It’s vital to keep your mind and body healthy in the battle against Covid-19, and that means you need a workout routine to keep you fit, while being fun at the same time.
The coronavirus pandemic is causing disruption to our fitness routines all over the world; gyms and yoga studios have been forced to shut their doors, and many of us have been confined to our homes for weeks.
But that doesn’t mean you should stop working out. It actually means that engaging in some kind of physical activity is more important than ever.
Apart from working in Blexr’s PR team, I’m a part-time fitness instructor and I’ve spent some of my staff wellness benefit on professional courses to keep up my knowledge – so I’ve definitely found that staying healthy is #betterwithblexr
So here are six effective ways of keeping active without leaving the comfort of your own home. All you need is a rocking playlist and a timer which you’ll find on your phone or stopwatch.
And don’t forget, drinking lots of water is the best thing you can do for your body. Make sure to hydrate before and after your workouts.
Warm it up
Before you start, you’ve got to prepare your body for what’s to come. We do this by warming up through dynamic moves and stretching through a range of motion.
You don’t ever want to start moving abruptly. The aim is to slowly increase your heart and breathing rates, and to activate the muscles you’ll be using which will help prevent the risk of injury.
Here’s a dynamic warm-up you can use before any workout.
Get that heart rate up
Once you’re ready for the action, it’s time to get the heart rate up.
If you have access to a staircase, you can run, jump or walk up and down the stairs for about five minutes to increase your heartrate. You could also run on the spot if you don’t have access to any stairs. This is the pulse-raiser part.
Together, the warm-up and pulse raiser should last about 10-15 minutes in total. Here are some other exercises you can do to start working up a sweat. Choose four and do each exercise for 30 seconds, three times round without rest if possible.
The most important thing is that you keep moving throughout your workout and if at any point the exercises get too much for you, just take it down to a jog or march on the spot.
You want to keep your heart rate up and not sit down or stop abruptly while you’re exercising, otherwise you could risk blood pooling in the legs.
Get strong and toned
Bodyweight training is great, but to build strength and tone you need weights. Adding resistance to your training is essential for healthy, strong bones.
And here’s an added bonus, it also burns more calories!
If you don’t have dumbbells at home, get creative and use anything heavy like bottles or a pack of water, or even a backpack filled with books, bottles or cans.
Heavy-lifters can use an empty gas cylinder, or a large 19-litre water container filled with water with exercises like squats, deadlifts and rows to keep up those gains.
These are my favourite strength exercises for a full-body workout. They’re compound moves, meaning they target several muscles at the same time which will get your heart rate up for a cardio effect.
Do each one for 30-45 seconds, or even one minute, with 10-15 seconds rest in between each exercise and repeat for three to four rounds. Rest for one minute between each circuit.
You can increase your rest time to 20 seconds between each exercise and two minutes between circuits if you’re new to working out.
Strengthen your core
Your core is a major muscle group in the body – I’m referring to the abdominals, lower back, pelvic floor muscles and diaphragm, which make up your entire support system and are crucial in every move you make, from picking up something off the floor to getting out of bed in the morning.
Weak core muscles contribute to poor posture, lower back pain and injuries in other parts of the body like shoulders, hips and knees. It’s extremely important to work these muscles if you’re sitting for prolonged periods of time and slouching over a desk all day.
A strong core will help you keep a more upright and erect posture at your desk, prevent injury and perform better in your workouts.
I like to end with core work, but the truth is you can throw these exercises in anywhere. Do each move for 30-45 seconds and repeat for three to four rounds to feel the burn.
Pro tip: You should engage your core in every exercise you do, even when picking up and dropping down your weights. This means pulling your abdominal muscles into your navel which will help protect your spine.
Stretch it out
Stretching after exercise is arguably the most important part of your routine. It keeps your muscles flexible, strong and healthy. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight which can lead to injury.
Stretching after training will also prevent muscle soreness the day after and improve overall flexibility. These stretches are different to the ones done in your warm-up as we stop moving so much and hold the pose for longer.
But before you move into your static stretch, make sure you bring the heart down by marching on the spot, walking around the room or stepping side-to-side at a slow and easy pace for about three to ten minutes, depending on the intensity of your workout. This is the cool-down phase.
These are the best stretches you can do following exercise. You should hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds and avoid bouncing in each pose as you could pull a muscle.
Pro tip: Make sure you don’t hold your breath when you’re stretching and allow yourself to sink deeper into the pose as you exhale.
Take a break
After all that hard work, fitting in rest days into your workout schedule is just as necessary as the training itself. Over-training can have the opposite effect on your body and health, and cause fatigue and immune deficiency.
But a rest day doesn’t mean laying on the couch all day binging on Netflix. You should still keep active and do some light exercise like go for a hike somewhere, go for a walk, work on your mobility and flexibility, or take an online yoga class.
The body is your temple, and nutrition plays a big part in staying healthy. You need to fuel your body with the right food and enough protein to help you recover faster and repair your muscle tissue.