Your favorite gym is closed and social distancing puts personal trainers out of reach. To make matters worse, all the stress and anxiety in the air is making binge-watching and all-day-snacking irresistible.
Did you know even just 1 hour of lazy behavior—like vegging out on the couch—has been shown to reduce immune function? It’s a vicious cycle: less physical activity equals more stress, more stress leads to lethargy, poor eating habits, and decreased health, which studies show make us more vulnerable to illness—the very thing stressing us out in the first place!
Thankfully, you can still work out from home. And it’s really not all that hard. But with the world upside down, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why we put together this quick, 3-step workout you can do from home each day. Best of all—no equipment or formal training is necessary.
Whether it’s jumping jacks, a stroll outside, or jogging in place, you’ll want to start with a warmup. Go for 5 minutes, start slow, and aim for just breaking a sweat. We’re just looking to slowly ramp up your heartbeat, here. Don’t forget to include stretches, too, both for their physical and mood-boosting benefits.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, each week. They also suggest strength-training 2-3 days a week.
That would mean approximately 10 minutes of intense cardio or 20 minutes of low-level cardio daily—and that’s just your aerobic exercise. Then you’ll need 20-30 minutes of resistance training every other day or so (alternating between the major muscle groups: back, abs, upper and lower body).
It all sounds a bit complicated, right? Don’t worry, we’re going to make this very simple for you, and combine both your aerobic and strength-training needs by doing compound exercises. In other words, exercises that target both cardio and multiple muscle groups at once. Like these…
If you could only do one exercise each day, this would be it. Burpees are the all-star of compound exercises. They combine pushups, planks, and squats with explosive cardio-heavy jumps. If they’re new to you, shoot for 5-10 per set, 3 sets, resting for 30 seconds to a minute in between. Otherwise, pick a set that’s challenging for you (say 15-20), and then simply repeat it 3 times.
If burpees are a little out of your league, or you want to follow up your burpees with another compound exercise, air squats are a great place to start. They’re simple to execute and work out your butt, your calves, quads, abs, hamstrings, and more! Again, if you’re new, start with three sets of 5-10 reps (and don’t forget to rest in between sets). If you’re a veteran to squats, push yourself—you should be able to complete at least 15 reps per set, easy.
Pushups are a classic for a reason. You can easily modify them to fit your age and skill set requirements, plus they strengthen your pecs, biceps, triceps, core, upper back, and deltoids all at the same time. 3 sets, 5-10 reps for beginners, 15-30 for experienced exercisers.
Another all-body exercise that benefits your thighs, hips, glutes, calves, abs, and back, lunges are a great compound workout, especially for those wanting to add more resistance to their at-home training regime. For example, by holding a couple dumbbells or gallon water jugs while doing your usual lunges, you can really up the strength-training benefits. 3 sets, 5-10 reps for beginners, 15-30 for more veterans.
In general, your cooldown should look a lot like your warmup. Aim for light to moderate cardio—even just a 5 minute walk works—to slowly bring your heart rate back down. Again, stretching is highly recommended, too.
If you’re struggling to exercise at home and just need a little extra motivation, there are tons of digital options to get you over the hump. Mobile app stores, YouTube, and live streams on Facebook and Instagram, are all full of helpful step-by-step exercise and yoga routines you can perform at home.
Missing your gym pals? Want to support local? Chances are your favorite local gym or yoga studio is offering free online workout classes for members. So what are you waiting for—go check it out!
TRY FOR FIRST THING IN THE MORNING
Not only is it a great way to kickstart your day, but exercising in the morning might just help you stay consistent with your fitness routine. According to the American Council on Exercise, morning exercisers are more likely to stick with their workouts compared to their evening counterparts.
Thankfully, social distancing doesn’t usually forbid us from going outdoors. Outdoor workouts like jogging, hiking, biking, even just walking, gift us not only fresh air but also sunlight, which improves vitamin D levels, boosting our moods and immune systems along with it. And who among us couldn’t use some additional good vibes right now.