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Staying fit & healthy at home during coronavirus

With the current coronavirus pandemic we're all spending more time indoors, but that doesn't mean you can't keep fit and healthy. We've put together some tips and advice for you on how to keep on top of things.

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With the advent of coronavirus, we’ve had to develop new ways of living and working. Admittedly this has taken some getting used to and it can be challenging to make the adjustment from unrestricted movement to staying at home. We’re now spending more time stationary and on digital devices than we’ve previously done, which may have an effect on your physical wellbeing. It’s not always easy staying fit and active in confined spaces or with limited access to open areas. With this in mind we thought we’d explore some of the ways that you can keep fit, active, healthy and engaged while working and studying from home.

 

Develop a routine

It may seem simple and somewhat intuitive, but the importance of having a good daily routine in place cannot be overstated. There is always the temptation to treat having to stay at home somewhat like an extended vacation and lounge around in pyjamas all day, or perhaps even never leave your bed. While this may initially sound absolutely ideal, it can have a negative impact on your overall mood, health and productivity. Being sedentary is the enemy of positive development.

 

Establishing a new routine at home that involves designated activities can go a long way in boosting your output and motivation. For example, you can get out of bed at the same time each day, have a shower and some breakfast in order to prepare for the day. This can be followed by some light exercise or stretching coupled with meditation. Developing these routines helps you to create markers for the day and stay grounded, which is critical for your mental health.

 

exercise at home

A routine will also set you up well for other activities during the day such as studying, research, attending online classes or completing assignments. A technique that you may want to deploy is the creation of a daily or weekly timetable that considers all the activities you’ll need to do and then adding them to designated time slots.  If you're have some questions or worries about coronavirus and your studies why not check out some frequently asked questions? Don't forget, incorporating some leisure time and exercise into your daily timetable is always advisable.  Exercise is a crucial way in which you can moderate your mood and boost your health, including a reduction in blood pressure, stress and cholesterol.

 

Improvise with what you have 

 

With exercise being a central pillar of any productivity strategy, working out the best ways to incorporate it into your daily routine is key. There is the possibility that you may have some limitations in terms of space and equipment, however there are ways around this with some improvisation. Firstly, there is the option of doing some static stretching, which is great for circulation and keeping your joints in working order. All you need is a small space on the floor in your bedroom or living room.

 

The type of stretching that you do can vary depending on your personal preference, with a wide variety of tutorials available online. Yoga is always a favourite form of static stretching, but anything that gets your key muscle groups active will work. If you are feeling adventurous there are also dynamic stretching techniques you can do, which involve moving and stretching at the same time. You’ve probably seen these when athletes warm up on the spot or in small circles before a game or race. Examples, include hip circles and lunging with a twist. How would you do one you ask? Well for a lunge with a twist there are a few steps:

 

  1. Move forward with your right leg and bend it, making sure that your knee is in line with your ankle.
  2. Next reach over your head with your left arm and bend your torso to the right.
  3. Bring your right leg back up and stand up straight.
  4. Repeat with the same with the left leg.
  5. You can repeat the same movements five times on each leg.

 

Home workout

 

Want to break a sweat? 

If you’re looking for something slightly more energetic to get the blood pumping, you can do a 30-minute workout involving more vigorous movements. All you’ll need is some water, a towel and a good tutorial. You’ll often find different options that cater for varying levels of fitness and experience. Many of the movements in these workouts will aim to promote aerobic exercise, with repeated and dynamic movements to raise your heart rate.

 

There may also be elements of resistance training incorporated into the workouts, such as weights and using your own bodyweight. Don’t worry if you don’t have any actual weights or other gym equipment, many everyday items make the perfect substitutes, such as bags of groceries, bottles of water and even tins. If you have an outside area to make use of there are logs or stones that can also stand in for weights and bands. One example you can use is filling up a backpack with cans, tins or filled water bottles and then doing squats and lunges while wearing the bag.

 

 

Workout at home

 

 

If you live in a house or apartment that has stairs this is a real bonus, as running up and down a flight of stairs provides some of the best exercise that you can get. There are also some exercises that you can do which employ the use of your own body weight for their efficacy. This includes sit ups, push ups, squats and planking.  Not sure on the mechanics of planking? There’s not much to it:

 

  1. Find a flat surface and lie down your front and assume a normal push up stance. However, now place your forearms on the floor, push your elbows into your sides and clasp your fists.
  2. Make sure that your bodyweight is resting on your forearms and feet. Maintain a straight bodyline parallel to the floor.
  3. Contract the muscles in your legs and thighs, which will create tension in your abdomen.
  4. Ensure that you do not raise your back or bottom and remain parallel to the floor.
  5. You should hold this pose for 45 seconds to a minute for three repetitions.  

 

Stay fit at home

Don’t forget that a balanced workout should ideally incorporate different and varied elements, with pushing and pulling motions a critical aspect. There are many tutorials and guides online, including one put together by the NHS in the UK to get you started.

 

Eat healthy

 

It goes without saying that maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is crucial to staying in good shape. This means trying to make sure you incorporate the main food groups, including fruit and vegetables; cereals and grains; meat, fish and eggs; and starchy carbohydrates. Although you can treat yourself to unhealthier options like chocolate or ice cream occasionally, eating these foods regularly can negatively impact your health and mood.

 

We know it may be difficult to get hold of fresh fruit and vegetables or ingredients for your meals. There are a couple of tricks and tips that can help. Remember that non-perishable tinned vegetables, fruit and beans are great ways to get some of the essential nutrients into your diet. For example, lentils and chickpeas can make a great meal base. If you do manage to get hold of fresher ingredients, but are worried that you won’t be able to eat them all in time you can freeze a wide variety of vegetables, and even fruit. This includes bananas, berries, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans and carrots. Before freezing your vegetables, it’s best to par boil/blanch them in order to maintain freshness.

The daily recommended number of calories you should be incorporating into your diet as an adult man is about 2500 kcal and for a woman it’s 2000 kcal. Critically, you should not neglect the need to stay hydrated, which means drinking enough water. This can be in the form of tea, coffee, some juices and low fat/skimmed milk. You’ll also be getting some of the water you need from the food you’re eating as well. Staying hydrated ensures good cardiovascular health, promotes better skin, helps with muscles and joints, and boosts immunity.

 

Look after your body and mind

While exercise plays a central role in making sure you stay healthy, you shouldn’t neglect the link between the mind and body. Each one compliments the other and looking after your mental health will help keep your body in good working order. Make sure that you stay in touch with friends and family as much as you can. This interaction will keep your mind sharp and goes a long way to preventing depression. Take time out to do things that you find relaxing, whether that is drawing or gaming. If you’re feeling down or anxious remember that you can talk to someone and there are services that can help.  This could be through your university or a professional counselling service. You don’t have to suffer in silence. We have some tips and advice on keeping on top of your mental health that you may find useful.

 

Although coronavirus poses a significant challenge for us all and it seems like we can’t control much of what is going on, one thing to remember is that what you can influence is your own health and wellbeing. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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