These are tough times but they're slowly easing up. We were confined to our homes and we couldn’t even take the dog for a walk around the block, let alone go for a run.
Every day the coronavirus numbers go up; yet more people are diagnosed; yet more people die. It’s enough to make you want to crawl back into bed and pull the duvet over your head.
But don’t. Now more than ever we should all make an effort to exercise – it’s a balm for both body and soul, experts say.
Exercise releases endorphins, your body’s feel-good hormone, and when endorphin levels go up, they can counteract the stress response that’s so damaging to the immune system, says Tony Maloney of the US’ National Institute for Fitness and Sport.
So, with gyms still a place one is weary to visit, it’s time to turn your home into a bespoke exercise area – and it’s pretty easy, really. All you need is a dollop of inspiration, an injection of get up and go, and a dose of know-how.
USE WHAT YOU HAVE
You don’t need a Pilates ball, a set of weights or even a yoga mat to get fit at home. A beach towel or bathmat are good yoga-mat substitutes, canned foods make great dumbbells and furniture makes excellent gym equipment. You can also do some form of exercise in every room of your home.
Spread a towel or mat on the floor and put on your best exercise music. Pushups, squats, planks and sit-ups require nothing more than your own body weight and are widely regarded as some of the most effective exercises you can do to build fitness and strength.
Set yourself a target of repetitions at least three times a week and work through them. Aim to increase your number of reps every time.
TO TONE YOUR ARMS
Sit on the edge of a dining room chair – or any stable chair – and place your palms on the seat directly below your shoulders with your fingers facing forward. Bend your knees with your feet hip-width apart, and take three steps forward, supporting yourself with your arms.
Slide your butt off the chair, bend your elbows and lower yourself to the floor, then lift yourself up again. Repeat 15 times if you can.
TO TONE YOUR LEGS
Hold onto the back of a chair to stabilise yourself. With your feet hip-width apart, lift one leg to the side slowly – don’t use momentum or you won’t be using your muscles.
Repeat at least 15 times on each side. To tone calves, hold onto the chair and rise up on your toes about 20 times or until you feel the burn.
TO TONE YOUR LEGS, HIPS, TUMMY AND BACK
Standing with your back to your couch, your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your side, bend your knees and lower your hips to the couch – but don’t sit down. Hover for a minute if you can, then stand up again. Repeat as often as you can, aiming for 25 reps.
TO STRENGTHEN YOUR ARMS, SHOULDERS, CHEST, TUMMY AND BACK
Stand facing the kitchen counter, away from the edge with your feet hip-width apart. Lean forward and place your hands on the counter a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
Bend your arms and lower your chest towards the counter and then slowly push yourself back up again. Repeat up to 15 times.
TO TONE THIGHS AND HIPS
Start at one end, feet together and arms at your sides, and then take long lunging steps to the other side, bending as deep at the knee as possible and holding each for as long as possible. Aim to do 25 lunges a session.
- Do daily stretching exercises – from your neck, arms and wrists to quads and hamstrings.
- Firmly wrap unopened packs of flour or sugar inside plastic bags and use them to do tricep and bicep exercises.
- For increased mobility, raise a broom above your head and, with your arms locked, take it behind you to a point where you encounter resistance.
- With the broom resting on your shoulders behind your neck, turn slowly from side to side for a good spinal twist.
- Got a dog? Now that you can’t walk Fido outside the house, engage him in your fitness routine too – he’ll love it. Take a long, sturdy rope and give him one end, then pull the other yourself and engage in a game of tug-of-war.