Staying at home and following the quarantining rules are important. Very important. But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to let ourselves get fat. If you’re a fitness freak who’s struggling to get adjusted to this new life or if you’re someone who suddenly has more time and don’t know how to exercise, look no further. We have your back.
Fair warning, though, exercise and proper nutrition won’t prevent you from catching the coronavirus if you touch your face after being exposed to an infected person’s droplets.
Why is exercise important now more than ever?
Dr. Russell G. Buhr, a pulmonologist at U.C.L.A. Health says that maintaining a routine, like getting up and getting dressed and doing what you usually do, can positively affect mental health. He says, “Trying to preserve some sense of normalcy is really important for people’s well-being. And good mental health promotes good physical health.”
Most of the time, fancy equipment is unnecessary. You don’t even need to spend a lot of time. You just need to be able to weave exercise into your schedule. Dani Johnson, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, encourages people who are staying home to get creative. “Every little bit of movement counts,” she says. “So when we’re confined to our home, move, move, move.”
Personal trainer Keris Hopkins says something similar. She says, “There are tons of things you can do from your chair or sofa — squats, tricep dips, crunches, bodywork exercises and so on.”
She further states, “With kids, make activities fun, like running around or playing hide and seek. Just keep moving.”
The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association have both recommended working out. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. A combination of both would be even better.
Here are a few things you can do every day to maintain your physical and mental health if you’re isolating at home.
Bring movement into your moments
You can do simple things that will quickly add up. Do heel raises when you’re washing dishes. Do side lunges when you’re throwing clothes in the dryer. Destroy some push-ups when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. Do some squats while watching Netflix or TV. Another great way is to just dance. Turn on some music and get dancing, either alone or with family. If you have kids, you could even play games with them. Dani Johnson rightly says, “If you have stuff in your house and you have a body, you’ve got a great exercise tool.”
Stairs are your best friend
It’s important to get your heart rate up multiple times a day. Ms. Johnson says, “Stairs can be your cardiovascular best friend. Every little bit counts toward a healthier you.”
Just going up and down the stairs, multiple times a day is a good way to get your heart rate pumping. You can even do an entire circuit sequence for 30-45 minutes if you’re interested in a full-body workout. Add more activity while doing things you already need to get done. For example, if you’re carrying laundry upstairs, take an extra lap or two up and down the stairs to add in extra steps.
Youtube is your new trainer
Exercises that work out more than one muscle group at a time are the best. Squats, lunges, push-ups, planks, and dips are all great exercises. You can even alternate upper body and lower body workouts. Stomach, or abs, exercises can be done daily because these muscles don’t need as long a recovery time.
You can find all of these exercises and their tutorials on Youtube. Make sure to gather workout clips that cover the whole body: upper body workouts, lower body, abs, butt, cardio, strength, yoga, balance, flexibility, and stretching.
Here’s a really good example:
Take note of your breathing
Breathing properly while working out is very important. Even when not working out, keeping a mental note of your breathing will help with anxiety. Ms. Johnson recommends a technique called diaphragmatic breathing. In this, you lie down on your back and place your hands on your abdominal region. Breathe in and make your belly rise. Breathe out and let your belly fall. While staying in position, repeat this 10 times.
Talking about this, Ms. Johnson says, “It’s really important that we take a few moments and pause and really just sort of relax ourselves and our nervous system.”
Finally, maintain hygiene
Be sure to clean up after each workout routine. Yes, you are home, but, you still need to observe the same kind of hygiene practices that health officials are advising. Wash your hands carefully and try not to touch your face. If you need to touch your face, use a clean towel. Also, if you’re using gym equipment at home, clean it with soap and water. Make sure that you’re not spreading germs around to your family members or your roommates.