Not being able to go to the gym or attend your favorite fitness class stinks, but it also presents an opportunity to improve in other areas. Here are a few of them:
The “I’m too busy” excuse can no longer be used. You may still be busy, but you’re not going anywhere. You have the time back that long commutes and meetings may have been taking from you. Use it to learn a few simple healthy recipes. Stock your kitchen with healthy food to avoid the “Quarantine 15” and meal prep once or twice a week. Get good at tracking food. Develop these skills now so that when things do return to normal, you will have them nailed down.
Add a dynamic warm-up to your home workouts. This means moving your body through multiple planes of motion using bodyweight movements that help you prepare and typically mimic, the movements you will be doing in your workout. For example, if your workout includes dumbbell lunges, your warm-up may include 10 reps of bodyweight lunges. Post-workout, include some static stretches (20-30 second holds) to help lengthen the muscles that were tightened up during your training session.
This is not the same as flexibility. Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen. Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion. Improving your mobility can not only increase your flexibility, but it decreases your risk of injury and can help decrease muscle soreness. Another huge benefit of improved mobility is increased range of motion which increases muscle activation and strength potential. Foam rolling and yoga (good time to try some online classes) are two great ways to improve your mobility.
Love it or hate it, cardio has undeniable benefits. These include increased fat burning and lung capacity, stronger heart, better sleep, and decreased risk of heart attack, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Oh yeah, it’s not a bad stress reliever either, which could come in handy at a time like this. If you live in a congested area, do your cardio in your home or apartment. If you have a treadmill, stationary bike, row machine, or elliptical, you are all set. If not, you can do timed circuits with a jump rope or bodyweight exercises such as mountain climbers, jumping jacks, squat jumps, lung jumps, toe taps, and burpees to get your blood pumping and your heart rate up! If you live somewhere that allows you to be socially distanced, go for a walk, jog, run, do wind sprints, ride your bike, or go for a hike.
Now is a good time to practice going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. We all know that 7 to 9 hours of sleep is ideal for being alert, focused, less stressed, and more energized. Lesser known is the role that quality sleep plays in helping you to lose weight and reduce inflammation. Even lesser-known than that is that lack of sleep directly affects your immune system, making you more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Make no mistake, I am not a doctor, and this is in no way a tip on how to avoid the coronavirus. All I’m saying is that given the current climate and all that we still don’t know for sure, one thing I do know for sure is that I want my immune system to be as strong as it can be right now.
There are always ways to keep improving. Don’t let the current situation stop you from making progress!
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personalized training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in publications and websites such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, Bach Performance, and The Personal Trainer Development Center (PTDC).
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