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How to stay in shape during the pandemic – the best tips for at-home workouts and fitness
It is no easy task to keep up with your studies, meet deadlines and stay fit during the pandemic. For students, who have plenty of stress in their lives already, it can be exhausting to try to juggle all responsibilities, but when there is a will – there is a way. It is not only possible, but more so fun to get moving and maintain a healthy lifestyle even in lockdown!
The reality for students for quite a while has included online lectures while being stuck at home, in front of a laptop. International students have had an even harder time, living in shared spaces away from home, and having to adjust to spending all their time in a small room. Repeating the same routine of getting up and staring at a screen for hours on end, day after day, can have severe effects on both physical and mental health. That is exactly why now, more than ever, it is essential to stay fit and healthy by working out at home. Exercise significantly lowers the risk of a number of diseases, causes change in antibodies and white blood cells while improving the immune system, and aids mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by enhancing self-esteem and cognitive function. In this article you will find useful tips for staying motivated and establishing a healthy workout routine at home, as well as suggestions for different kinds of exercises to try out.
Five tips for staying fit in lockdown
According to a study by the University of Trier from 2021, 60% of university students are worried about their academic performance, and about 70% are experiencing trouble focusing. It has been proven that physical activity improves concentration, motivation, memory, and mood by boosting the levels of key hormones which directly affect focus and attention. Therefore, regularly working out can significantly improve academic performance as well.
So, where do you get started?
Having the right mindset
One of the most important factors for staying on track and keeping motivation high is the initial mindset. Working out should not feel like a chore and something that needs to be pushed out of the way, but rather an enjoyable activity that adds variety to an otherwise monotonous lifestyle. For some, at-home workouts are so important that they help them stay sane in these trying times. However, self-motivation is a difficult thing to obtain even when the activity is something you love. One reason why it may be hard is that you do not see the desired progress fast enough. That could be combatted by consistently tracking your activity and setting specific goals. That being said, working out is not just about progress. Maintaining a healthy mind and body are the biggest benefits that come as a result, and should be the top priority, especially during the pandemic.
Planning in advance
Planning is key to developing and maintaining an exercise routine. When making an exercise plan, consider any ongoing health concerns, the time you have available, and your energy and stress levels. It is not unusual for students to be feeling fatigued from all the pandemic-related stress, so a good fitness strategy could include less pressure. If you are not an avid athlete and are only starting out on your health and fitness journey, the best plan could be to start easy and slowly increase the consistency and intensity of the workouts.
Introducing new activities
Student life in lockdown is boring enough, why make your workout routine repetitive as well? There are so many options to try out when exercising at home, that you could have a different activity for every day. If you are used to doing high-intensity workouts, why not slow down for a moment and try a yoga session? That way you will have an exciting time and something new to try out, while also keeping fit and staying healthy.
Resting and recharging
Yes, having a consistent workout routine is important, but so is taking a break to rest when needed. Rest days are just as essential as exercise. In fact, a successful fitness regimen is not complete without rest days. Taking regular breaks allows your body to recover and repair, which is a crucial part of progress, regardless of your fitness level or sport. A good activity for a rest day may include meditation. Meditation and deep breaths can help you remain calm and recharge your batteries for more exercise and studying. Other good alternatives are taking a walk, dancing, biking and more. Listening to your body is key – when you feel tired and low in energy, take a rest day, because pushing yourself too hard could lead to burnout.
Remember that we are in a pandemic. It is an accomplishment in itself that you want to improve your health and look after yourself, so if there is a time to pat yourself on the back, it is now. If you are struggling or not satisfied with your routine, do not beat yourself up but keep experimenting with new workouts until you find something that you enjoy. It also helps to give yourself an extra treat as a reward for sticking with a new exercise program. For example, you can call a friend, take a bubble bath, order takeaway, watch your favorite movie, or simply take a nap. Whatever you enjoy doing most will improve your mood and help you get ready for a new series of workouts and exercise.
