Exercise is one of the few lawful reasons for Australians to leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say keeping moving during this time is incredibly important for mental and physical health.
As social distancing and lockdown laws came into effect in March, habits and lifestyles flew into disarray. Many of my clients are asking for guidance on how to re-establish routines, ideas for at-home workouts, tips for staying accountable and – perhaps most importantly – how to navigate this time with a positive mindset. Here are my tips on how to stay healthy in our temporary lockdown lifestyle.
Avoid becoming victim to the comfy confines of your home by planning your days ahead of time. Write a list of things you need to do for work, family, groceries and so on, and pencil in some self-care time at a consistent time every day for the following day. Use an alarm to prompt you – I find this helps me a great deal when I lose my sense of time (or even days) while I work at home.
If you usually incorporate weights or equipment into your exercise routine, order a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell, TRX straps or stretch bands online. Wearable fitness technology like a Garmin, Fitbit or Apple watch can help you stay accountable by tracking your levels of activity during your day, ensuring that you’re hitting the advised 10,000 steps and reminding you to “move!” every 45 minutes.
Enjoy the great outdoors
One and a half metres of social distance required? No worries! Lockdown could be a great opportunity to take advantage of your local neighbourhood’s natural wonders: scramble up hills for a hike, take your canoe down a river, cycle the streets or stretch your legs on a scenic coastal run.
Research by The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry in 2011 found exercising in nature was associated with “greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement”. The researchers also noted that outdoor exercise “reduced tension, confusion, anger and depression” – all huge mental benefits for those feeling anxious in this current global crisis.
Instructor-led group classes have always been a great way to feel a part of a community, and this doesn’t have to change in isolation. Many popular fitness studios like F45 and Barry’s now offer live-streamed classes that you can participate in from your home or local park. If your gym has closed, ask if it is offering member subscriptions to home workout streaming services like Les Mills On Demand (plenty are).
Personalised workout apps
There are several fitness apps out there that can act like a personal trainer and guide you through pre-written routines. Apps like Chris Hemsworth’s Centr fit, which is offering free trials for six weeks, allow you to specify your fitness level, style of exercise and preference for sessions either with or without equipment.
Other fitness apps I recommend include Jillian Michales’ app (the original US Biggest Loser trainer). For runners, the free Nike Run Club app has sessions from top running coaches and for all levels of fitness.
Want to walk and unwind instead? Try a mindfulness or meditation app like Insight Timer.
Zara’s full body at home challenge
Here’s a quick bodyweight 25 min workout challenge for you to try three times a week.
Lying leg raises
* Start with 20 reps of each exercise and work your way down to 16, 12, 8, then 4. Cap off each round with a 300m run around the block. Complete the challenge as fast as possible and record your time, aim to improve it each session. Tell @zaraalexandra on Instagram with evidence of workout complete and finish time.