Are you struggling to stay active while you’re cooped up and wondering how you can stay healthy and fit while in quarantine? You are definitely not alone. In the current circumstances of lockdown, working out may sound like a farfetched idea.
But there are exercises you can do at home without the need for fancy equipment. Before we get started, let’s address the “Achille’s heel” in your fitness agenda and how to overcome them.
Can You Really Maintain a Work-Life Balance While Working From Home?
You might think that you just received a gift from the stars by getting the opportunity to work from home. You can work in your PJ’s all day long with your dog/cat curled up at your feet with flexible hours (you work when you want as long as the work gets done). Your partner and/or child(ren) is in the next room over. And there’s no commute! It looks like your job and life finally integrated…
But wait. You start sleeping later and later. Eventually, you lose track of the day, the time, and the hour. Your face has become glued to the screen and you think, “OMG. I haven’t left my computer other than to sleep in 11 days.”
The lack of a routine is a silent killer of the work-life balance for people who work from home, which also includes exercise. Ironically, the lack of activity also kills motivation and productivity.
This lack of motivation can also translate to more hours sitting behind the screen because you didn’t use your time efficiently — maybe due to those bouts of “brain fog” because you haven’t been active.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to all sorts of health problems from excessive fatigue to weight gain to muscle and joint problems; which will inevitably cause you miss out on life going on right in your house.
The bottom line is that you need an exercise routine for your health, your family, and your friends.
How working in an exercise routine can improve your job performance
You might think that some people are more naturally “on” than others. But chances are, this appearance of productivity, wit, and enthusiasm might have more to do with a healthy lifestyle than innate talent.
Regular exercise can help you:
• Improve your mood and mental health: When you exercise, your body releases chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, adrenaline,serotonin, and more. These help you regulate your mood, energy, focus, stress levels, and motivation to keep you going strong. You can even get the coveted “runner’s high” from a chemical called anandamide, which also happens to be a chemical linked to your endocannabinoid system.
• Keep your brain structure and function strong: Exercise has been shown to stimulate the body’s release of chemicals that support learning and thinking.
• Improve your sleep: If you’re not sleeping, you’re definitely not going to think as sharply. A little exercise in your life can certainly help with this.
• Strengthen your bones and muscles: You may not immediately see the relevance of bone density and muscle mass to work focus, but it’s there. If you’ve ever experienced a “bad back” and had to sit at a computer all day, you know the importance of this. If you’re bones and muscles are strong, you’ll decrease the chance of aches and pain in your muscles and joints that can hamper your work efforts.
Best practices for working in an exercise routine while working from home
It’s never too late to start some healthy habits. Here are some tips to help you work exercise into your routine:
• Set a time (and stick to it) for exercise: Procrastination is your worst enemy when it comes to exercise. Just because we can’t go to the yoga studio at a set-time, does not mean we can’t schedule it. Set your calendar with a day, time, and hour for exercise with a link to your favorite exercise video.
• Include exercise as part of your day: If you have a choice between the elevator and the stairs, take the stairs. Alternate between running and walking while taking your dog out. Or hang laundry by hand during one of those “I must take a break to do chores” procrastination moments. You name it, you can find a way to make it “exercise.”
• Make your workstation an exercise station: You don’t have to set up a fancy standing desk or bicycle desk to stay active, but you can make it more active. You can stack books on a table, desk, or other raised surface to make a standing desk that you can step back and forth from in order to keep your body engaged as you work. If you can set up two screens with a splitter cable, that’s an added bonus– as you’ll be forced to regularly turn your head and twist your body slightly as you work.
• Make yourself accountable: Got a workout buddy? Schedule a zoom workout session together or create an exercise diary together. When someone is part of your routine, it is easier to make yourself do the work.
We have compiled 5 exercises you can do at home that will get your blood flowing and joints moving.
1) Core Extension and Cross-Crawl
This exercise gives your core a great workout. It also helps stabilize and strengthen your back muscles, arms, legs and spine. It improves your balance, posture, and coordination. Here’s how to do it:
1. Start the exercise by positioning yourself on your hands and knees.
2. Slowly, extend your right arm straight in front of you and your left leg directly behind you.
3. Hold this for two seconds and bring in your extended arm and leg slightly, and then re-extend, balancing on your limbs that are still on the ground. Bring your Extended arm and leg back to the floor.
4. Repeat on the other side.
5. This is one rep. Repeat 3 sets of 7 reps.
2) Kneeling on Four
This one might require some practicing and balance. It is a perfect exercise to keep you in good shape as it improves your upper body strength, your back, your glutes, and your legs.
1. Kneel on your arms and knees with the palms on the floor.
2. Now lift one of the legs and try making a circle, starting from one elbow to the other using your knee.
3. Now repeat this with the other leg.
4. Try doing a rep of 10 on each side for sets.
3) Bear Crawl
This exercise is great to help improve your stability, strength, and balance and can really get your heart racing.
1. Get on the ground and balance yourself on your hands and feet.
2. Move four steps to the left and then four steps back to the right, keeping yourself on your hands and feet. You can also try moving forwards and backward.
3. Start with 5 reps on each side. It may sound simple, but this one can be laborious.
4) The Side Plank
This one is a great exercise for your core and upper body. The side plank also helps tone your legs from hips to heels. Not only does it strengthen your oblique and shoulders, but the deep muscles of your lower back as well.
1. To start, get in a low plank posture with both elbows on the floor placed directly under your shoulders. Keep your weight balanced between your toes and arms. Keep your core and glutes engaged.
2. Now shift your body weight to the left elbow, and roll onto the left side, so the whole body is facing left. Make sure both your feet are stacking on top of each other.
3. Raise your right arm to the ceiling and hold this stance for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the same on the right side now.
4. You can do 2 to 4 reps depending on your body strength. Once you have developed enough strength, you can increase the reps as well as the timing of each stance up to 1 minute.
Nothing beats the basics like pushups, one of the most effective bodyweight exercises. It is a perfect exercise to build upper body strength. It involves all major upper body muscles, such as the triceps, shoulders, and pectoral muscles, and also works your entire core.
1. Start with the plank position, holding yourself up on your hands and feet.
2. Pull down your shoulders, tighten up your core, and keep your neck neutral. Now, bend your elbows lowering your body towards the floor slowly. Go as low as you can or till your chest is about to touch the floor.
3. Extend your elbows to return to the starting position. Try to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible.
4. If you cannot do this exercise, you can use a modified stance by resting your knees on the floor. Once you build your upper body strength, you can try the standard pushups. Aim for 10 pushups.
Push Your Limits
These five basic exercises you can do at home will keep you in good health and your body in shape. However, there is always room for improvement. If it feels like you are breezing through these, challenge yourself and add more reps or sets. Stay home, stay safe, and stay fit.