Many of us took lockdown as a time to relax and watch all the shows we previously didn't have time for. Others have used this time for activities including writing, drawing or completing online courses. Undoubtedly COVID-19 has caused a huge shift in nationwide behaviour. This behavioural shift has resulted in changes in activity level. Although 40% of 18-24-year olds agree that they have been more physically active since lockdown, overall physical activity in the UK has decreased by a quarter, with a third of adults reporting weight gain.
It is already common knowledge that physical inactivity has negative implications on health. These consequences are not only physical but also psychological, particularly if a lot of your time is being spent indoors. The benefits of physical exercises are numerous and include: releasing endorphins, reducing stress levels, improving sleep, reducing joint pain, and improving cardiovascular activity. It may be hard to find the motivation to keep physical activity up during and after lockdown, and exercise may not seem like the most pressing matter to you during a global pandemic. Despite this, you may find that upkeeping even ten minutes a day will help you feel better able to cope with the stress you may be feeling during this time. A small increase in activity is great, however, the more activity you are able to keep up, the more benefits you will feel.
Now is a better time than ever to take advantage of free exercise classes online. These classes can be found on YouTube, Instagram, and on personal training websites. Here are 5 exercises that can be done at home without any exercise equipment. If you have been inactive for a while, it may be better to search for an ‘easy’ or ‘beginners’ class.
- Posture exercises. Spending a lot of time on a computer, in bed, or watching TV can cause bad posture. Hunching over for prolonged periods can cause tension in the neck, back, knees and hips. This tension can be improved using muscle strengthening posture exercises. Posture exercises focus on strengthening the back, neck and core muscles. These exercises are usually slow and low impact, great for all ages.
- Cardio or dance exercises. Exercises such as Pilates, HIIT, and boot camp classes are great examples of cardio exercises. Cardio can be tiring but brings with it many health benefits. Cardio exercises strengthen the heart and blood vessels, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. If you seek a fun way to improve wellbeing that doesn’t keep you looking at the clock, online dance classes may be for you. Dance gives similar benefits to cardio classes including stress reduction.
- Weight and resistance exercise. These exercises focus primarily on building muscle. Resistance training is great for improving strength and protecting your muscles and joints from injury. Although most gyms are currently shut, there are still many ways to get creative at home with resistance exercises. Many types of weight and resistance exercises can be done without equipment, using your own body weight to isolate muscle groups.
- Yoga. The benefits of yoga are numerous. This form of exercise is great for muscle strength, cardiovascular activity, and posture. Yoga is great for reducing stress, especially if you can follow the breathing techniques correctly. Yoga is a low impact activity, great for all ages.
- Walking and running. Prior to lockdown you may have had higher activity levels just from leaving the house to see friends or run errands. Now that lockdown has inhibited this activity, it is worthwhile to go for a walk or a run. Walking and running are cardio workouts, meaning they are great for the heart. However, you may find that a walk or a run is lower impact than a dance or boot camp class. A walk or run outside may also help increase your vitamin D levels which suffer from staying indoors.
You may be surprised to know that you can increase your physical activity levels without exercise. Household chores including cooking, cleaning and gardening are great ways to stay more active during the day whilst staying productive, especially as in the near future, and possibly into 2021, we will all be staying home more as we adjust to a new normal.
Written by Olivia Rolland for Qured.
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