In a pandemic such as the current situation with the Covid-19 when this article was written, Governments all over the world will implement measures such as LOA (Leave Of Absence) and SHN (Stay Home Notice) to contain the spread of the virus. Even if we are not issued with these directives, it is advisable to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the risk of getting contaminated ourselves. With gyms and many other public places closed and events cancelled, we are left with not much choice but to stay at home.
But does that necessarily mean we cannot do any exercises or workouts? Whether we were training for a marathon (which will most likely be cancelled) or enjoy working out at the gym (which has been closed until further notice), it can be tough to think of putting your usual routine on hold.
Even if you are not that sporty or exercise type, you may hate the idea of staying at home while not being active. Everyone, whether we like it or not, must do some kinds of physical activity. Exercise is vital for our mental and physical health, and is arguably more important than ever during these periods of self-isolation.
So now the question is, is it possible to maintain our fitness and do workouts while being confined at home? Of course you can! This is particularly true with intense workouts that tend to work better for fat loss and muscle growth. With kettlebells or a set of dumbbells, you can do enough strength training to maintain and build lean muscles away from the gym. For those who have the money and the space, it’s possible to set up a small home gym with only a few key pieces of equipment.
Static exercises is the only option you have when you are confined to your home for very obvious reasons. But believe it or not, it is one of the most effective workouts. Static exercises can include a mix of body-weight exercises and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Body-weight HIIT workouts are relatively short and don’t take up much space. Best of all, they don’t require any equipment. If you like, you can use objects which are readily available in your home such as bricks or sand bags as weights.
Body-weight exercises use your body weight as resistance to give you a challenging workout, which can improve your fitness levels, endurance and strength. It can also improve your balance, flexibility and coordination, engaging and targeting all of the important muscle groups with just a few exercises like squats, planks and burpees.
There are many suitable workouts available online. One such example is this as proposed by Bright Side. It describes exercises which you can simply do at home using simple everyday objects such as chairs and poles as tools for your exercises.
Static exercises are a great way to maintain fitness which do not require much space. Intensive static exercises such as hill sprints, jump squats, burpees, skipping or fast push-ups will get you sweating in no time at all.
If you live in an apartment, you may want to consider low-impact exercises to avoid disturbing your neighbours as much as possible. Low-impact exercises can be further categorized into closed kinetic chain exercises and open kinetic chain exercises. As defined in Wikipedia, closed kinetic chain (CKC) exercises “are often compound movements that generally incur compressive forces while open kinetic chain exercises (OKC) are often isolation movements that promote more shearing forces”. To put simply, CKC are exercises which your hands and feet are fixed to a stationary object such as floors or walls. Examples of these exercises are :
These concentrate on a co-contraction of the triceps, brachii, biceps brachii, deltoids, pectoralis major and minor and lower back for stabilisation in various ratios depending upon the angle and leverage.
On the other hand, with OKC exercises, your hands and feet are not fixed to any object and are free to move. The biggest advantage of OKC exercises is that they can isolate a muscle. Such exercises include:
According to Physiopedia, CKC exercises are more popular among therapists than OKC exercises as they believe that CKC exercises are more reliable and functional. They are “more effective than OKC exercises at regaining mobility and enabling a quicker return to daily and sporting activities.” Check out Physiopedia for more detailed information about CKC and OKC.
Yoga exercises are another good option which you can do indoors. Yoga doesn’t have to be hard. Yoga introduces a mindfulness to stretching so that you focus on your alignment and how the positions really feel in your body. You may be familiar with many basic yoga postures even if it’s been a few years since your last gym session. With the advent of the internet, you should be able to access a plethora of videos on yoga, fitness routines and meditations to get you started. If you don’t have a yoga mat yet, here are some good yoga mats at reasonable prices.
If you’re feeling sad about having to miss your usual class, it’s worth checking in with your favourite teacher or studio, to see if they’re continuing their scheduling online. The idea is to maintain connection and community during this time of social distancing.
What about running or jogging? That’s quite a tricky question when you are confined in your house. Many would like to run or jog to supplement the workouts mentioned above. Obviously, if you already have a treadmill or an exercise bike, that would not be a problem at all for you. You can continue to do what you do with them before the pandemic. But even then, you need to compliment your static jogging or cycling with static exercises as mentioned above to move all your muscles in your body and give that wholesome well being.
If you have the luxury of space in your house that is not cluttered with furniture, jogging in the house is not impossible. Yes it can be boring running in circles around the house but so is jogging on a treadmill. You can spice it up with workout music plugged into your ears.
If you live in a high rise residential building, you already have one of the best exercise equipment right at your doorstep – the staircase. This is something that most people fail to see. The best thing is, it’s free (included in the purchase of your apartment unit) and you don’t need to step out of the building! You don’t need to be a member of an expensive fitness club to keep fit and stay healthy. Often staircases are underused as people tend to use the lifts – even if they are going just one floor above or below! So why not make the best use of the staircase by running up and down the stairs as part of your exercise program.
It is difficult to keep track of your jogging performance such as distance and speed if you jog round and round in circles in your house or up and down the stairs. So it is always good to equip yourself with a good fitness tracker. You can get a fitness tracker here if you don’t have one yet.
It is to be understood that staying at home for several days or weeks without stepping a foot out of your doorstep can be very intimidating and depressing. But look at it this way. In a pandemic situation, would you prefer to stay at home, stay in hospital or stay in a photo frame? Staying in the comfort of your home is still so much better than in the four walls of a prison. At least you have a home to stay. There are many people out there who have no homes.
Setting goals plays an important role in our lives. This is also true for exercises to keep ourselves fit. Finding motivation to train or stick with exercise on a regular basis isn’t always easy. Demanding work schedules, caring for the kids, burn-out and other aspects in our lives are just a few things that may interrupt our fitness routine. The following approach is a simple technique that provides structure for your training program:
Goal setting is an art as well as a science. If you follow the above formula, you are more likely to stay on track to achieve your goals.
If you have been working out for years and maintaining your fitness, do not let pandemics or other factors that force you to stay at home lose your fitness. If you follow the guidelines as mentioned above, you should be able to stay fit even if you have not set a single foot out of your home.
For muscle maintenance, you need to stimulate a muscle group at least every 72 hours. You muscles need to be subjected to at least a similar resistance as the resistance that got them fit in the first place.
To maintain aerobic capacity and cardiovascular fitness, compete one long slow cardio workout and 2 high-intensity interval workouts each week. The former should be about 60 minutes while the latter about 30 minutes.
To maintain your flexibility, stretch warm muscles for about 5 minutes each day, focusing specifically on tight body parts. A perfect time for this is immediately following a cardio or weight training workout.
It takes about 7 to 14 days for your fitness to start deteriorating. So if you think that you can take a break during a pandemic, you are making a big mistake.
Positive thinking does not mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. On the contrary, it means that you approach head-on the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst
Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.
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