Posted on Feb 02, 2021, 4 p.m.
Recent events are keeping many people stuck homebound as most events have either been canceled or put on pause and many people are working or going to school from home due to mandates and restrictions which has created some anxiety and challenges like how to stay physically active to go along with the cabin fever.
Studies suggest that one of the best and least expensive ways to help relieve some of the pent up stress and anxiety to calm your nerves is exercise. Exercise helps to reduce tension and elevate your mood by releasing feel-good endorphins, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Exercise can help to stabilize your mood and help to regulate sleep, and it is a proven strategy to not only help improve but also strengthen and maintain a functioning immune system.
For the time being a lot of gyms and studios are still closed, and at least for now, most people are trying to stay close to home and physical activity has decreased. This is not just in America, it is around the globe, according to a study published in the Annal of Internal Medicine, within 30 days of W.H.O declaring a pandemic global steps were down about 27% and the average daily step sound decreased around 5% in only 10 days.
If you are like most people you may have noticed that you are putting on some extra weight over these past months, maybe it is time to consider doing something about this issue rather than let it continue. Just because shops may be closed and you might be staying close to home does not mean you have to become sedentary. You can stay active at home simply by fitting in a few hundred more steps daily. Really staying physically active never had to be complicated, expensive or time-consuming, nor does it require special equipment.
Perhaps one of the activities that are most enjoyable that gets overlooked is dancing. You can put together a playlist of favorites or just turn on the radio and dance. Dancing is a fun way to enjoy music while you are getting your heart pumping, and no one is watching so you can let loose. Dancing has been shown to improve cardiovascular health while improving balance and stability, also did we mention that it is fun? You can even find free online dance workout routines if you prefer to follow a class to stay active and entertained while reducing stress and using up some of that pent up energy.
You can also squat it out to stay active and challenge your muscles. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences squatting is a natural and functional movement pattern that offers high levels of muscle activity that can help to reduce some of the associated health risks that come from being sedentary. You don’t need any equipment to do squats, this can be done pretty much anywhere like when brushing your teeth/hair for two minutes twice daily, this provides a nice time to target muscles in your lower body while practicing good hygiene.
Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and it also gets the entire body involved and engages the entire kinetic chain from head to toe. It also helps to strengthen your muscles, improves balance, flexibility and coordination, along with improving moods and focus among other benefits. You don’t need to be an expert, almost everyone can do yoga with it having many different levels that you can do at your own pace. You can order a program or even find free classes online to follow along with to help you to stay physically active and reduce stress/anxiety while stuck at home. If yoga just isn’t for you, consider Tai Chi for similar health benefits and meditation, once more you can find free online classes to follow along with.
If you are like most people you are spending much more time in the kitchen, why not try incorporating some calisthenics while doing so? Try lifting your legs while cooking, by lifting to either side or behind you, you can help tone your glutes and outer thighs. You can even add a resistance band around your thighs or ankles to intensify this exercise to make it more of a challenge. This can also be done while folding laundry, or just watching tv. Once more you can find free online videos to discover ways of adding calisthenics to your daily activities.
For those working/schooling at home, nothing says that you need to stay sedentary, you can make the decision to move your body, specifically your feet while talking on the phone or in a conference call. Get up and walk the length of the room, walk around a piece of furniture, go outside and walk around your yard/balcony, or better yet if you have stairs go up and down them to get your heart going. Walking is a great exercise that research shows helps to boost your mood, energy, and immune system. You need about 20 minutes a day of walking to get the most benefit, that is pretty easy in a few calls and it is far better for you than sitting on your bottom all day.
There are many opportunities to turn tasks and chores into exercise opportunities while you are home. You can do lunges while vacuuming, squats while doing the laundry, bicep curls while reorganizing the pantry, and toe touches while dusting. While you are watching TV you could be doing Russian twists or sit-ups during commercials. You could even perform a series of movements that complement each other like burpees, bent-over rows, planks, lunges, and standing presses.
For those that prefer to have the equipment, learn to be creative with furniture to use as non-traditional workout equipment. You can use the couch to do sit/squats, use a chair to do incline push-ups or triceps dips, and a bag of canned goods, gallon water jugs, books, or even the vacuum to do bicep curls. With a little imagination, there is a lot of unconventional workout equipment in your home that you can use to stay active.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
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