10 Common Household Items To Use for Exercise

At-home learning has required our Physical Education community to get creative with fitness and encourage students to stay active during school closures. One challenge we are all presented with during these times is the ability to provide fitness equipment to our students.

Access to our commonly used classroom equipment is temporarily on hold, but the good news is there are plenty of ways students can still be active simply using common household items. If you are looking for ways for your students to exercise at home, try recommending these 10 household items as a way to stay active.

1. Milk Jugs

Instead of recycling, students can fill these with water and use almost like a kettlebell. One full gallon weighs about 8-1/2 lb, which could lead to a great muscular strength workout for the upper body.

2. Couch

Yes, possibly the most comfortable place to relax in one’s home can be used for fitness. This piece of furniture can be used for triceps dips, elevated push-ups (feet on couch), and other weight bearing exercises. Encourage students to focus on these exercises during commercials.

3. Chairs

Not sure if your squat technique is correct? Try placing a chair behind you as guidance. As the body comes down to a near 90° angle, the feeling should be that you’re in a sitting position. Don’t sit down entirely, stop and begin your upward movement once you feel slight contact with the seat below you.

4. Board Game Supplies

Raid the game closet and look for items that can be used for exercise. This can include dice, playing cards, and play dollars. Monopoly money is a great example of a way students can track their exercise repetitions.

5. Towels

These can work on any wood or tiled floor and be used for core exercised or even a yoga mat. Place the towels under your hands or feet to increase the challenge of core exercises like mountain climbers. Have your students kick it up a notch by having them perform a seal walk by having them walk down a hallway using just only their arms (feet relaxed on towel).

6. Backpack

This serves as a perfect weighted vest. Students can fill their bags with bottled or canned foods and choose a weight that is challenging, yet achievable. Using weighted vests is great for building cardio endurance. This equipment could be utilized during family walks around the neighborhood.

7. Tape Measure

This or any measuring tool within the household can be used to track progress with exercises such as a standing long jump. Tape measures can also be used to create dimensions for game areas and lengths of fitness assessments like the PACER (20m/65’).

8. Box

Flip over and use as a plyometrics box. It’s important to test its durability by making sure it can withstand a weight bearing impact. Don’t worry if you cannot find a box that will work for these jumping exercises. Look for any safe platform to jump on. If you have a partner, that person can hold equipment like a chair in place for the jumper. And if your students want to practice box jumps or steps ups outside, have them look for any tree stump that has a large enough landing or stepping surface.

9. Couch Cushion

Remember to take your shoes off first. Just like a Bosu, a cushion can be used as a base of support to perform many balancing activities. The uneven surface of the cushion will challenge the body to stabilize more muscles in the balancing process.

10. Tarp

Works great to absorb the force of any throw or strike. Find a safe area to hang a tarp, or any other durable netting, and swing away. Grab a disc, baseball, soccer ball, and even a golf club. Important, test the durability of the tarp and secure it properly before using. One wouldn’t want to replace a neighbor’s window because their mammoth golf drive couldn’t be contained.

My Challenge for You

These are just some items that can support at-home learning. There is plenty more common household equipment that can be used to exercise. Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to find ways to give your students a scavenger hunt around their house and use what’s available to them to remain active.

If you have ideas to support students with at-home fitness, I encourage you to reach out and share your ideas with the Physical Education community. Take care of yourself during these times, stay in good health, we will get through this together.

Derek is a Washington State-based NBCT Physical Educator looking to leave a lasting impression in the Physical Education community through meaningful collaboration, advocacy, and teamwork. He taught elementary PE for more than a decade and now currently serves all 32 schools in the Highline School District as the PreK-12 Health and Physical Education Coordinator. A Seattle native, Derek’s credentials include a bachelors and masters in Physical Education from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. He serves alongside other physical educators on his state’s Health and PE cadre. Derek shows his growing passion for teaching leadership and advocacy in Physical Education as a workshop presenter for SHAPE Washington and SHAPE America. He also shares his PE philosophy with educators across the globe as a monthly blogger through the Puget Sound Educational Service District and Ready Washington. Outside of PE, Derek enjoys spending time with his family of 3, running outdoors, and swinging the golf clubs searching for that illusive hole-in-one. See what Derek is doing on Twitter: @PhysEdDerek

Derek is a Washington State-based NBCT Physical Educator looking to leave a lasting impression in the Physical Education community through meaningful collaboration, advocacy, and teamwork. He taught elementary PE for more than a decade and now currently serves all 32 schools in the Highline School District as the PreK-12 Health and Physical Education Coordinator. A Seattle native, Derek’s credentials include a bachelors and masters in Physical Education from Western Washington University and Central Washington University, respectively. He serves alongside other physical educators on his state’s Health and PE cadre. Derek shows his growing passion for teaching leadership and advocacy in Physical Education as a workshop presenter for SHAPE Washington and SHAPE America. He also shares his PE philosophy with educators across the globe as a monthly blogger through the Puget Sound Educational Service District and Ready Washington. Outside of PE, Derek enjoys spending time with his family of 3, running outdoors, and swinging the golf clubs searching for that illusive hole-in-one. See what Derek is doing on Twitter: @PhysEdDerek

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