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India - as well as many other countries - have ground to a halt thanks to unprecedented restrictions on the movement of people, to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by a novel strain of the coronavirus infection called SARS-CoV-2. 

The 21-day lockdown announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March 2020 has led to the shutting down of all public spaces and gatherings, and cancellation of large-scale public events. Offices, restaurants, shops, malls, theatres, museums and several other public spaces have been mandated to be shut down for this period to counter the infection which has now spread across the world, infecting more than a million people and killing over 53,000.

Gyms and fitness centres have been some of those spaces that have been hit by the outbreak of the COVID-19 infection, but that shouldn’t stop you from carrying out your fitness routine at home. A gym may provide a great environment to workout everyday, but it is also one of the places where chances of infection are high.

Those used to a fitness routine may be feeling helpless due to the restrictions, as one cannot venture out for their daily dose of running, walking, cycling or swimming outside, or even do the various exercises in a gym. However, home workouts are being promoted as a way to remain fit, stay in a healthy routine and continue to motivate yourself by eating healthy, while remaining indoors.

Remaining healthy and fit also boosts the immunity levels in your body while keeping infections and illnesses away. Fitness instructors the world over have taken to conducting training sessions online and through video, continuing to motivate you while you stay at home. You can also download various fitness apps on your smartphone to follow workouts and track your progress.

Even if you do not have fitness equipment at home, bodyweight exercises are easy, accessible to everyone and can be performed anywhere, including the confines of your own home. And even if you do not have a yoga mat with you, you can repurpose some mattress or place carpets underneath to cushion yourself.

Bodyweight exercise circuits can be performed to sets and repetitions as well as time as per your convenience and comfort. However, do remember to practice warm-up exercises before getting into your workout mode and loosen up the muscles, and a routine of stretching movements to end the day with.

If you’re a beginner, start by doing one round of exercises in one round with 30-second breaks in between each exercise. A full-body workout just with your bodyweight can be completed in just 15-20 minutes, and the intensity can be increased according to your levels of strength and endurance.

  1. On-the-spot-running
  2. Jumping jacks
  3. Push-ups
  4. Reverse lunges
  5. Side planks
  6. Cross-arm crunches
  7. Squats
  8. Tricep dips
  9. Skipping rope
  10. Planks
  11. Takeaways
  12. Is it safe to exercise with a mask on?

Keep the knees high and keep it slow to begin with. You can continue running on the spot for about 20-30 seconds to begin with, and gradually increase the duration as you go along, and rest for 30 seconds after finishing.

One of the popular warm-up exercises, jumping jacks are great at raising your heart rate as well as loosening up the muscles in your arms as well as legs. Jump on the spot and spread the legs wide while stretching your arms over your head. Continue for about 20-30 seconds and rest for another 30.

If you find push-ups too difficult to perform, place your knees on the ground to make it easier. You can begin with 5-8 push-ups and increase gradually, and rest for 30 seconds afterwards.

Steps

  • Lie down on your stomach and place the hands underneath your shoulders, planting them on the floor.
  • Extend your arms to lift your body up straight so that only your palms and toes are touching the mat.
  • Ensure that your body is in a straight line from the head to the feet.
  • Lower your body by bending the elbows to the lowest you can go without touching the floor, and push yourself back up for a second repetition.

Do the reverse variation of the lunges - there is seldom space at home to perform walking lunges across the living room - by taking one leg behind and bending both at 90-degree angles, then return and repeat with the other leg for five repetitions on each leg. Rest for 30 seconds.

Side planks are quite difficult to master as compared to the conventional planks, but are great to tone the core muscles towards the side of the body as well as the obliques. Lie down on your side with one leg over the other and prop yourself up on the arm you’re lying down on. Hold the pose for 20 seconds each side to begin with and increase from there.

Crunches of all kinds are beneficial for the body, especially at times when you are not getting sufficient cardiovascular activity to burn the fat that gets stored in the stomach region. Lie down with your knees bent and feet on the floor, and put your arms across your chest. Lift your upper body halfway and breathe out. You can begin with 15 repetitions of these.

Bodyweight squats are great to keep the blood in your legs flowing and keep the lower half of the body in good shape and form. Stand straight and stretch your hands out in front. Bend your knees and drop down into a squat while keeping the back straight. Do about 10 repetitions to begin with.

Sit on a chair, a bench or the edge of a bed and place your hands on the edge. Slide your body away from the bench and anchor your feet straight. Keep the back straight and bend your elbows behind you to lower the body towards the ground, and straighten them back to get back up for 10 repetitions.

Skipping rope is a great cardiovascular workout and burns a lot of calories, more than brisk walking or jogging as well. If you don’t have a rope, just jump on the spot without it. Rest for 30 seconds afterwards.

One of the better exercises to finish your workout on, planks are excellent in strengthening the core muscles and lending stability, balance and strength to the body. Lie down on your stomach and prop your body up on your arms and elbows, keeping a straight line from the head to the heels. Keep breathing normally and hold the position for about 30 seconds, or longer if you can.

After finishing this circuit, you can just lie down, perform some static stretching exercises like bhujangasana or the cobra pose, stretching your hamstrings and back by doing some knees-to-chest routines and stretch out your arms as well.

The routine contains a long list of exercises that can be broken into several parts as well to constitute an even shorter workout, which will be even less time-consuming. You can also increase them based on your fitness levels by re-doing the exercises for another round or two.

Living indoors for long durations can also have an effect on your mental health, and it is important to continue some form of physical activity to continue feeling positive. Yoga is also beneficial in this regard as is meditation to encourage positive thoughts. Choosing the right time to exercise, as well as eating meals on time also go a long way in maintaining the same fitness levels as you would with access to a gym.

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References

  1. Zhu W. Should, and how can, exercise be done during a coronavirus outbreak? An interview with Dr. Jeffrey A. Woods. Journal of Sport and Health Science. 2020 Mar; 9(2): 105–107. PMID: 32099717.
  2. Health Harvard Publishing: Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Harvard University, Cambridge. Massachusetts. USA; Coronavirus Resource Center..
  3. American College of Sports Medicine. [Internet] Indianapolis, IN, USA. Staying Physically Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
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