With the World Health Organisation recommending that we avoid contact with others, our normal fitness regimes are going to have to change, but it is possible to keep fit without leaving the house…
Who didn’t feel a momentary thrill at hearing that gyms were closing? The ultimate excuse! But, as the dust begins to settle, you soon start to realise how essential keeping your body active really is. Our bodies were simply made to move, to expend energy and to keep blood flowing. The benefits to both physical and mental health are well documented, it is consistently proven that people who exercise on a regular basis have higher energy than those who don’t, they sleep better, are more relaxed and focused and have an increased sense of wellbeing. They also have a stronger immune system than those who do not exercise, something obviously important in the current climate.
If you’re used to working out regularly then finding a way to keep your body moving is key for your wellbeing, aerobic power can decline about 5-10% in just three weeks, however extremely fit exercisers will experience a rapid drop in fitness during the first three weeks of inactivity. Although serious gym bunnies might be horrified by the thought of the temporary shutting down of health facilities, perhaps this can be looked upon as an opportunity to shake up your normal routine, if you do a Crossfit class perhaps now is the chance to try yoga at home? If you usually swim, then maybe you can swap the pool for circuit training in the garden. Your body gets used to exercise quickly so it’s important to keep challenging yourself with new things.
And if you’re not a regular exerciser, the lack of commute and diminished diary commitments might just the excuse you need to get started!
Here, we have listed five ways to exercise without leaving your property.
Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and muscle strength, this is especially useful for anyone who usually sits at a desk all day or usually sticks to running or weight training. With regular practice you might notice aches and pains disappearing as you start to stretch out stiff muscles and breath into areas of tightness in the body. Yoga has also been proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol, and with a focus on breath work and being present, it can also help with anxiety.
Try this at home: There are lots of great yoga videos online but we love YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene – easy, step-by-step instructions delivered in a calm, enjoyable way (look out for cameos from her dog Benji).
What you’ll need: the only equipment you need is some comfortable clothes and a yoga mat (we love the Reversible Mat by Lululemon).
This is a great way to keep your cardio up during the time of isolation, and you can easily change the exercises each time you do it to stop things getting repetitive. Just 30 mins, three times a week will make a huge difference to your fitness levels. If you can take it outside – in the garden or a quiet park – then it will save your floors and provide an added boost of Vitamin D.
Try this at home: Make a list of five different exercises – pick one from each line of the list below for a full workout – do each for one minute, when you finish all five, take a one-minute rest and then start again. Repeat the full set five times.
Minute One (Upper body) – push ups, shoulder press
Minute Two (Lower body) – Squats, lunges, step-ups
Minute Three (Core) – plank, v sit, bicycle crunches
Minute Four (Cardio) – skipping, jump squats, shuttle sprints
Minute Five (Full body) – Burpee, bear crawl, kettlebell thrusts
Minute Six – Rest. Then repeat four times.
What you’ll need: If you have dumbells or small weights you can incorporate these into your routine, hold weights during lunges or squats to increase the intensity. A skipping rope is worth investing in if you can.
A fun, high intensity, full body workout that will easily keep your fitness levels on track, just ten minutes of skipping is the equivalent of an eight-minute mile, and you can burn up to 1,600 calories an hour (although 20 minutes is plenty if you’re just starting out!).
Try this at home: think back to your school days, simply find a space big enough (take care to move anything that might get caught by a swinging rope – if you can go outside now is the time!)
What you’ll need: a skipping rope.
Resistance Band workout
Essentially a giant rubber band, a resistance band can add a lot of intensity to home workouts, replicating the effect of high-tech gym equipment (a band wrapped around your feet can become a rower, wrapped around a tree becomes a lat-pull machine…!), they are a great way to build and maintaining core strength. Best of all they take up no room in your house!
Try this at home: Pick a band that feels challenging (you can always swap up or down if it’s too easy/intense) select 3-5 exercises (we have some suggestions below but there are plenty of examples on YouTube), do each for 10-15 reps and repeat up to 5 times in total.
Side Plank – start in a high plank position with the band around your ankles. Then lift your top foot off the bottom one until it’s about hip width apart. Hold for 30 seconds, then return to the start. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 5 times on each leg.
Row – sit in a rowing position and wrap the band around the middle of your feet, reach forward and pull the band back with your hands so that you are sitting back (as if you are rowing). Repeat 15 times.
Lateral band side walk – Place the band around your lower legs (just above your ankles) and place feet shoulder width apart (you should feel tension on the band). Starting in a half-squat position step your right foot sideways, then move the left leg slightly in (keeping the band taut), you will effectively be walking slowly sideways). Walk to the end of the room or garden, then face the other way and return with the other leg moving forward.
Glute bridge – Wrap the band around your legs above your knees. Lie face up with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees. Then raise your hips until your shoulders, hips and knees align, while contracting your glutes. Repeat 15 times.
Standing biceps curl –Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with feet placed over the middle of the band. Hold the band in each hand, starting with your arms down at your sides. With palms facing in front of you, pull your arms toward your shoulders by bending at the elbow and then slowly lower back down. Repeat 15 times.
What you’ll need: a set of resistance bands.
And if it all still seems far less appealing than sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, then try the quick-and-early approach. Personal Trainer Shona Vertue, author of The Vertue Method (Yellow Kite, £18.99), says she always advises clients to ‘plan a mini 20-minute workout you can do, with minimal equipment. Restrict this to just every other day and do it first thing in the morning. Then the rest of the day will be all yours – the best feeling.’