You are (very) overweight and want to do some cardio at home that doesn’t cost a fortune? Here are four methods: from totally free to fairly affordable.
You And Jumping
Let me start with the bad news: the indoor cardio methods I recently featured won’t work for you if you are overweight or obese.
In your knee joint, for example, the cartilage that buffers the thigh bone from directly crunching on the lower leg’s bone already has to work against all your upper body’s weight. If you now start jumping, it can well send it over the edge.
The good news is: we can still safely get you huffing and puffing and you won’t have to get out the big dollar bills.
Completely Free: A Bottom Step
Let’s start with the cheapest form of cardio you can do: the bottom step of a staircase. If you have trouble keeping your balance, it should have a banister you can hold on to.
You step up with your left foot, let the right follow, then step back with the left and again let the right follow.
If you live in an apartment and don’t have any stairs around, an alternative is using a flat object approximately 4 to 5 inches high, wide enough to comfortably stand on, and, very important, able to bear your weight. There is equipment specifically made for this purpose, but you of course have to buy it:
The Circuit Step, for example, is adjustable between 4 to 8 inches and has a maximum capacity of 275 lbs. Amazon sells it for $51.
Once more, no matter if you use a home object or “real” equipment like the Circuit Step: if you have trouble with balance, put it close to something you can hold on to.
Safest For The Knees: Indoor Cycles
If you already have trouble with your knees, we have to minimize stress for them further. The safe route here are indoor cycles – basically two pedals you can use while sitting on a chair or couch. With these, most of your weight will be carried by what you are sitting on:
Pictured here is the Stamina 15-0120 InStride Cycle XL. Coming in at $36 it in my opinion provides the best balance between cost and benefit.
Some users complain about it getting hot or starting to screech, but that may be due to them really maxing it out. The little thing is just not designed to give reasonably fit people a good cardio workout. It is in my opinion for those who have a weight problem and don’t need much to get their heart beat up.
If you want to go the safe route and have more money to spend, you can go for a motorized unit like the Exerpeutic Motorized Mini ACTIVCycle:
For $88 it offers smooth running with a more precise difficulty setting and also displays speed, time and calories burnt.
More Pushing: A Stepper
If you can’t or don’t want to use a staircase, yet feel a little more adventurous and have no problems with balance, a stepper could work for you. These mimic the motion of stepping (hence the name), but the movement is more dynamic – all limbs remain in action. In a way they are mini elliptical machines.
From all the steppers I looked at, the pictured Sunny Health & Fitness to me seems the most trustworthy, offering a heavy-duty steel construction, adjustable resistance and usability for people up to 250 lbs. At $52 it however isn’t the cheapest.
How Often And How Long?
As I explained here, any activity that gets your heart rate to about 50 – 75% of the maximum can be classified as cardio. If you carry a lot of weight, it likely won’t take a lot to get you there, because of all the tremendous work your body already has to do.
This is why three things are very important for you:
- start with short sessions; at the beginning, three times per week for 10 minutes each can already suffice
- up the difficulty slowly; adding 5 minutes to the sessions every month can be enough
- really, really, really get your doctor’s ok before pushing your already stressed body into these
Don’t Forget Your Eating Habits
Last but not least I also have to mention that none of these will magically make you lose weight. A bit of exercise on the stairs or with these gadgets can help on the way, but you can easily outeat them all. Only these little bits of fitness and getting a grip on your eating habits will do the trick. For the latter I have an explanation and some tips right here.