So, you’ve already binge watched all of the popular shows on Netflix, you’ve reorganized your entire house and you’ve refreshed Instagram about a million times in anticipation that something new has happened. Thanks to self-quarantine, we’re all feeling a little cooped up. And after not doing much of anything for a while, it’s time to put all that energy into something that matters most: YOU.
Taking just 30 minutes out of your day to exercise can completely change how you feel during self-quarantine. Plus, exercise does more than just make you physically healthy; it also has a profound impact on mental wellbeing pertaining to stress levels, mood, sleep and more.
Keep in mind, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A FITNESS JUNKIE TO REAP THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE!
Here are a few tips and tricks to keep you feeling your best during self-quarantine:
Wherever you’re at physically, it is absolutely okay to start out with smaller, smarter milestones and goals. Marathon runners do not roll out of bed one morning and immediately start running marathons; they have countless hours of training to attest for their performance. And to be quite frank, no one is running marathons at the moment, but we are no different than marathon runners: we all start somewhere.
Smaller, more realistic milestones and goals that will help you work up to bigger and better things are much more achievable and measurable. For example, a day one milestone on your way to achieving the goal of running a 5K can be “jog for ten minutes and walk for twenty”. This kind of step is something that is manageable and measurable, and at the end of the day, you’ll feel more satisfied and motivated after you meet your milestone.
An example of a circuit workout that beginners can do that combines endurance and strength workouts could be…
- 20 body weight squats
- 30 second plank (or front leaning rest)
- 30 jumping jacks
- 10 push-ups (or modified push-ups)
- 15 lunges for each leg
- 30 crunches
Repeat the circuit until your 30 minutes are up and take about 10 seconds of rest in between each exercise! Now, if you don’t know exactly what to set for your routine, have no fear. There are exercises out there for everyone!
Find Something You Like
For some, this may seem like a long shot under the preconceived ideas about exercise, but it’s not. I, for one, do not like running. I am not good at it, so I just avoid it all together, but I have other types of exercises that I enjoy doing. It’s best to know what you like and don’t like to do; if you don’t have a clue, this is the perfect time to just try everything! Most exercises that people think of fall into the endurance category, but there are actually three other categories: strength, balance and flexibility.
First, endurance covers quite a few exercises. The good cardiovascular exercises that typically come to mind are walking, running, biking and dancing, all of which can still be done while practicing social distancing. Other exercises, such as jumping jacks, jump rope, burpees and mountain climbers can be practiced in the comfort of your own home!
If you’re into strength workouts, it may be harder to achieve certain goals with some gyms closing their doors due to COVID-19. To do strength exercises in the comfort and safety of your own home, calisthenics (like push-ups) come in handy. Exercises that use your body weight help build lean muscle and can improve overall brain health.
For lower body strength exercises, lunges, squats, and hip extensions are great for beginners, and as you progress, adding resistance bands and dumbbells can help build more muscle. For core workouts, my go-to exercises are planks, crunches, flutter kicks, and sit ups. I typically do these work outs in a circuit and repeat the circuit for about 30 minutes. For the upper body, you can do push-ups and drips, and if you’re lucky enough to have a quarantine buddy, you can do partner shoulder presses.
Tai Chi poses help improve balance while boosting cognitive functions and sleep. Learning the basics is easy with there only being Eight Moving Patterns (or Postures), and Five Steps: forward, backward, left, right and center. Free Tai Chi classes can be found online ranging from beginner to pro. Also, due to studios closing because of the virus, many instructors are streaming their classes online for the public!
The most popular flexibility exercises are found in yoga. Yoga is for everyone; these mental and physical exercises have been around for thousands of years, but don’t let that intimidate you. Beginners can start off with poses like Child’s Pose, Downward-Facing Dog, Cobra Pose, and Tree Pose while watching one of the hundreds of yoga instructor videos on YouTube. Practicing yoga for 30 minutes a day can lead to increased flexibility and increased inner peace. If you’re not into yoga, stretching can be a way to relieve a lot of physical tension in muscles and joints.
Find a Location that Best Fits Your Needs
Once you’ve found the exercises that you like and set your goals, you’ll need a good location. While practicing social distancing, you can still go outside and do some of these exercises. If you want to practice yoga or calisthenics in your courtyard with your dog, by all means do so. Fresh air will do more good than harm, so go outside for a nature walk or jog around your neighborhood.
With that being said, you still want to practice having physical separation from other people during social distancing. Indoors is also a great place to do many of these exercises, and having equipment, such as a treadmill, can move your endurance workouts indoors. You can even plop down in front of the TV and do exercises during the commercial breaks of the evening news; make your workouts fit into your daily routines.
Track Your Routine
There are many free apps that will help you track your fitness goals while you’re in self-quarantine. These apps can be used to remind you to start your workout at a time of your choice, give you different ideas on how to modify your workout and track your achievements. It is very important to track your progress over time, so you can stay focused on your goals.
Having a solid routine is extremely vital in the current state of things, and this doesn’t just apply to exercise! Routines are very important for productivity, so set out specific times during your day for school or work, exercise, chores, and relaxation because life does not stop when Corona comes to town.
Now that you have another item to add to your quarantine to-do list, remember to not let the good habits formed during quarantine slip away, because mental and physical health are just as important outside of a quarantine situation as they are in one. Nonetheless, stay safe and stay healthy, Luxembourg.