How to stay fit at home during the coronavirus lockdown

There may be a number of questions and concerns going through your mind in response to the coronavirus crisis – two of which may be, how do I stop myself from going stir crazy, and how can I stay fit over the next few weeks if I have to stay at home?

The good news is that the exponential growth of technology over the last couple of decades has led to the home workout becoming a popular option for many people. The days of having to rely solely on that one trusted workout DVD brought out by your favourite celebrity are long gone! Today, YouTube, fitness apps and live streaming on social media are just some of the many ways that people are joining an ever growing fitness revolution – from the comfort of their living room.

Whether you’re completely new to exercise or you hit the gym several times a week, there are home workouts of all types and levels that can help you to look after your mental and physical health during the lockdown (and beyond). The majority of them don’t require any equipment and the ones that do can be done using everyday items that you’re likely to have lying around the house. You can also take some simple steps everyday to start being more active in your everyday routine.

If you’re looking for some home workout inspiration – or just somewhere to start, then the following seven ideas may be useful.

1. Build strength using everyday items you can find around the house

There are plenty of everyday items in virtually every household, that can double-up as exercise equipment to help you build strength at home. For example, you could try using cans or bottles of drinks as small weights, to do bicep curls or a chair to do some seated squats.

If you’re looking for some strength-training routines that you could follow, then the NHS has created a helpful guide, which will show you how to do some basic strength exercises – many of which can be done with a chair or some small bicep weights. The British Heart Foundation also has a helpful video on working out at home using everyday items such as rice, or a bag of potatoes, which you can find here.

If you don’t have some of the items listed here or in the resources above, then feel free to get creative. Try to see every object in your home as having the potential to assist you with your workout, and you might be surprised what you come up with!

2. Connect with friends or family via video chat and workout together

If you’d much rather work out with someone, then first consider whether anyone in your household can join in your workouts with you. If they can’t then think about whether you have a friend or family member in another household who would be interested in taking part in a virtual workout. Using video chat platforms like Zoom or Skype, you could get together with a friend (virtually of course) and follow the same workout. You could come up with your own custom routine together based on your own goals and circumstances (e.g. space, injuries) or you could both find and follow a routine that works for you at the same time – for example, both join a live workout session like those mentioned above, or try following the same YouTube workout, or a workout from the same fitness app that you both have installed on your phones.

Part of the fun here can be planning and organising your sessions with your friend or family member. It gives you another reason to connect and can help you both to focus on something other than the current news feed. If you need some help getting connected with your friends and family virtually, then you might find it helpful to read our full guide to video chatting, here.

3. Complete jobs around the house, or in the garden

Not all exercise has to involve following structured routines. If you’re someone who doesn’t like the idea of following an exercise routine, or you’re simply looking for additional ways to boost your activity, then consider making a list of household activities or chores that you could factor into your daily routine. Most of us do daily chores anyway including cooking and washing up – but there are some activities that will work you harder than others. This could include DIY like painting the ceiling, gardening jobs like clearing a flower bed which has been overtaken by weeds – or household tasks like dusting, decluttering and hoovering! Regular activities like these (that require a level of stretching, lifting and repetitive movements like pushing and pulling), can help you to work on your strength, balance and flexibility, whilst maintaining a healthy weight and lifting your mood.

You might be surprised to learn that by pushing a lawn mower around for an hour, you can burn 376 calories! Or if you don’t have a garden, then light cleaning jobs in doors like dusting or hanging up clothes could have you burning up to 176 calories per hour. The choice of activity is up to you, and you’ll know if you’ve had a good workout because you’ll feel physically tired at the end of it.

4. Follow video tutorials online

Often the hardest part of working out at home is creating structure and variety in our workouts. However, the internet now makes this easier than ever before through the use of video tutorials. You will find thousands all over the internet, so to identify what sort of workouts might be right for you, it’s best to start by deciding what your goals are. YouTube is often the best place to start, because chances are – whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it!

