By Matt Evans
When you're stuck back in lockdown again without the gym, it can be difficult to fit exercise into your everyday life – especially when the days are getting colder and darker. In winter, we're much less likely to go for a run or do exercise outdoors, which in lockdown, means we're not getting very much exercise at all. For cardio junkies, the best treadmill or best exercise bike have been invaluable, while for resistance training, the best adjustable dumbbells have never been more popular.
But even while you wait for your treadmill to arrive in the post, there's still plenty of ways to fit exercise into your day. To start with, never feel as though you don't have enough time to do exercise: one study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found even five minutes of running at slow speeds is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease.
If you can exercise even gently for a few minutes to improve your health, there's no excuse not to fit these "micro workouts" into your day to break up your monotonous lockdown routine.
These small workouts can taken various different forms. For example, ActivBody, creators of the pocket gym strength training device Activ5, have shared their take on the "30/30 desk challenge", designed for people now working from home. Put simply, pick two exercises, such as push ups and squats, and crank out 30 reps of each every 30 minutes. Get creative with a new choice every day, or choose one particular exercise to improve.
These short bursts of exercises are easy to fit into your day, take just a couple of minutes to complete and eventually, you accumulate a great deal of calories burned. In addition, one study reported by Medical News Today found we should be moving every 30 minutes, as prolonged sitting has long been known as a predicator of all-causes mortality.
Simple bodyweight exercises are ideal for burning fat and building muscle from the comfort of your own home. One study found there was no significant difference, performance and motivation-wise, between those who work out in the gym and those who work out at home.
In addition, most bodyweight exercises are compound movements, which work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Push ups, for example, work muscles in the chest, arms, shoulders and core, with other variations able to work different groups beyond that.
With much of the UK and France back in lockdown again and other parts of the world in a continuous state of flux, the global health crisis is in full swing despite the acceleration of vaccination programmes.
One of the best ways to avoid lockdown weight gain is by paying close attention to our diets, and following the weight loss diet rule you need to follow during lockdown. You can also stay fit by using some more of the following micro-workouts, to switch up your home workout routine:
- Watching TV? Try and hold an isometric move, such as a plank or deep squat, for the duration of a commercial break.
- You can do squat-thrusters with a wheeled office chair. Place your hands in a push-up position on the floor, and slide your feet in so your knees are tucked into your chest. Slide your feet back to a push-up position, and repeat for one minute.
- You can do Russian twists – a variation on the bicycle crunch – while holding a heavy book instead of a weight-plate or medicine ball.
- Try the Bring Sally Up push-up challenge, which takes just a few minutes but is notoriously difficult to finish.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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