Staying at home does not have to bring your fitness journey to a halt. Regular equipment-free exercise and eating healthy are the way to go, says Ayushi Sharma
The lockdown has been nothing less than a challenge for everyone. In between switching channels, odd eating hours and poor sleep schedule, you may find it difficult to follow a proper workout regime. However, fitness experts suggest that home workouts can be a great substitute for gym sessions. It’s a good idea to start with basic bodyweight exercises. Yoga is another activity that can be done anytime and anywhere. It is just important to ensure that there is a routine and you stick to it as you need to channel your pent-up energy. Here are some tips and tricks one can follow:
Various Home workout techniques
The founder of a fitness social network and consultation platform, FITTR, Jitendra Chouksey, tells us that exercising not just strengthens your immune system but it is a great way to ward off some of the psychological issues associated with being cooped up for an extended time. He shares that one can always begin with basic exercises which require no equipment at all.
For instance, push-ups are a great way to exercise at home. “If you’re completely new to this exercise, you can start with wall push-ups. As you gain strength, graduate to bent knee push-ups. Then, one bent-knee push-ups (with the other leg stretched out). Once you’re able to do these properly with full range of motion and correct form, then start doing regular ones (with both legs stretched out),” says he and goes on to add that you can add progressions or increase the intensity in two ways — either by doing different variations of the exercise, such as one-armed push-ups, decline push-ups where you place your feet on a higher surface or you could add external weight, such as doing regular push-ups while wearing a backpack with some weights inside it.
Jitendra suggests another great way is to perform circuit training. It’s a form of body conditioning or resistance training using high-intensity aerobics. It targets strength building and muscular endurance. This involves performing a series of exercises in rapid succession with a very short break or even no break in between.
He recommends, “Try doing AMRAP (as many reps as possible) or TABATA, a high-intensity interval training, where you workout for 20 seconds, then take a 10 second break and repeat the cycle for eight rounds.”
Any physical activity that can keep you active and fit is great during the lockdown, feels Sarvesh Shashi, founder of SARVA and Diva Yoga. For instance, he says, “Even five minutes of yoga is better than doing nothing all day. While mornings are apt, yoga routines are flexible enough to be practiced all day.” He shares some basic yoga routines that can help build immunity and keep you active:
Kapalabhati pranayama: Sit comfortably with your spine straight and place your palms on your knees. Take a deep breath in. As you inhale, pull your stomach in and try pulling your navel back towards the spine as much as possible. As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically. Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of kapalabhati pranayama.
Inversions: These enable the lymph fluids to flow through the body, filtering the bacteria and viruses in the system and thus help in ramping up your immune system.
Twist and detox: Seated spinal twists compress and stretch the core/torso, increasing the circulation of blood to the gut, which stimulates the digestion process. A healthy gut is essential to building a stronger immune system.
The rise of fitness apps
Since everybody has switched to home workouts, there has been a rise in online fitness apps. These applications claim that it’s like having your own personal trainer on the smartphone. “During the lockdown period, FITTR has seen a spurt of almost 15 per cent in the total number of downloads. A really well-designed fitness app is an intuitive tool that becomes the one-stop-shop for all your fitness needs, right from nutrition and diet to exercise and overall well-being,” shares Jitendra. “We understand the key roles that motivation and peer support can play in helping a person on their fitness journey. FITTR has over 5,00,000 members and it provides them with a platform to share their stories and engage with others on their fitness journeys,” adds he.
While it’s definitely much easier to lounge on a couch, binge watch on series and forget your commitment to the gym but the lockdown is no excuse to ditch exercise, says Diksha Chhabra, a fitness trainer, sports nutritionist and founder of Diksha Chhabra Fitness Consultations. “The user must decide on an apt platform on the basis of effectiveness, flexibility and personal attention. If all these aspects are taken care by the platform one chooses, it’s a great way to stay active in a disciplined manner,” she feels.
Not everybody is a fitness enthusiast but it’s really important for people to indulge in some kind of physical activity. However, the question is how to make it interesting so that people are motivated? Experts believe that online fitness platforms are actually inspiring their followers to get up and keep moving.
With a commitment to remaining fit, active and healthy while staying at home, close to a thousand members of the Decathlon community, whether they be teammates or volunteer sports ambassadors, have come together with a series of #playitsafe challenges and activities online. It offers virtual workouts ranging from indoor running, strength and conditioning to targeted workouts and yoga sessions.
Decathlon has also put together a creative format of virtual events dubbed as ‘Hallympics’ for those missing the Olympics. These were a series of games and challenges for people at home to follow and participate in, hosted across social media platforms. The activities were designed to be easily practiced in one’s hall, living room or just about anywhere. Points were awarded collectively to each city. Challenges included handle hurdles, one glass-one leg, frozen squat designed for just about anybody from kids to groups of family members.
Another fitness gamification app, StepSetGo, has revolutionised walking by rewarding its users. They took cognizance of this global self-isolation and launched a 21-day fitness challenge on their app. As a part of this, users will undergo a series of seven challenges, all from the comfort of their homes. Users will be challenged to be active, burn calories, test their endurance levels and find innovative ways to walk two km within their homes. In the end, they will be rewarded with StepSetGo coins, which can be redeemed for exciting offers on the app’s bazaar as well as Amazon vouchers.
Well, technology, for sure, is increasingly finding a place within people’s fitness routines now more than ever.
Do not confuse boredom with hunger
Since the level of physical activity is reduced, our energy requirements are lower than usual. “People should stick with regular healthy balanced meals. Portion control is necessary as we are sitting at home, we tend to confuse boredom with hunger,” says Diksha. “One can ensure eating at fixed timings and set portions, avoid binge eating fried junk. Stick to regular Indian meals, which is well-balanced with protein, carb, vitamin, mineral and fibre. Addition of fruits and vegetables are a must to boost your immunity and metabolism,” adds she.
A healthy gut can ward off many health conditions. It is important that your diet is composed of antioxidant-rich foods. “Include immunity-boosting foods every day including those rich in Vitamin C and other minerals,” Sarvesh shares.
Jitendra suggests a few ways to ensure that you continue to stay healthy and eat well:
Avoid junk food: It’s tempting to demolish all the cookies and chocolates as you lounge on the sofa watching movies. But these are empty calories that will only make you put on weight. Eat healthier snacks such as vegetable sticks, fruit and salads (without the sauces). The best way to avoid temptation is to not stock junk food in the house at all.
Don’t starve yourself: Another problem is that people could go to the other extreme and cut their food intake drastically because they’re afraid of gaining weight. Don’t cut calories all of a sudden. Eat whole foods and let hunger be your guide. If you aren’t sure how much to eat, use fitness apps to calculate your daily caloric requirement.