Perhaps you’re looking to shed a few pounds, have some fun, or work on your balance. If you’re looking for weight loss workouts, then these will usually be high intensity aerobic exercises including exercises like star jumps and running on the spot. Those that are designed specifically for you to have fun whilst getting a sweat on will typically be those that include dancing of some sort; from Zumba through to Jazzercise, the choice is yours. If balance training is what you’re looking for, then you may want to look for yoga or tai chi routines, which focus on slow, steady movements.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a specific goal in mind and would really just like to keep moving at home, then you could try one of Fit for Good’s online sessions. They post a new session three times a week which is designed to help you gain strength, flexibility and stamina, and each one is led by a different instructor.

5. Download a fitness app

Fitness apps are a great way to gain easy access to home workouts in any room in the house, or even your garden. They cover a range of different activities from yoga through to aerobics. If you’re someone who struggles to stay focussed during workouts or you’re a complete beginner, then you may be pleased to know that there are plenty of apps that will help you get an effective daily workout in just a few minutes! If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then here are a couple of free apps you could try…

Seven Minute Workout – Workouts on this app are equipment-free and are designed to be short (seven minutes!) but effective, and really get you sweating. Choose what area of your body you want to target and at what level – or create your own custom workout. A personal trainer will talk you through each routine with voice and video instruction, guiding you all the way. It also has a notification setting that will remind you to exercise.

Yoga for Beginners – Yoga is great for both mind and body, and this app will teach you all the basics you need to know to get started on your yoga journey. It has soothing voice guidance that is designed to help you learn and clear your mind.

6. Earn your treats

If you’re unable to get out and about, then it can be tempting to spend more time indulging in some of your favourite food and drink. At such a stressful time, we all deserve to enjoy ourselves in the ways that we can, but chances are, you will feel better both mentally and physically if you can create a balanced system. So by all means enjoy your evening glass of wine or your favourite dessert, but consider how you can work some extra physical activity into your day to compensate. That way, when you sit down to enjoy your treat, the sense of reward will often be much greater.

Consider starting this today. If you plan to enjoy a slice of your favourite chocolate cake later, then start thinking about how you could find a way to be active today. Perhaps you could get out in the garden first and do some weeding and digging or challenge yourself to do 20 chair squats. This is not to say that every time you do either of these things, you should reward yourself with a sweet treat. This idea is simply designed to help you think more carefully about the amount of food you may be indulging and how much activity you’re doing to balance it out.

7. Join a live online workout session

One of the main reasons that people go to classes is because they enjoy being part of a wider fitness community – made up of people who have all come together to work towards a common goal. Whilst you won’t be able to attend in-person exercise sessions during the coronavirus lockdown, you can still join in with live workout sessions either online or on TV. And although you won’t be in a room full of people, there’s still something psychological about knowing that you are one of tens or hundreds (or even thousands) of people across the UK who is currently watching and taking part in the same workout – which can be hugely motivating.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start with this for free, then Diana Moran – who was the original keep-fit Queen of the 80s has recently returned to BBC Breakfast to help people keep fit during the coronavirus crisis. Her exercise segments are to be aired every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at around 6.55am and 8.55am and will be either live or pre-recorded, from her home. Her routines are designed to help people work on their strength, balance and flexibility. She recently told the BBC, “I’ve been self-isolating for a week – but we’ve got to keep moving!”

It’s also worth noting that online coaching programmes such as Yogaia and Classpass will also enable you to participate in exercise classes in real time, and get personalised tips from instructors. You can try Yogaia for two weeks for free, after which there is an annual membership fee. With Classpass, it’s free to set up an account, and you will then pay a monthly fee – the price of which will vary depending on how many classes you want to take each month. It’s also worth keeping an eye out on Facebook for any live workouts – you may have friends or family members who work in the fitness industry or know someone who does and are offering virtual classes. If you were signed up to a gym before the coronavirus crisis, then it’s also worth checking their Facebook page to see whether they have created any virtual workout options for people to join in with.

And remember…

Whilst home workouts are a great way to take care of your physical fitness by helping you to build and maintain your strength, balance and flexibility – they also go a long way in helping you to look after your mental wellbeing. Many people say that exercise gives them the purpose, hope and courage to keep going when things get tough.

How you choose to stay active at home will be entirely up to you and what may work for some, may not work for others. But try to have fun with finding what works best for you. Take care and stay safe!

Do you have any additional tips to share on keeping fit at home? Email us at [email protected] or post on the community forum. We’d love to hear from you.

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