The gyms are closed, many fitness classes are cancelled (though some are available online) so it can be easy to just sit on your couch with Netflix and a joint. But exercise is important for both our physical and mental health. But let’s be real, exercising at home can be challenging. So, here are some tips for at home workouts during isolation. We will try to include something for everyone here. But before we even jump into tips about the ways we can convert our exercise routine into an at home workout, let’s talk about workout motivation.
Social isolation is challenging and can have a significant impact on our mental health, so it’s easy to come up with numerous excuses – even if we genuinely want to workout.
So, how can we get and maintain the motivation?
- Make a schedule. Write down which days you want to exercise and which workouts you’re going to complete. It can also help to commit to a time that works for you.
- Stick to your schedule. You made the schedule so do yourself a service and commit to it. If you need to bring someone else into the equation to help you stick to it that’s okay. Have a workout buddy who is also working out at home.
- Make a dedicated space for working out (if you can). It can help you get into the workout mode if your workout area is already set up for working out.
- Dress for success. You’re more likely to actually complete your workout if you’re in your workout clothes. So, if you’re a morning workout person throw on that yoga gear first thing in the morning and it will be easier to exercise right after you’ve had your coffee.
- Find a workout you enjoy. To be motivated to exercise you’ll want to find something you’ll actually do. Not everyone enjoys running, lifting weights or yoga but there are so many ways to be active, find what works best for you.
- Give yourself a reward. Knowing you’ll reward yourself for completing the task will help motivate you to do it. Ideally, your reward would be something healthy but honestly whatever works. Maybe treat yourself with your favourite homemade edibles.
- Start small. Tell yourself you’ll start with just half of what you normally do. Do half your yoga routine or only push-ups instead of your entire workout. Chances are once you start you’ll do more than you planned, and if you don’t at least you did something.
Consider how cannabis can be a motivator (and help reduce anxiety) for working out. Read more about using cannabis as a pre-workout and how to use it safely. Please use responsibly.
At Home Workouts During Isolation
There are many ways we can add movement and exercise into our days, even if we aren’t prepared or are unable to do intense workouts. At home workouts during isolation don’t have to be too challenging (but do push yourself). Here are a few good places to start:
During periods of high stress, our bodies get tense so take some time to be conscious of where you hold your tension and stretch. This can be as simple as reminding yourself to unclench your jaw and let your shoulders drop – and this is a great place to start, particularly if you’re newer to yoga.
Looking for a place to start? There are many great YouTube videos that can help you get started with basic yoga practice. Been doing yoga for a while? If you have video recommendations for beginners leave them in the comments.
Yoga also pairs well with cannabis and mindfulness practices- both of which can help with anxiety during this time.
When we’re left with nowhere to go it’s easy for our lives to become sedentary and not only is this not good for our health but discourages us from exercising. So, it’s important to get up throughout the day and move around. Work from home? Consider taking your call standing up, or walk around the house.
If you choose to go for a run or walk outside ensure to observe the social distancing guidelines of 6ft and avoid populated areas.
There are also some other cardio activities you can do at home; for example, jumping jacks, burpees (don’t we all love those?), or dance. Dance can be a particularly fun and light-hearted way to add movement into your day. Put on your favourite music and have a one-minute dance party.
3 Bodyweight/Creative home weight exercise
There are many ways to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your at home workout during isolation. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Support your forearms firmly on the ground, with the elbows under the shoulders. Keep the hips at the level of the head. Hold for 20–30 seconds (or more, if possible), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times.
- This exercise strengthens your belly, arms and legs.
- Thinking about a push-up as a moving plank is actually really helpful. Position your hands shoulder-width apart, or a little bit wider. As you bend your elbows and lower toward the ground, your elbows should be at about a 45-degree angle to your body, Pak says. Your fingers should be splayed, with your middle fingers pointing toward 12 o’clock. Remember
- This exercise strengthens your upper body; chest, deltoids, arms as well as the core.
- If you’re unable to do a full push up, that’s okay. Try one of these modified push-ups instead.
- Squats/wall sits
- Squats: Place your feet at hip distance with the toes pointing slightly outwards. Bend the knees as much as feels comfortable, keeping the heels on the ground and the knees over (not in front of) the feet. Bend and stretch the legs. Perform this exercise 10–15 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times.
- Wall sits: Get into a squat position with you back up against a wall. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute (or longer if you can)
- This exercise strengthens your legs and glutes.
- Leg Lifts
- Place your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift one leg back, alternating sides. Perform this exercise 20–30 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times.
- This exercise strengthens your belly, glutes and back muscles.
- Chair dips
- Hold onto the seat of a chair, with your feet about half a meter away from the chair. Bend your arms as you lower your hips to the ground, then straighten the arms. Perform this exercise 10–15 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times.
- This exercise strengthens your triceps.
