A lot of people believe that to lead a good and long life, one must regularly exercise stay strong and fit, and also eat clean. Let’s take Japan for example. Japan ranks as one of the healthiest countries in the world with a high life expectancy rate and it’s no coincidence. The Japanese follow a proper traditional diet by consuming steamed nutritious food and take exercise very seriously.
“The body achieves what the mind believes”Anonymous
However, it’s easier said than done. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s important we put in conscious and persistent efforts, especially during a time like this. This global pandemic has made us realise the importance of health, both physical and mental. Except for a few essential service workers, everyone is home with their families and there’s only so many times we can attend work-related calls or play ludo with our family. To step out even for a run, let alone hitting the gym is a dream for many. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be a reason we put our physical fitness on hold because even the WHO has advised us to stay physically active during the lockdown. Here’s our simple guide on how you can exercise at home during the lockdown.
Why is physical fitness important?
Exercise increases the supply of blood and nutrients within the body. Our body releases happy hormones known as endorphins which are needed during a crisis like this. Sufficient exercise also increases our strength and overall immunity and this can help us not contract communicable and non-communicable illnesses. These few reasons in themselves were enough for me to exercise to stay fit and strong.
In my experience, one must know that it’s more important to feel healthy than to just look all ripped and buff. Now I live with my parents and it’s a bit of a task when it comes to keeping them physically fit. They do attempt some basic warm-up exercises but with a lot of reluctance. When it comes to me, I’ve always had a lean body type with a high metabolic rate but honestly, it never worked in my favour until recently.
I started hitting the gym in early 2020 and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Having put on a few healthy kilograms I felt like I could do better, but then the lockdown happened and all gyms were shut. I decided to take things seriously and started working out at home, like a lot of people. Now I exercise at home every alternate day for about 30 minutes with proper intakes of food. It has taken me months to identify what works for the body and what doesn’t, both in terms of exercises and diet and I have no complaints. However, we shouldn’t be pushing ourselves too hard as it can lead to exhaustion and injuries.
Here are some ways you can exercise at home to stay fit and strong?
Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for people who may not want to lift heavyweights. This exercise is known to increase flexibility, core strength, blood circulation and is best at reducing stress. People who practice yoga also follow guided mediation for better results. There are asanas like Suryanamaskar (sun salutation), Viparita Karani (leg-up-the-wall), Uttanasana (standing forward bend pose) that one can practice and benefit from.
Meditation can help in keeping the mind strong during the lockdown. It gets more challenging to cope with anything with days on end spent indoors. Attempting to meditate for someone who has never tried it before can be difficult but not impossible. You can check out this easy guide to meditate. This, in my experience, is one of the best exercises after a cooldown, and it is the easiest way to end a routine when you exercise at home.
Weights and resistance bands
Some people might prefer workout with weights and resistance bands as it suits them. There are several online fitness and YouTube videos that can be helpful, especially for beginners. Since I am someone who uses ankle weights and dumbbells let me share a few of my favourite workouts that can be done in the comfort of your home.
1. Jumping Jacks:
This a total body workout that will focus on your heart, lungs and muscles at the same time. It works on the glutes, quadriceps and hip flexors. Jumping with your arms and legs spread wide is a very good alternative to a treadmill or stationary bike. Beginners are advised to perform a set of 10 jumping jacks. Gradually this can be increased to a maximum of 25 with time and experience.
This is one of the best exercises to build the lower body and to increase leg power. It’s a compound exercise which means it works on several muscle groups simultaneously and it helps to build strength for everyday living. It is advised to do 3 sets of 5 squats initially with a gradual increase to a maximum of 15 squats in each set. Beginners can start with air squats or even mini squats. One should try it under the supervision of a trainer or a friend/family member with enough experience in the field of fitness.
Planking is the best abdominal and core exercise. Core strength is a must for all coordinated and powerful athletic movements. With your elbows directly under your shoulder and your forearms and toes to the floor, this strength-building exercise will help you achieve a better posture. If done regularly, planks will help reduce backaches and improve your metabolism. Beginners can do a 15-second plank and slowly increase the time to a maximum of 60 seconds.
4. Glute Bridge:
This workout is the best for anyone who wants to strengthen their spine while working on their glute (butt). When done properly this exercise will help in shaping your glute while reducing chronic back problems. You should feel the burn in your glutes and your hamstrings if you’re doing it right. This exercise will improve your overall strength. You can start with 5 glute bridges of 10 seconds each and increase it with time
5. Abdominal Crunches:
This is an excellent workout to keep control of belly fat and strengthen the core muscle. A strong back and abs are necessary for all your daily activities. Crunches can be part of both a core strength workout or a total body workout. It is best to start with 5 reps in each set and a total of 3 sets. Avoid pulling on your neck as it only increases the stain.
Here’s how to Further boost Exercise at Home
These were just a few basic exercises one can try at home with almost no equipment. There are plenty of other fat burning and muscle building exercises that can be tried, however, it is always better to be assisted by a trainer when attempting a new form of workout. Exercise alone will not create magic. Proper diet and sleep routines are equally important for a healthy body and mind. This doesn’t mean we only eat salads, instead, we can have our favourite meals made at home with healthier alternatives. We can try baked chips instead of fried, fruit smoothies instead of ice creams and milkshakes, oat or flax bread instead of white bread and the list is endless.
Working on better physical and mental health is not easy and everyone is allowed to take their own time to get it on track and it is also alright to start all over. However, one must consult their doctors or trainers just to be safe.
Exercise at home is actually great if you feel shy to go to the gym or outside. You can exercise at home confidently, not be conscious and give the exercise routine your 100%. As a bonus, you will also feel great once you get into your exercise rhythm.
The only motivation that I would offer is that be determined and take it slow, rest all will fall into place.
This piece is written by Anushka Ramchander is an eager-to-learn, young adult. She is an Arts student, a psychology enthusiast, and loves dogs. You can follow her on Instagram @anu_ramchander.