Last week, we made an article talking about how to take care of your mental health. Today, we’re going to look at the other side of the equation: what can you do to maintain your physical health during this MCO period.
Most Malaysians have developed a keen interest in staying healthy since this COVID-19 pandemic first kicked off. But while many of us are getting into habits such as washing hands and wearing masks outside, it feels like physical exercise has turned into a luxury – with the MCO in effect, you can’t visit the gym, use the swimming pool, or even go jogging at the park.
However, the fact that we’re all stuck at home is no excuse for neglecting your physical fitness. Exercise is an important part of maintaining both physical and mental health. Even if you can’t go out, there are still plenty of ways to get your heart pumping and pulse racing.
Whether you’re normally a gym junkie or a couch potato, doing a bit of exercise every day can not only improve your physical fitness but also lifts your mood.
Starting a home workout is actually fairly simple – all you need is a bit of free space and some motivation. No expensive equipment, heavy weights, or complicated machinery needed!
So instead of lying in bed all day, why not spend at least an hour or two trying out one of these home workout ideas?
The most important thing with squats is to have a proper form. Stand with your shoulders relaxed and feet at hip-width distance apart. Look straight ahead to keep your neck aligned (if you have a mirror, it might be useful here). Your arms should be either held straight in front of you or on your hips.
Slowly squat as if you’re about to sit on a chair behind you, keeping your heels planted on the ground and your spine straight. If you’re a beginner, start with between 8 to 12 reps and work your way up from there.
A great way to keep your core and legs toned. First, make sure that your upper body is straight, with relaxed shoulders. To do a lunge, just step forward with one leg, then lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90 degree angle – make sure your knee isn’t touching the floor! Maintain weight on your heels as you push back into the standing position.
Interested in a challenge? If you have a dumbbell at home, you can try adding bicep curls or even walking forward during lunges. As before, beginners should start with 8 to 12 reps and slowly ramp up over time.
3) Stair Climbing
Even if you don’t have a treadmill at home, you can still get some cardio work in by walking up and down the stairs. In fact, intense stair-climbing sessions will produce more benefits than simply walking or running – one hour of stair climbing burns approximately 1,000 calories.
So how to get started? Well, climbing 10 to 12 steps up and down will burn around 2 to 5 calories. Start with a 10 minute session 3 times a week and slowly build up to more time as your endurance improves.
I’m fairly certain that everyone either loves or hates doing planks – there’s no in between. That said, they’re still a great way to work your core and can be included into almost any workout session.
To do a plank, simply get down on the ground as if you’re about to do a push-up. Keep your elbows bent 90 degrees, with both forearms resting on the floor. Now all you have to do is to keep your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your feet. Start off by trying to do it for as long as you can, then try to beat that time every day.
5) Side Plank
Now that you’ve learned about the plank, it’s time to try out the side plank. This particular exercise helps to strengthen your lower back and can help improve your spinal health.
To do a side plank, lie on your side with your legs straight and prop yourself onto your elbow. Brace your core and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line, then hold this position for as long as you can. When you’re done, roll over and repeat on the other side.
If you want to replace that beer belly with a six pack, then crunches will be your best bet. This exercise focuses on your core and abdominal muscles. To make it more comfortable, it’s recommended to do crunches on an exercise or yoga mat if you have one.
When doing crunches, you need to lie flat on your back. Bend your knees and place your arms across your chest. Using your core muscles, lift your upper body, keeping your head and neck relaxed – make sure to keep your lower back touching the floor.
If you’re a beginner, don’t try to force yourself to do too many crunches at once. Better to start with between 10 to 12 reps and work your way up from there.
Ah, burpees. This is one particular exercise that I’m sure you’ve all done at some point. It looks simple on the surface, but a burpee works the entire body at once rather than concentrating on a specific muscle. Add burpees to your normal workout for a high intensity burst that’s sure to get your heart pumping.
To do a burpee, start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Squat to the floor, placing your hands in front of you, then kick your feet back so that you’re in a pushup position. Do a pushup, then immediately pull your feet back and jump up. Repeat this for between 10 to 15 reps for a short, intense workout.
Even if you start your workouts with the best intentions, sooner or later you’re bound to feel tempted to drop it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts like “I’m too tired” or “I’m too busy right now”, but it’s important to stick to your workout routine if at all possible. To help you resist temptation, here are a few handy tips to keep you going:
1) Take Baby Steps – One common mistake that beginners make is trying to do too much, too soon. You wouldn’t try to run a 10 mile marathon during your first day, right? So why push yourself so far immediately? Take it slow and slowly build up your routine over time.
2) Mix Things Up – Doing the same old workout over and over again is bound to get boring. So shake it up every once in a while to keep things fresh. If you normally focus on cardio, try switching to something like weight lifting or flexibility exercises every other week. It’ll help you work on different muscle groups while ensuring that your workout routine doesn’t get stale.
3) Don’t Do Things Alone – Bring in the rest of your family too! Working out together provides some valuable bonding time while making sure that everyone gets some exercise. It also helps to keep everyone more active and motivated during their workout sessions.
4) Realistic Goals – Sad to say, you’re not going to drop 30 kg in a week no matter how hard you work. Focus on the present and try to aim for more realistic goals – for example, raising your plank time from 30 seconds to 60 seconds. It will give you a goal to strive for without getting discouraged by the lack of immediate results.
5) Reward Yourself – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Once you’ve achieved one of your goals, don’t be afraid to reward yourself. Whether it’s something like chocolate brownies, a good movie, or even some game time on the PC, having a little prize at the end of every goal will definitely help to keep you going.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
This is a stressful time for everyone. Between the crashing economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the MCO situation, it’s only natural to be feeling anxious while you’re cooped up at home. However, while everyone has been responding to this situation differently, it is important to learn to cope in a healthy and responsible manner.
While it’s normal to have an urge to eat more junk food or spend hours trawling through Facebook, developing a home workout routine is a good way to vent your excess energy and maintain your physical and mental wellbeing.
Even a short, simple exercise routine can make a world of difference. Keep at it and you may be surprised at how much better you look and feel afterwards.