With gyms closed down and many of us now working (or unemployed) from home, getting our usual dose of exercise can be challenging. Even without a formal exercise program many of us depended on our daily activities to keep the blood flowing (walking to the bus, walking from parking lot to office, walking around the office, walking to a restaurant or cafeteria or lunchroom for a break). Now that our “commute” is a few steps from bedroom to home office or living room, sitting in one spot for long periods has become prevalent. It’s time to figure out this home workout thing.
[Edit: Jan 2022] It’s closing in on two years since the pandemic swept across the globe and “stay at home” orders were issued. They have been dropped, modified, put in place again, dropped again and modified some more. New variants have swept along. Right now Omicron is creating very high infection numbers in Alberta. Many people are still working from home. I’ve updated some links, but the main message of getting moving is still a great one.
A few years ago there was a huge meme in the working world that “sitting is the new smoking”. The dangers of sitting still for long periods was becoming more well known. In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is a pattern of disharmony called “blood stasis”. This is behind all the leading causes of death. Stroke and heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol are all related to the TCM concept of blood stasis. For more information read my blog post: “Move or Die”.
To combat this we need to move frequently. It is suggested that we get up a minimum of once per hour to move around. Most fitness watches have a feature that beeps or buzzes or lights up when you have been stationary for too long. If you have a fitness watch I suggest getting reacquainted with it. I know I often ignore the subtle buzz of mine when I get involved in a project (or Netflix show). Another option is to set a repeating countdown timer on your computer or phone to remind you to get up and wander around. Find little tasks around the house that require you to move around and climb stairs if you have them.
Fresh air is good for the soul. And sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D. Try to get outside for a brisk walk every day. Obviously in our current situation you need to maintain a physical space of at least 2 metres between yourself and other walkers. I have found that a brisk morning walk with my dog has been a good way to get the brain focused for the day’s activities. My preference is early morning. Find a time that works best for your routine and body.
Sometimes just a walk isn’t enough. Perhaps you have a higher level of fitness that you want to maintain, or you want to burn off some stress and anxiety after watching the news. There are tons of free resources available on the web.
Many fitness facilities are offering online classes via zoom to their current members. Some are also offering drop in passes for non-members. [Edit: links updated Jan 2022]
Stretching & Yoga
- Bowflex 5 minute full body stretch: like this one
- Practice yoga with Adriene, or for the kids: Cosmic Kids Yoga
- Calgary Iyengar Yoga offers online classes
- Calgary rehab clinic Move to Move offers online movement instruction
- Try a 30-minute bodyweight workout on YouTube
- High intensity training with this 30-minute (brutal) HIIT workout on YouTube that doesn’t need any equipment
- Holly Dolke offers a 30-day Home Workout Challenge that is free
- Apps! There are apps that offer free workouts that you can stream to your phone or cast to a larger screen. I like FitOn for the wide variety of free workouts (cardio, stretching, yoga, HIIT, pilates, kick boxing, strength, even meditation).
- Paid apps such as FitBit Premium, Peleton, and Nordic Track offer streaming workouts in addition to their equipment.
Try to pick one or two exercises from above and make it a daily routine. Many of us thrive on stability. Create a new schedule for your new lifestyle. Add time to workout and get away from the computer and TV screens. This can be a time of creating new, healthy habits. With so much upheaval in our routine it makes it easier to create new habits.
Creating a home workout can take some creative thinking. It can be as simple as getting up every hour to do a chore: load the dishwasher, take the laundry downstairs, do 5 minutes of squats picking up the kids toys, bring the laundry back upstairs…. you get the idea. Add in weights with the objects at hand. Do some arm raises with the cans you’re putting away. Do some bicep curls with your new baby. Piggy back your toddler up and down the stairs to get them laughing and give you a great workout. Make it fun and creative.
Additionally, remember to eat well, drink plenty of water, and make sure you are getting enough sleep (an average adult needs 7.5 to 8 hours).
Feel free to post your favourite exercise tips and resources in the comments below. Together we can inspire each other and make a home workout fun and easy.