walls

Using walls for support is as simple as it gets, yet so effective. A stretch of flat wall is all your need to carry out wall squats and handstands.

3. Cushion bare feet with carpet

Let your flooring determine which space you use. 'Carpet (with underlay for bounce) is good for doing your workout in bare feet.' Annie advises how working out with bare feet, 'helps balance and recruits more leg and core muscles.'

4. Use a tea towel as a makeshift slider

Hard flooring is good too, whether wood or tiles, for providing a great grounding for using sliders.  'You can use a tea towel instead of sliders which can be used on carpet or hard floor,' says Annie.

5. Use mirrors to perfect moves

Think of your home as a beautiful Barre studio, and use mirrors to set the scene. 'A full length mirror nearby is very useful,' suggest Annie, 'just to check your technique is spot-on and you’re hitting the right muscles.'

bathroom with white door and silver door handle

(Image credit: David Parmiter)

6. Hang bands on door handles

Annie recommends ordering a selection of resistance bands of various strengths, rather than investing in loads of different size dumbbells. These can be used all around the house, because all you need is a door handle.

'They can be hooked under table legs or door handles to provide resistance,' Annie explains. 'If using weights or bands, try and keep them in a cupboard or hidden out of view when you’re not training. Otherwise your living space doesn’t become your place of rest anymore, it becomes your gym.'

7. Workout near windows

'If possible try and work out by a window so you have a view of the world. You will feel less closed in or remote,' advises Annie. And let's not forget, windows can be opened to aerate the space - essential if your workout is raising temperatures.

'Maybe even choose the kitchen or utility room if it’s large enough, so you can have the back door open and a tiled floor might be cooler.'

8. Escape the everyday

It's key to feel in the zone to get the most out of any exercise plan. 'Get a mat, get your focus and position yourself as far away from your to-do list as possible,' says Annie.

'Choose whether you are going to work out in a clutter free space or whether you’re happy in the living room. Everyone is different but some prefer clear space for a clear mind.' 

'It takes motivation to stop work, get up, and move rooms to do a workout on your own, without the motivation of a full class at your gym. As you get used to it you will find what works for you.' 

9. Create a mindful space for meditation and yoga

yoga area with yoga mat and wooden floor and cushions and towel

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

Clear a space and lay out a yoga mat to set the scene. Mats can be easily rolled away to prevent your practise encroaching on your everyday use of the space. Although Annie points out, 'Some like to leave their yoga mat out all the time as a reminder that the workout must be done!

10. Appeal to the senses

Using emotive fragrance during a workout can help to boost your mood, ideal for the meditative focus. And more than that it can mask any sweaty aromas from more intense workouts. Ideal Home recommends the positivity candle from Espa or a luxury home room spray by Neom Organics.

Buy now: ESPA Positivity Candle, £35, John Lewis & Partners

11. Move to a motivational playlist

blue wall with radio and table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Claire Richardson)

Eye of the Tiger! There's nothing quite like the right track to motivate while working out. And that goes for all kinds of exercise. Yoga wouldn't be as mindful without an accompanying calming soundtrack.

So whatever the form of physical activity you're favouring, do it to your favourite tunes. 'Training and sweating to your favourite tunes is only going to improve your mood and put a spring in your step for the rest of the day,' says Annie.

12. Reroute your routine

'Don’t be too far away from your router,' Annie points out.  'If you’ve signed up to a Zoom class you’ll need decent internet (or an ethernet cable plugged into your laptop). If you’re content with pre-recorded workouts, and you can stomach peering at your phone, then anywhere is cool.'

Annie Deadman is a fitness coach, author, creator of The 21 Day BLAST Plan  and health and fitness columnist.

Get more from your home:  5 simple ways to improve gardens during lockdown – without spending a penny!

While it's important to keep fit, it's even more important to do so safely.  Experts warn that extreme DIY solutions, homemade concrete weights for example, could lead to serious injuries. Take care, however you seek to stay fit from the comfort of home.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.