If you’re used to being able to hit the gym or work up a sweat at your favourite CrossFit, spinning or Zumba classes, the COVID-19 pandemic might have thrown your fitness regime into disarray. Although we’re allowed to exercise outdoors, what about those rainy days when you just don’t fancy stepping outside? Or perhaps you need to stay at home for health reasons.
Luckily, with a little imagination and know-how, it’s easy to keep up a fitness routine without leaving the comfort of your house or flat. Here are five tips to give you a head start.
1. Combine everyday activities with extra calorie burning
Having a phone catch up with friends or family, or a call with a colleague? Instead of sitting down while you chat, why not increase your step count for the day by walking around the house while you’re on the phone?
Cleaning can be a big calorie burner too, so why not take the opportunity to give each room in your home a deep clean? Even just keeping on top of regular dusting, vacuuming and tidying will help you to stay active. According to health and fitness website Vivotion, cleaning windows for an hour can help you burn 136 calories, while vacuuming can burn 90 calories in just 30 minutes. The best thing is, your house will look sparkling from top to bottom by the time you’ve finished!
2. Find online or TV workouts that are a good fit for you
Since lockdown started, social media has been flooded with home workouts. From personal trainers to sporting stars, there are plenty to choose from. Many of them are designed to be short, sharp energy burners - perfect when you don’t have much time but want to squeeze in an exercise session. Whether you’re looking for entry level workouts or serious cardio sessions, there’ll be something you can stream on your phone or tablet to get you moving.
There are also plenty of great workouts that you can do in front of the TV. For example, Amazon Prime has a host of keep-fit routines to choose from, ranging from traditional routines to Zumba and yoga.
3. Improvise if you don’t have all the gear
If you already have an exercise bike, rowing machine or treadmill, keeping up your regular workout schedule may be a cinch, but don’t panic if you don’t have this gear. Plenty of household objects can double-up as exercise aids and help you burn calories and stay healthy. You can turn tins of beans or bags of rice into weights for your workouts, or tie them up in carrier bags to create improvised kettlebells. Try doing push-ups against your kitchen counter or walls, and give lunges or single-leg step-ups a go on your stairs.
4. Turn your sofa into a home gym
The allure of the sofa can be strong and you might usually gravitate towards it when you want to watch TV, read a book or just generally chill out. But as well as relaxing on this piece of furniture, you can use it as a home gym. There are a range of exercises you can do using your couch as an aid. Simply sitting down and standing back up a number of times in a row can be a great workout for your legs, especially your thighs. Another exercise that you can do is the couch bike, which involves sitting on the edge of your settee, leaning backwards and lifting your legs. When you’re in this position (which requires you to work your core), perform a spinning motion with your legs as though you were riding a bike. Your sofa can also be a useful aid if you want to do exercises such as push-ups, the plank or the side plank.
5. Try fitness apps for added motivation and advice
For that extra bit of motivation to keep you going on those lazy, busy or tiring days when exercise might be the last thing on your mind, it’s well worth giving fitness apps a go. There are plenty to choose from. Aaptiv is a good example. Described as a personal trainer for your pocket, it creates weekly plans based on your settings. Every day, you can take your pick from a range of home workouts, each accompanied by music and MC’d by a different trainer. Lots of the workouts are designed to be suitable for small spaces too, so you don’t need to spread out and take up too much of the house.
Fiit is another popular app. This video-based training aid works best when linked to your TV so you can see your instructor on a big screen. The workouts can be challenging, but they’re rewarding too.
If you’re looking for something more all-encompassing, apps like Centr could be ideal. As well as workouts, it provides a meal planner and daily guided meditation. Or, if you like goal-oriented fitness programmes, apps such as 30 Day Fitness Challenge could be just what you need. As its name suggests, it provides month-long challenges that help you focus on specific goals.
We know that being sedentary is bad for both your mental and physical health, so staying active is essential. Doing this when you have to be at home more than usual - for whatever reason - can require a little extra imagination, but it’s well worth making the effort.
Bear in mind that you might want to speak to your doctor before you start a new exercise regime, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions.