Living amid a raging global pandemic is challenging our lifestyles in unprecedented ways. The “new normal” catchphrase has permeated into our lives when talking of work, dining out, social events, gatherings and also health and fitness. In the wake of rising infection rates and impending lockdowns it is becoming increasingly difficult to stick to daily exercise regimens like working out at the gym, walking in the park, cycling or going for a swim. How does one deal with this and what can you do to stay fit through it all?
Micro-HIIT Workouts: Less Can Be More
Working out at home has become the most feasible option for many people but we are all too well aware of the challenges associated with setting aside quality time for this amidst all the cooking, cleaning, family duties and enthusiastic kids and pets who like to participate in your workout! If this sounds familiar, then micro-HIIT workouts might be something you’d like to try out.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where you engage in an high-intensity activity followed by periods of active rest, in short bursts, can actually do more for your fitness than skipping rope or running on a treadmill for one hour. Micro-HIIT workouts can range anywhere from 3 minutes to 20 minutes (the recommended maximum time is three times a week)1. Research suggests that even a quick 11-minute workout that contains a full minute of high-intensity, all-out effort might deliver the same benefit as engaging in a 50-minute, moderately-paced workout2. It is also a highly adaptable form of exercise for varying fitness levels and goals which can work for top athletes as well as for someone who’s never engaged in regular exercise. There are many micro-HIIT apps and workout videos online to get you started to help you live a healthier, longer, better life.
Strength Training: It’s Not Just for Body Builders
Fitness and weight loss are often associated with hours of intense aerobic exercise which is now becoming increasingly difficult to do with limited access to gyms and parks. However, most still prefer what’s comfortable such as walking or jogging (even if it’s down the lane) and shy away from strength training. No matter your age or athletic ability, strength training has many health benefits including aiding in weight loss, increased flexibility and mobility and also to help lower risk of injury while improving muscle strength. There’s even research to show that relatively brief, intense doses of muscular training may actually be able to build cardiovascular fitness about as well as steady-state aerobic exercises like running3.
You can engage in basic strength training at home and it can take you less than 10 minutes to complete a full-body strength-building workout4. You don’t necessarily need heavy weights for strength training. Instead, you can use your own bodyweight and engage in exercises like bodyweight squats, push-ups, mountain climbers, planks, split squats, leg raises and so on. Sounds unfamiliar? A simple search on YouTube will generate many step-by-step strength training workout videos which show you exactly how to do them without hurting yourself.
Eye Yoga and the 20-20-20 Rule
Technology has saved us in a big way during the pandemic by enabling us to continue our work and keep in touch with everyone despite the social distancing. But it has also resulted in many of us spending far too much time stuck in front of screens, both large and small. ‘A recent survey by the College of Optometrists (London) found that one in five adults believe their eyesight has deteriorated during lockdown, with one in three blaming spending too much time in front of screens. It’s also been observed that symptoms of eyestrain, headaches, loss of focus, dry irritated eyes and, neck and shoulder pain are all symptoms that have seemingly increased since the start of the pandemic’1.
Eye Yoga may sound far-fetched but in reality, your eyes too, just like the rest of your body, have muscles which need exercise to release tension. ‘The simplest technique is to look up, look sideways left and right and downwards and repeat each exercise 10 times’1. Other exercises worth checking out include focus shifting, eye rolling and palming5. The next time your eyes feel tired, instead of squishing them with your hands as is customary, look away from the screen and try some Eye Yoga. But if you’re hard-pressed for time and need a quick fix, try the ‘20-20-20 Rule’ – which is as simple as ‘looking away at something that is 20 feet away from you for a total of 20 seconds for every 20 minutes spent using a screen’6.
Here’s hoping that these fitness hacks will lead you to a healthier, longer, better life in 2021!
1. https://www.elle.com/uk/life-and culture/culture/longform/a41063/fitness-trends-gym-classes-workout/
3. https://www.painscience.com/articles/strength-training frequency.php#:~:text=Strength%20training%20is%20not%20just%20for%20bodybuilders.,too%2C%20by%20the%20way).