We are living in strange times and, as creatures of habit, many of us are struggling to come to terms with our routines being rocked by the spread of coronavirus.
Fitness regimes may have taken a back seat in recent days – and understandably so. Jobs are being lost on an unprecedented scale and fear of catching the dreaded Covid-19 is keeping people behind closed doors.
But as we come to terms with our new reality, it is important to look after both our mental and physical wellbeing. That means taking the time to exercise regularly, something that has been proven to reduce stress levels and release endorphins that make us feel good. And, of course, it keeps us healthy.
So, don’t be afraid to head out for a walk or a run, while maintaining social distancing. Until we are told otherwise, we should take any opportunity to get some fresh air.
You can turn your house into a personal gym too, by performing a variety of body weight exercises. If you have equipment such as a pull-up bar or dumbbells, incorporate them into your workout too.
And if you have children, why not get them involved?
Here is buzz.ie’s ultimate guide to keeping the family in shape and, more importantly, keeping the kids from going stir crazy!
These are 12 exercises that you can do at home. And a big shout-out to my two girls Aoibhinn (4) and Caoimhe (6 months), and wife-turned-photographer Tara, for their help.
1. PUSH UPS
Firstly there’s the beginner’s push-up – hands and knees on the ground, hands a little more than shoulder-width apart, lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, and then push yourself back up.
For the advanced push-up, repeat the above, but with your legs straight.
Then for the expert, try a weighted push-up by wearing a weighted vest – or by getting your child to climb on your back!
Be sure to have a soft surface either side of you, just in case they slip.
Aoibhinn is demonstrating the beginner lunge. Keep your upper body straight, shoulders back and pick something in front of you to focus on.
Step forward with one leg until both knees are bent at 90 degree angles.
If that’s too easy, you can again add some resistance. And that’s where Caoimhe comes in!
3. SIT UPS
There are plenty of variations to the trusty old sit-up, but Aoibhinn’s favourite is the bicycle sit-up.
This one hits not just the abs, but also the obliques. Touch your right knee with your left elbow and left knee with your right elbow.
To perform a bodyweight squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your back in a neutral position and your chest out.
Bend your knees, as if you are going to sit in a chair, and move your hips back.
When you are confident enough to add some resistance, why not ask your four-year-old to climb up onto your back!
5. RUSSIAN TWISTS
Where I would usually do this one in the gym with a medicine ball, Caoimhe provides the resistance in our little home gym set-up.
If you are new to this exercise, be sure to check out a few videos on YouTube for the correct method.
You are basically balancing on your bum, with your body in a v-shape, twisting from side to side and hitting all the important core muscles.
All you need for this one are two kitchen chairs of the same height, far enough apart that you can fit between them.
Place your palms face down at the front of the seat, arms straight, and then bend your elbows until your bum is almost touching the ground.
Be sure to keep your legs straight at all times.
7. STAR JUMPS
Now we are into the cardio part of your home workout – and this is where the kids really have fun.
Star jumps are a great way to get your heart pumping.
Stand with feet together and arms by your side, then jump, pushing your feet out so that they are nice and wide when you land and throwing your arms above your head, before returning to the starting position.
Repeat as often as possible and at as high a tempo as possible – or set yourself a challenge of seeing how many you can do in a minute.
8. HIGH KNEES
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands out in front of you with elbows bent at a 90 degree angle.
As you run on the spot, lift your knees so that they touch your hands.
9. HEEL TOUCH
Running on the spot again but, this time with your arms behind you, raise your heels high enough that they touch your fingers.
10. RUNNING ON THE SPOT
Straight forward enough – and something for the avid jogger in the event that we are ordered to remain indoors for all but essential shopping.
If you have a fitness tracking watch, why not set it to ‘treadmill’ mode and see how far you get in a certain time (one-minute sprints etc).
11. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
This is a great all-rounder – a massive cardio hit and a great core workout.
Get into press-up position, arms and legs straight, and try to get your shoulders, hips and feet in a straight line.
Lift one knee in towards your chest, return to the starting position and then move your other knee in towards your chest. Repeat.
You can perform this exercise at a high tempo to get the heart racing.
Try three x 30 seconds, with short rests in between, and be amazed at how quickly you can work up a sweat.
There are variations to mountain climbers, including bringing your right knee towards your left arm and vice-versa. This cross-body exercise works the obliques.
The dreaded burpees is a real lung-buster – and it’s the perfect finisher to any session.
Drop to the ground, as if you are at the midway point of a push-up, then spring back to your feet and jump, before dropping to the ground again and repeating.
Do as many as you can and with each session see if you can add a few more burpees to your routine.
Don’t forget to look out for light shades when you jump!