It all sounds easier in theory than it actually is. If you are a beginner, or have been “out of the game” for a while, creating a workout routine may be quite overwhelming. And so can be trying to balance between studying, essays and projects, and staying fit. Working out does not always mean a crazy intense routine for two hours a day every day of the week. It is up to you to set the pace. In the list below you will find the best suggestions for at-home workouts that are also suitable for beginners or busy individuals.
The best options for lockdown workouts and exercises
Even if gyms are temporarily closed or with restricted capacity, there is a variety of at-home exercises that are suitable for everyone. It can even be stated that working out at home has become a pandemic fitness trend, so the options are numerous.
- Online videos
As a student watching online lectures, you are probably already spending most of your time on your personal computer. A natural move would be finding some workout videos and using them as a guide. You can test out a few workouts to find a series, program or instructor that you like, but do not exclude the option of switching it up every once in a while. The internet is full of sweat-inducing free workout videos. The great thing about them is that you can choose the difficulty level and duration – from calm and beginner-friendly to full-on hour-long HIIT, there is something out there for everyone.
- Fitness apps
Another good virtual gym buddy is your smartphone. There are quite a few fitness applications that come with a variety of features, including daily steps tracking, calorie tracking, meal plans, workout routine plans, exercise examples, countdowns, training programs, and more. Health and fitness apps make it easier to motivate, track progress, and reach your goals. The best part is that most of them are also free, with some premium features requiring a monthly subscription.
- Outdoor activities
Fresh air is vital. Unless your area is under a stay-at-home order or you need to remain in quarantine, try to exercise outside as much as possible. Take a walk, jog, or ride a bike outside – the possibilities are endless. What is more, there are a lot of studies showing that just being in nature, in the outdoors, has a lot of benefits for improving physical and mental health. Working out outside can reduce stress and increase mindfulness by immersing you in nature. It is also a much-deserved distraction from the prolonged screen time and the restriction of the four bedroom walls.
- Yoga and stretching
If you are a fan of more relaxing and less intense workouts, yoga is a great option. It incorporates breathing exercises, meditation and poses designed to encourage relaxation and reduce stress – what more could an overwhelmed student need? Apart from the mental health benefits, yoga has been proven to have positive long-term effects on the body. It may help improve heart health and reduce several risk factors for heart disease, reduce inflammation and overall improve the quality of life. In a similar way, stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is an important factor of fitness, but it can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, and more. That is even more important now, because the lockdown lifestyle is increasingly sedentary and harmful for the joints and muscles.
- Investing in at-home fitness equipment
The best part of at-home exercises is that they are generally free. However, if you want to up your game and add variety to your routine, there are cheap equipment options that you can try. Workout mats, resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, skipping ropes and more – these little helpers do not have to cost a fortune in order to be helpful and aid your workout. Overall, having gym equipment at home is a smart move. No matter your fitness level or fitness goal, whether it is to burn calories, lose weight, get your heart rate up, build muscle mass through strength training or just get healthier, investing in equipment is easier than ever. In addition, you can also go for a smart fitness tracker that helps measure your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen, monitors your sleep and counts your daily steps and calories.
You do not have to go to the gym or become a professional athlete in order to stay fit. It is more than enough to set a little time aside to be active and workout in one way or another, in order to improve your health and fitness levels.
Make it happen and achieve long-term success!
If there is a will, there is a way. Once you have found the motivation and mastered up the courage to incorporate something into your routine, it is time to maintain your pace and keep up the hard work. The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing. Going for a quick walk is better than sitting in front of the screen and doing nothing. Even if you start with small steps, you are doing a lot more for your health than by doing nothing.
If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you are unlikely to stick with it. Do not choose activities like running or lifting weights just because you think that is what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste. And set aside time to rest, too.
So, that can be considered the key to success – enjoying every one of your workouts. When you find your rhythm, get into the habit and genuinely have fun while doing it, you will no longer consider it difficult to stay motived. And that is when the results will shortly follow as well. You will achieve long-term success if you stick to one simple motto: do not forget to have fun!