Exercising in your living room isn’t new – Jane Fonda showed us how to do it in lycra and leg warmers back in the early ’80s.
Since COVID-19, many more of us have been exercising at home (thankfully, without the leg warmers!). If you’re keen to try it, then you need to schedule it into your week, create a clear space to move, and pick a form of exercise that you think you’ll enjoy.
There are now many apps you can use for an at-home workout or you can create your own mix of cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises. Remember to stretch to warm up and cool down. And start small, building up the intensity or duration of your workouts as your fitness increases.
At-Home Workouts: What You Need to Know
How’s your fitness been during #isolife? It’s a question that gets a mixed response depending on how (and how much) you like to exercise.
With gyms and pools closed, you can’t do your usual fitness class or power through your laps. You may also be missing the incidental activity that’s usually provided by walking from the station to the office.
Forced to spend more time at home than usual, many people have begun working out at home. Maybe you’ve spotted your neighbour doing yoga on the lawn and been thinking of trying something similar.
But, how do you get started, especially if you’re not in the habit of regular exercise any more?
At-Home Workout Apps
There are many, many health and fitness apps you can use for your at-home workout. Some focus on a particular form of exercise like strength training, cardio, pilates, yoga, barre, high intensity interval training, running or cycling, while others let you choose what you fancy today.
If you don’t exercise regularly (or if your favourite exercise is barred to you thanks to COVID-19), then you need to think about how to form a new habit of fitness.
Habit expert James Clear recommends that you:
- State your plans as precisely as you can, e.g. ‘I will do 20 minutes of pilates in my living room before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays’. Stating your implementation intention like this makes you three times more likely to succeed.
- Boost your motivation by focusing on something you can achieve even when your willpower is low. If going for a run feels hard, focus on getting your trainers on at the set time – getting started with something easy builds momentum.
- Focus on the habit rather than the goal to start with. In the beginning, what matters most is that you get into the habit of doing even a little bit of exercise at the time you established – you can set fitness goals once you’re in the habit of regular exercise.
So, do you fancy 20 minutes of pilates before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays? If not, what sort of exercise appeals to you? When and how will you do it? Go on, write it down.
Set Up Your Space
Once you’ve decided what you’ll be doing, it’s time to think about where you’ll be doing it.
Living room workouts are great, especially if you have a smart TV where you can watch your fitness videos on YouTube or a connected app.
Be realistic about the space you need. While it’s tempting to ignore the debris on the living room floor, you don’t want to trip over scattered toys or lose your rhythm trying to clear more space mid-workout.
At-home workouts for beginners should always start and end with stretches (to be honest, that’s good advice for every fitness level).
Warm your muscles up first with a few minutes of movement, then stretch each muscle group.
Stretching helps to:
- Release tension
- Improve flexibility
- Prevent injury
- Increase blood and nutrient supply to your muscles
- Reduce soreness.
If your chosen fitness app or video doesn’t include stretches, then try some of these.
If you’d decided to learn a second language, you’d start off with some easy words and phrases, like telling people your name or ordering a cup of coffee. If you were learning a musical instrument, you’d start off with a few notes and scales, then build up to playing full pieces or performing in front of others.
It’s the same with exercise. Start slowly, keep at it regularly, and then push yourself more once you’re ready. Overall, you’re much more likely to keep going if you begin slowly and build up than if you push yourself too much at the beginning, decide you’ll never be an athlete and then give up.
Exercises to Do at Home
When it comes to workouts, one size most definitely does not fit all. If the thought of an exercise app full of set routines doesn’t appeal to you, you can easily create your own in-home workout.
Over the course of each week, try to do a mix of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility exercises.
- Cardio: Speed up your breathing and heart rate with a half-hour walk or by dancing to some upbeat music. Pick a pace that means you can keep up a conversation without getting puffed out.
- Strength: Improve your muscle strength and function by lifting weights, doing press-ups or using resistance bands. Aim to exercise each major muscle group, like your shoulders, arms, glutes and thighs. Repeat each exercise (e.g. a bicep curl) 10-12 times, pause a moment, then repeat the set again. As you get stronger, you can increase the weight or add in an extra set.
- Flexibility: Stretch out each muscle group and hold for 10-30 seconds, breathing deeply and slowly as you feel the tension flow out of your body. Try these stretches.
Don’t work the same part of your body for two days in a row – if you’ve done weights on Tuesday, then go for a walk on Wednesday to let your tired muscles rest.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic Can Help
If you have a previous injury or an underlying medical condition, you may be unsure how to start exercising safely. As physiotherapists, we can assess your fitness and develop a program of home-based exercises to strengthen your body and improve your flexibility.
Best of all, we can do most of this through telehealth, meaning you don’t have to leave home (and can get started with your workout immediately afterwards, if you’re keen!). Make an appointment today.