Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the government has asked all gyms and fitness studios to close and advised us all to stay at home as much as possible. This has meant we have to be a bit more creative when it comes to working out and staying active. If you’re feeling well then home workouts can be a great way to keep the blood flowing during self-isolation.
There are so many benefits of exercising including reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, osteoarthritis, hip fractures and falls among older adults (NHS, 2020). Exercise has also been seen to improve mental health by improving your sleep, help you to manage stress, improve self-esteem and boost your mood (mind.org.uk, 2019).
But it is vital to remember to be kind to yourself. There will be days when you aren’t as active as you hoped but remember it is okay to slow down or take a break.
Planning Your Exercise at Home
There are three aspects to exercise which you should try to incorporate in your workouts:
1.Cardiovascular exercises (cardio) such as walking, running, dancing, cycling or playing football
2.Strength training such as lifting weights or bodyweight training
3.Mobility such as practising yoga, Pilates or your own mobility routine
The NHS advises us to aim to be physically active every day, to do strengthening activities at least 2 days a week, do either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week and reduce time spent sitting or lying down (NHS, 2020). Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, make you breathe quicker and feel warmer. You will be able to hold a conversation. Whereas vigorous exercise will make you breathe hard and fast and you will struggle to hold a conversation.
So, what would this look like in a week?
Day 1: Strength training (full body)
Day 2: 25 minutes cardio
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: 25 minutes cardio
Day 5: Strength training (full body)
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: 25 minutes cardio
Strength training improves muscle mass, increases bone density, improves joint flexibility and can improve balance. To improve your strength, you can use your body weight as resistance or if you have access to dumbbells or kettlebells at home you can use those. If bodyweight isn’t tough enough but you’re lacking equipment, try soup cans, textbooks or filled water bottles as makeshift weights. Some exercises which work well at home are goblet squats, hip thrusts, any type of lunge, push-ups, pull-ups (if you have a pull-up bar), planks and most ab exercises.
If you or anyone you live with does not have symptoms of COVID-19 and you’re not considered ‘at-risk’ your cardiovascular exercise could be walking, jogging, running or cycling outside, as long as you remember to stay 2-meters from anyone else and there is a maximum of two of you. Remember, dancing, running up and down the stairs and even cleaning and gardening count as cardiovascular exercise and can be done from the comfort of your own home.
If you want to get your heart pumping at home, why not try a cardio circuit? There are plenty of YouTube videos to guide you online or try this simple circuit:
1. Jumping jacks
2. Bodyweight squats
3. High knees
4. Alternating lunges
Try each exercise for 30 seconds, taking a 30-second break in-between exercises and a 90-second rest at the end of each circuit. Repeat 4 times for a 24-minute workout that can be completed in your own home.
Mobility is the body’s ability to move freely without stress. Mobility reduces the risk of injury, increases joint health and reduces joint pain. Incorporate mobility into your routine by doing a quick round of active stretching or static stretches before and/or after a workout or follow a yoga or Pilates routine on YouTube or Instagram.
This post was written by Alex Williams, who is a certified personal trainer, specialising in a health-first approach to fitness. She is currently completing her MSc in Nutrition, and set to become an Associate Registered Nutritionist by the end of the year. With a passion for evidence-based exercise and nutrition advice, Alex creates content for various brands and her own Instagram @thecollectivewellness.
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