When compared to the spectre of death and global economic collapse, having to take time off from the gym seems pretty low on the list of calamities caused by COVID 19 crisis, but exercise is especially important now, even when the logistics are more challenging because it boosts us physically and mentally. Physical activity also helps to keep your immune system working effectively as it flushes bacteria from the lungs and airways, increases white blood cell circulation and raises body temperature, all of which help the body fight infection.
As well as the physical health benefits, keeping active is a great way to ward off some of the psychological issues associated with being cooped up for an extended time.
Being active helps lower stress hormones such as cortisol and promotes the release of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins.
With self-isolation and working from home now a global reality, I’ve come to realise how much I took going to the gym for granted pre-Coronavirus and for me, one of the hardest things about the lockdown is definitely the fact that I can’t go to the gym.
Gyms across the country, my own included have shut their doors, some under orders from officials and others as a preventative response to the virus.
The good news is that it doesn’t mean stopping activity and I’m using this time to get fitter and stronger than ever, albeit while adapting my workout so that it can be done from home.
The simplest way to work out at home is to use your own body. There are a variety of effective bodyweight exercises on YouTube that can help you build strength, endurance and burn calories. And by circuit training (going from one exercise to the next, without little or no rest), you keep your heart rate up, burn more calories and get the most out of your exercise time.
Body-weight HIIT workouts are relatively short and don’t take up much space. Best of all, they don’t require any equipment. To add some variation to my body weight workouts I have also invested in a set of resistance bands. Training at home doesn’t have to be expensive. A set of 4 resistance bands have cost me a grand total of £26.00. I had previously seen people in the gym using resistance bands, but personally I had always opted for the weights. Much to my surprise, I have found that using resistance bands is on par with lifting weights in terms of effectiveness. From glute bridges to lateral band walks and squats, there are so many exercises you can do with them. Using resistance bands, you can recreate an almost complete copy of your gym workouts at home. Using resistance bands for a strength-training routine will:
1. Increase physical strength and lean muscle mass
2. Enhance posture
3. Increase circulation
4. Decrease risk of diseases
5. Improve balance
6.Increase bone strength and health
7. Improve your mental health and mood
8. Improve your ability to do other activities
Most mornings I am feeling motivated to do my daily 40 minute body weight and resistance band routine, but even with the best of intentions, some days I find my motivation flagging.
For this reason, it’s important to set goals, big and small, an to schedule your workouts and keep track of your progress.
It’s helpful to record the level of resistance you use, how many repetitions of an exercise you do and how many sets of exercises you complete to determine when you need to change up your routine.
Warming up before a workout and stretching afterwards is probably a regular part of your gym routine.
So why should it be any different at home? Stretching is so important for your muscles. Now that you may have a little more time during your workouts, you can dedicate 10 minutes before and after your workouts to stretching out your muscles to keep them strong and flexible.
Additionally, staying at home tends to mean more eating and less moving which means that it is a struggle to burn as many calories as usual.
There is a lot of research that indicates that when people are in a crisis situation, when they are highly stressed, one of the first things that will change is their eating behaviour.
There are physiological reasons that the body tends to crave high-calorie and high-sugar foods during stressful times, as these foods provide short-term bursts of energy.
Stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which can increase appetite. And sugary foods generate dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward.
It is imperative now more than ever to get your diet right. Good nutrition is crucial for health, particularly in times when the immune system might need to fight back.
Finally, if ever there was a time to apply the power of positive thinking, this is it. Seeing it less as a blow to your fitness, and more as a chance to switch things up and progress.
Don’t be disheartened if you can’t continue with your current gym regime. There are so many options and resources to work out from home, so rather than taking a negative view of the situation when it comes to maintaining your fitness levels, see it as a motivating challenge and a chance to switch things up and progress.”
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Ketan is the founder and CEO of Buckingham Futures, a specialist Recruitment Business that provides bespoke permanent and temporary recruitment and consultancy solutions to public and private sector employers. Ketan has a high profile within the Recruitment sector and is widely recognised as an expert on Employment Law, Employee rights, CV writing and for providing Careers Advice.
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