By Neal Prokop, Sport Performance Specialist
Effective today, most of us are working from home, doing school from home or doing our part to physically distance ourselves from others so we do not get or increase the spread of the COVID-19 virus. With that, many people are wondering how they can stay fit and active during this very strange time in the world.
We all have excuses for not exercising – My gym is closed and I don’t have any equipment at home, I haven’t exercised in so long, it will be too hard to get started, even though I am working from home my kids still have to do their school work so I have two jobs to do now or I am so stressed about how I am going to pay my rent, that I just can’t start exercising right now – there are far more important things that I need to worry about.
Those are all very valid points but allow me to turn the tables on those points for a few moments and show you how you can stay healthy, get fit and strong and keep your mental health at a high while we all go through this pandemic.
First and foremost, I agree this is a very stressful time and the world has turned on its head and will probably be like this for the next month or two, if not longer. We must accept that this is the case and find ways to deal with our new reality and this is where exercise comes in to play.
At Sport Manitoba, both our Fitness Centre and Performance Centre are closed to the public and as of today, closed to most staff as well. So, I am in the same boat as you. I have limited access to exercise equipment, I am working from home, I have one kid in university doing school online and another one home from his Junior hockey team for the off-season and waiting to start working for the summer.
There are some very important benefits to continuing to exercise or starting to exercise right now.
- First, being strong and fit keeps your immune system strong and helps you fight off illness.
- Second, exercise helps to relieve stress, reduce depression and improve cognitive function.
- Third, exercise helps to burn calories that can help you maintain a healthy body weight.
When we are confined to our houses, we feel restricted in what we can do to get moving and stay active but there is no more important time than now to move and keep healthy. Here is the thing, your best piece of exercise equipment is your body and all you need is that and a small space to keep active, improve your fitness level and reduce your stress level. So, how can we use our bodies to get some great exercise benefits?
Here are some simple tips to get you started:
- If you do not exercise currently, get outside and go for a walk. Break up your day by working for a couple hours and then going outside for a brisk walk for 10-15 minutes to get moving and clear your mind. This is a great way to get your creative juices flowing for your next work bout. If you do this 2-3 times a day, you will get 20-45 minutes of activity right there.
- If you are interested in improving your strength, there are many bodyweight exercises and probably thousands of body weight workouts posted online these days. Key things to remember is that you want to do movements that work in the following movement patterns:
Squatting (Squats, Split Squats, Step Ups, Single Leg Squats)
Hip Hinging (Deadlifts, Single Leg Deadlifts, Glute Bridge, Lunge variations, etc.)
Upper Body Push (Push Ups, Yoga Push Ups)
Upper Body Pull (Pull Ups, Inverted Rows, DB Rows, Barbell Rows)
Core/Torso (planks, side planks, weighted carries, dead bugs, etc.)
If your bodyweight program addresses these patterns, you have the start of a very solid strength training program. There is one issue that you may run into in getting a good bodyweight program and that is finding options for upper body pulling exercises. Most bodyweight upper body pulling exercises are very difficult and most people can’t do them. You can fill water jugs with water and do rows with them. You can also take a bed sheet, tie a knot in the middle of it and then place that knot behind the top of a door and close the door to make your own suspension trainer where you can do inverted rows which is a percentage of your body weight versus lifting your entire body weight.
If you are looking for ideas on how you can get going with minimal equipment, our Fitness Centre is running daily bodyweight workout programs on the @sportmanitoba Instagram feed. Check those out. Our Performance Centre is posting weekly bodyweight challenges for our athletes on our blog so if you want a real challenge go to: www.sportmanitoba/performance/news-events/ and you can find the first couple of challenges on there.
For questions and support, always reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay fit, stay healthy!
Sport Manitoba Performance