Ideas to help maintain your muscle tone and immune system while gyms are closed.
If you normally depend on a gym or fitness studio for exercise and sanity, working from home can feel like an obstacle to well-being. But remember: Darwin taught us the species that survive are not the strongest or the smartest, but the most adaptable.
In addition to boosting fitness and adaptability, finding new ways to exercise when you’re homebound also boosts your immune response—and that matters now more than ever. Here are few tips to help you stay strong and resilient:
Adopt athletic wear as your daily work uniform. Being dressed for action helps put you in the mindset of doing something active every day. It also equips you for incidental exercise—which you can do in a few minutes before a call or when you just need a change of pace. It all adds up.
Avoid thinking it’s “all-or-nothing.” Doing something can matter less than what you do. When I ask my gym buddies what they’re doing now, a surprising number of weight-lifters replied, “Just walking and hiking.” Luckily, you can use your body weight to do plenty of challenging strength exercises—and investing in a pair of light dumbbells or inexpensive set of resistance bands gives you even more options.
Embrace the opportunity. Your new work mode might be pushing you to do what experts say you should do anyway: shift your training routine to keep challenging your body. If you’ve used heavier weights and fewer reps in the past, you might try doing sets of 30 or 40 with just your body weight. Another way to keep progressing is to shift your emphasis from strength to other facets of fitness—like flexibility, balance, or endurance. Burpees, anyone?
Find your own rhythm. Exercising regularly is a matter of habit. So, what is your new habit? You might prefer to work out first thing, fueling your day with a shot of energy and endorphins. Or you might decompress at the end of the workday, or even sprinkle short exercises throughout. It’s all good. I now take a 40-minute mid-day break for a full-body workout or a fast walk up the ridge behind my studio. Beyond being a good break for the eyes and brain, it’s often the time when creative ideas pop into my head. Lunch after is my reward, and then I’m ready for another burst of productivity. If the day is jammed, I try to knock off in time to take a hike after work.
Consider a standing desk. You’ll avoid chronically tight hips and that stiff, sluggish feeling that comes from spending hours sitting. With a standing desk and phone headset, you can move around, stretch, or do a couple squats while on a conference call or mulling something over. Products like the VariDesk make it easy to convert a table or traditional desk to a standing workstation. I cobbled together an inexpensive DIY solution with a coffee table, two brackets, and a shelf for my keyboard. (Just make sure to measure carefully to make sure you get the ergonomics right.)
One last thought for when this is over: When you do get back to the gym, don’t go straight back to your old routine. Why risk an injury that could sideline you for weeks or months? Use lower weights and less intensity for the first two or three weeks, giving your body a chance to adapt all over again.
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5 Ways to Keep Moving