While millions of us are working from home, far fewer of us are taking the time to work out from home. If you were to ask me, I’d say that working in a workout is actually much more difficult than perfecting the ideal home office set up, but of course I don’t have young kids to entertain and educate, either. I’m at the point now where I’m really missing the sweat of my next-bike neighbor hitting me in the face at SoulCycle, and my favorite Orange Theory instructor’s dulcet screams helping me make it through another round of jump squats.
I’ve tried to make it work myself, alone in my living room with a crappy selection of hand weights from Amazon and running sneakers that are giving me calluses… No surprise, I’ve been feeling discouraged, but I know I’ve got to work out if I want to keep my endorphins up. I decided to consult an expert on how best to push through, and I’m not keeping her secrets to myself. Jillian Michaels, health and fitness expert and creator of the Jillian Michaels Fitness App lays out all you need to know about sweating out your stress and working out from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Anything is better than nothing. Just getting that start and increasing your heart rate can do wonders for your mind and your body. Try not to think of it as work, but rather a break or an escape from the at-home boredom you’re probably facing. It’s an excuse to log off of devices and connect with yourself while lowering your levels of stress and keeping your physical body healthy.
- Treat this like your normal regimen. Even though it might feel far from normal, do what you can to treat your workouts like you would your normal gym routine. That means exercising 4 times a week for 20-30 minutes each day, says Michaels. If you can’t get to 4 days a week, try for 3. But if you’re feeling like an overachiever, be sure to work in at least one day of rest per week.
- The type of exercise doesn’t matter. There is no “best” workout you can do from home. Rather, you have to do what works for you. I am a goal oriented person, so I like to set a goal for myself that I can work toward in a fixed period of time. If that doesn’t motivate you, find something that does, like a buddy you can FaceTime as you hold planks and work on your pushups together.
- Cliches are cliches for a reason. Yep — you’ve heard it all before. If you’re looking for some inspo, Michaels suggests doing pushups, planks, supermans, lunges, squats, burpees, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers in your living room or in the backyard. They “work perfectly despite how obvious they are,” she says.
- Personal trainer approved. Workout classes, gyms, and trainers are posting their favorite workouts online (and some for free!) for you to do from home. Michaels’ app has plenty of workouts you can access and power through. When you feel ready for something a little more than just the basics, find a class you love and tune in. You can do kickboxing, yoga, pilates, weight training, and HIIT training easily without being in the gym.
- Bang for your buck. If you’re looking to burn baby burn, focus on HIIT intervals and circuit training. Not only will you shed calories, but you’ll strengthen your cardiovascular system at the same time, says Michaels. Plus, they’re tons of fun and will leave you feeling really accomplished.
- Too easy? Time for a change. Be sure to track your progress. If your workout is starting to get too easy, it’s time to switch it up. Trade your weights for something a little heavier or make the switch to a different type of workout all together. Michaels recommends changing your pace every 2 weeks so you avoid plateau and really get the results you want.
- Keep it fresh. Changing the type of workout you do every day is important. It will keep your body burning calories and keep your brain from burning out. You’ll be more excited to try something new rather than return to the same thing you’ve been doing all week. Plus, you’ll be working on multiple different aspects of fitness at the same time.
While staying in good shape is important, it’s arguably not the most important reason to stay active during quarantine. Studies on quarantine have shown that isolation can negatively impact mental health, and one of the main counters experts recommend is exercise.
“All exercise helps to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and combat depression,” explains Michaels. “This is because exercise in general helps to release feel-good chemicals in the brain called endorphins.” Aside from the endorphins, daily exercise will help you feel like you’re taking care of yourself, which can lift your spirits and “increase [your] sense of well being,” she adds.
This all happens thanks to a course I did not take in college — biochemistry. Michaels broke it down for me: “Exercise helps to reduce stress hormones and increase the body’s mood elevators like endorphins and serotonin. Plus, fitness helps to reduce fatigue and increase energy levels, fend off disease, build a sense of confidence and accomplishment, and make us more confident in our physique. All of these things reduce stress immediately and over time.”
But of course none of this knowledge makes getting off the couch any easier. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the idea of an in depth daily practice, Michaels recommends micro-workouts during the day, which are 5-10 minute mini exercise classes designed to get you up and moving without committing to a lengthier event. And of course if you don’t feel like breaking a sweat one day, that’s fine too. You can spend some time focusing on healthy eating and working meditation into your daily routine.
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