How to keep fit during Coronavirus
With gyms still closed, you might be finding it difficult to keep fit. Here are some tips on how to stay fit at home.
Why is is important?
Being physically active helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol and can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It also helps maintain muscle mass and bone density, reducing the risk of developing sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (loss of bone density).
As well as the many physical health benefits, keeping fit and active helps our mental well being too. Being active helps lower stress hormones such as cortisol and promotes the release of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins. This is particularly important at a time when some of us are experiencing increased stress and anxiety due to lockdown and the coronavirus.
What can I do at home?
Even with restrictions easing, those who are used to their routine of going to the gym/run/cycle before work may still not be able to do this in the same way before. Also after a long period of lockdown you might find it difficult to get back into a routine of regular physical activity.
If you're finding it hard to get started then I recommend putting together a timetable for the week - this will help you plan activities to suit what you have on each day and also help you stick to a routine.
It's important to try and get a range of exercise in:
Cardio - remember the heart is a muscle so needs to keep fit as well. Cardio exercise could be a brisk walk, run, cycle, stair climbing, online classes, skipping, dancing.
Strengthening - Some of these exercises can be performed using weights or resistance bands, but if you don’t have access to them that's no excuse. Squats or sit-to-stands from a chair, push-ups, lunges or single-leg step-ups on stairs are all great options. Or make use of items in the house - for example a can of beans, or gradually filling up a water bottle are great alternatives to actual weights.
Core - core exercises are important to strengthen the muscles around your trunk such as your abdominals. Pilates is a great way to work on this or exercises such as bridging, sit ups and the plank.
Flexibility - this is just as important as the other types of exercise. If you have tight muscles then then you won't be able to exercise them to their full potential and be at more risk of injury. Yoga is a great way to achieve this or just add some stretches to your workout or daily routine will help.
If you're not sure on precise exercises you can be doing the NHS has some great 10 minute workouts to get you started.
What do I do?
I had been a member of a gym for several years but actually quit in January. Why? I discovered Les Mills on Demand. FYI I am not getting commissions for what I am about to write (although I probably should), this is just genuinely what I am doing now!
When I went to the gym I mostly went to classes and occasionally went for a swim. I've never been overly keen on the actual gym. The classes at my gym (and many others) are produced by a company called Les Mills.
Anyway Les Mills on Demand gives you acces to all of their classes including Body Combat (cardio martial arts workout), Body Balance (yoga, thai chi, pilates combo), Body Pump (strengthening/toning class), Barre (ballet fitness), spinning plus many more.
Obviously you need to have some room in order to do these workouts and for some of the classes you need equipment such as weights. However I have found it works so much better for me - I never get bored as there are so many to choose from, I can do them when I want (previously I would struggle fitting in specific classes around my clients), for as long as I want (most of them you can choose 30, 45 or 55 minutes which is really helpful on days you are tight for time) and it's so much cheaper then the gym (especially when you include the cost of time/petrol to get there and back).
However the main thing you need to thing about it what works for you, your lifestyle and your routine. The key thing to remember is just stay active. This doesn't have to mean doing specific sports or classes, it just means not being sedentary all day. Even just standing or walking while you're on the phone, or doing an extra few trips up and down the stairs can make all the difference.