Gym memberships work well for some fitness devotees, but many people purchase memberships and never end up getting their money’s worth. Some of the reasons why people stop going to gyms include boredom with the routine, feelings of intimidation around younger and fitter gym members, and a lack of desire to go out, especially in bad weather. Fortunately, joining a gym is not the only way to get fit. Many people are very successful exercising at home by following a balanced routine. A home workout should include the following five elements: a warm-up, some cardio exercise, some strength training, flexibility exercises, and a cool-down.

The warm-up loosens up the body and raises the heart rate a little bit, preparing the body for more strenuous exercise. The warm-up should be gentle and relatively slow. A slow-paced walk outdoors or on a treadmill can be very effective. Try to move all of the joints and do some very light stretching. This preparation can help you get more out of your workout and decrease your risk of injury.

Cardiovascular exercise strengthens the heart and lungs. Cardio exercise can include anything that gets your heart rate up, like a fast-paced walk on the treadmill, an aerobics video, or exercises like jumping rope or dancing. If your goal is weight loss, aim for 45 minutes of cardio five days per week. Check out for tips on purchasing exercise equipment to use at home.

Strength training can be done with free weights or body weight exercises. Some examples of the latter include planks and push-ups, pull-ups with an overhead bar, and sit-ups or crunches. Pilates exercises are especially good for strengthening your core, the complex muscle system that surrounds the torso.

Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for increasing flexibility. Incorporating yoga-based stretches and movements into a home workout will increase your ability to perform daily activities safely and confidently. Flexibility training becomes even more important as people age.

Every workout should conclude with a cool-down. A proper cool down should include several minutes of low-intensity movement to gradually lower the heart rate. It is also important to stretch the target muscles that were exercised, holding each stretch for at least 20 seconds.