Remember to just do what you can and push yourself to do slightly more the next week.
If you’re looking for a full-body workout with weights but don’t have the equipment at home, here are some creative ways to at weights into your workout at home during isolation.
Upper Body Weighted At Home Workouts
- Shoulder Press
- Sit on a chair holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with your palms facing away from you. Keep your chest up and your core braced, and look straight forward throughout the move. Press the weights directly upwards until your arms are straight and the weights touch above your head.
- At-home version: Find two objects that weigh the same. For smaller weights consider using a soup can or other object that fits comfortably in your hand (don’t want to worry about dropping it). For heavier weights consider something with a handle like Costco sized barbeque sauce.
- Bicep Curls
- Stand with feet hip-distance apart. (1) Start by holding the weights down next to the sides of your legs with arms fully extended, a slight bend in the elbow and palms facing forward. (2) Bend your elbows and curl your dumbbells up to your shoulders, make sure you curl all the way to the top. (3) Lower the weights back down making sure to straighten your arms until they are next to your legs where you started.
- At-home version: Consider using a milk jug with a handle, you can always adjust the weight by adjusting the amount of liquid in the jug. If you only have one judge do each are separate. Ideally, they’d be empty and you could refill them with water but if they still have milk in them make sure not to keep them out of the fridge too long.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and lean forward from the waist. Your knees should be bent, but your back stays straight, with your neck in line with your spine. Grab the bar with your hands (palms-down), just wider than shoulder-width apart and let it hang with your arms straight.
- Brace your core and squeeze your shoulders together to row the weight up until it touches your sternum, then slowly lower it back down again. Repeat for four sets of eight to 10 reps.
- At-home version: Consider using objects that have a handle on the top for this exercise. For example; paint cans
Lower Body Weighted At Home Workouts
- Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up (pick a point to stare at in front of you so you don’t keep looking down). Always engage your core.
- Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.
- Lunges can be done with or without added weights. If you want to add weight you can hold onto something weighted like cans or jugs but some people find that this affects their balance. So, consider adding some heavy books to a backpack and wearing it while you do lunges.
- If you’re improving at squats, or simply need more of an exercise than bodyweight, bring in your milk jug! Hold the jug firmly in front of your chest while you perform your squats.
Don’t forget your core!
Yes, both plank and push-ups engage your core, but many people don’t like those workouts. Here are some core alternatives.
- Basic Crunches/Sit Ups
- Plank Movement
- There are many ways to add movement into your plank routine, one option pictured below. For this version start in a push-up position and alternate bringing each knee forward. Aim to do 10 each leg.
- Plank shoulder tap: Start in a push-up position and alternate bringing each arm up across your chest and tapping your shoulder. Aim to do 10 each arm.
- Plank walk: Start in a push-up position, ‘walk’ one direction by stepping one arm and one leg together then bringing the other arm and leg in the same direction so you’re back to your starting position. Maintain the plank position the entire time. Then do the same movement in the other direction.
- Side Plank
- Forearm side plank by propping your body up on your left forearm, with your elbow stacked underneath your shoulder and your hand in front of your body. Extend your legs and stack your right foot on top of your left, and then squeeze your abs and glutes to lift your hips off the floor.
- Russian Twists
- Start in a seated position with your legs bent and your feet on the floor. Lean back slightly until your core is engaged (see photo below). You can also lift your feet off the floor or leave them on the floor for now. Keep your hands together (it can be helpful to hold onto a ball -it doesn’t have to be heavy) and twist your torso side to side so your hands, or the ball, touch the floor beside you.
- Bicycle Crunches
- Lie faceup with your legs in a tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips). Place your hands behind your head, elbows bent and pointing out to the sides. Use your abs to curl your shoulders off the floor. This is the starting position.
- Twist to bring your right elbow to your left knee, while simultaneously straightening your right leg.
- Then, twist to bring your left elbow to your right knee, simultaneously straightening your left leg.
Don’t forget workout recovery
Make sure to take care of your body post-workout by rehydrating, stretching your body, eating healthy, sleeping well, and using cannabis.
Cannabis, particularly CBD, can be used in many ways for post-workout recovery. One of the best ways to use cannabis for recovery is topicals. The advantage of cannabis topicals is that you can apply them directly to the site of the pain or discomfort. Also, using THC topically gives you all the benefits of cannabis for pain, muscle relaxation, and inflammation without getting you high.
You can even infuse THC into your bath routine, with THC bath bombs. Baths are often a to-go for self-care and relaxation post-workout and combining that with the soothing feelings of cannabis is a perfect fit.
Exercise and staying moving is important for both our physical and mental wellness, but with social distancing in effect and the gyms closed that can be challenging. It can be particularly difficult to motivate yourself to workout when watching Netflix and smoking a joint is so much more appealing. But schedule working out into your day and commit to doing one small thing every day and your body- and your brain- will thank you.