It’s fair to say most of us never thought that we would be in this pandemic as long as we have been. Lowered capacities, lockdowns, increased anxiety, and depression. For a lot of us, this has been life-altering.
It’s easy to get lost and have good habits drop off, replaced with habits that in some cases are harmful to us. People have taken to self-medicating in the form of an increase in drinking, or an increase in drug consumption in various forms. It’s easy to forget that exercising makes us feel good, makes you feel so much better. A medium to hard workout can take you from a melancholy mood to an energetic mood. And you need only anywhere from 20 minutes, or longer if you dare. It’s just like the saying that 80% of the work is getting off of the couch.
With that in mind, here are some options for a workout. You won’t need any weights and you won’t need a lot of space either. Basement, living room, garage, and any other space in your house that gives you an 8′ x 8′ space to move around.
Jumping Jacks/Star Jumps: This exercise has been around forever. I actually read once that a hieroglyphic of a man in the star position was found during an archaeology dig. Legs together and arms at your side. Jump and spread your legs and bring your arms up and touch your hands at the top. Touching your hands at the top will help keep your shoulders flexible. You can do this at an easy pace to warm up, or a more sped-up pace to tax your cardio system.
Another option is to alternate between jumping jacks and high knees. Do 5 jumping jacks then 5 high knees (both legs = 1 high knee). Again, do this at the pace you need to for what you are working on; warm-up, workout.
Burpees: Standing up, jump up at the beginning if you have the ceiling height. Squat all the way down (all the way), then kick your feet back to the point your lower body and torso are in the plank position. Shoot the feet back into the squat position and back up to a standing position. You can mix it up by doing 2 kickouts (a kickout is when you are down in the squat and shoot your feet back and then in again to the squat position) instead of 1, or how about 3, or 4.
Plank: I’m a big proponent of the plank. If done correctly, it works the whole core. Laying down on your front, nice and straight, raise your body by bending your arms to 90-degree position forearms on the ground, elbows under your shoulders, and your feet should be on the balls of the feet. To help with the alignment of your hips, think of a line from your shoulder to your ankle and your hips should intersect that line.
Add some intensity by putting yourself into a bird dog position. One arm straight out in front of you as if you are pointing, and the opposite leg lifted up and straight back. Only do this if you are advanced and capable. If your shoulders, or hips rotate and are no longer parallel with the floor, it’s too hard for you. Try just the arm, or just the leg, or just stay in the standard plank position.
Another way to add difficulty is to tighten up your abs by bringing your belly button in back to your spine. Of course, your belly button will never meet the spine, but it tightens up your abs. Also, you could contract your ab muscles as if you are preparing for a punch to the stomach.
Pushups: Everyone has done pushups at some point in their life. But, you may have done them incorrectly. Most people do. Most people will do pushups with their elbows out to the side, and the hands forward of their shoulders.
Hands should be just below the shoulders, and elbows should be in, tight to the sides of your body. One more thing, have your hands rotated outwards about 20-degrees. This helps to take the strain off of your shoulders.
Other key things to remember; lower yourself until your nose almost touches the floor. This should give you roughly a 90-degree bend in your arms. NEVER go beyond 90-degrees. This can result in an injury as you are now relying more on your tendons to do the heavy lifting. Bring yourself up until your arms are straight, and keep your lower body in the plank position.
Lower your whole body, not just your upper body. People make the mistake of only moving their upper body down to the lower position, keeping their hips up too high. The body needs to move together, as one. It’s harder but it’s better.
Don’t rush either. Slow and steady wins the race. A 2 second count down, and then 2 second count up is a good cadence. Increase the difficulty by having a pause of 1 second at the bottom.
Want to make it especially difficult? Don’t lock out your arms at the top of the exercise. Keep a gentle bend as this will keep the load on the muscles, not giving them a break. You can also lower your hands to be aligned with your chest. Or you can bring your hands closer to each other. Want another variance? Raise your feet up off the ground to do a declined pushup. 25 to 30-degrees is a good angle for this.
The weather, traffic, flight delays, the pandemic are examples of things we cannot change. We have no control over these things. Stressing, getting anxious, becoming angry will not change these things. But it will change you, and not for the better.
However, you can change how you react to these things. The flight is delayed? More time to read, catch up on emails, listen to a podcast. It can be hard to change this behavior. It’s just like muscle memory, it needs to be retrained. But, by doing this you are not putting yourself into the fight/flight response which if not addressed (exercise takes care of this) will do harm to your body, aging, and damaging cells.
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is today.
Yours in health,