6 Min ReadHealth 01 April 2020
Gyms and workout studios are closing across the nation.
People are being asked to stay at home in order to slow the further spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 (coronavirus). And for good reason; the gym is a well-known and populated place where germs can be easily spread. A new study has shown that the coronavirus can live on surfaces — those popular free weights, cable machines, treadmills, and floor mats — for up to three days, so your sweat towel is not going to do the job.
And between all of the excessive hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial purchasing, fears of contracting the virus have many people on edge — the combination of breaking news and misinformation on social media is enough to put anyone in a state of panic, stress, or depression (or all of the above). Thankfully, many are taking the government's requests to practice social distancing very seriously, and while the unknown and a drastic change in lifestyle can be quite stressful, I have a proposal. While we continue to be vigilant to not spread this disease further, use this time at home for more self-care and to focus on (or adopt) a fitness routine.
Benefits of Exercise
The body's natural release of endorphins is enhanced during bouts of physical activity, and this surge in "happy" hormones can boost your mood, your confidence, and help reduce your levels of stress and anxiety.
Along with what we eat, where we live, how much we sleep, and even who we live with — exercise also causes chemical reactions that can alter our health status. Regular exercise has been linked to improved heart health, improved bone density, improved joint mobility, improved cognition, improved mood, enhanced metabolic function, an increase in muscular mass, tone, and strength. The list goes on, but during stressful times, one of the greatest benefits of performing regular exercise is its ability to make the activities of everyday life feel easier.
It's About Balance
"Exercise stress," when managed well, is a healthy stress that over time pushes your body to adapt and become stronger and more efficient. Some studies suggest exercising on a regular basis is beneficial for immunological health, as it can have a positive effect on your body's ability to remain well and fight off common illness. Other studies have found that during flu season, the temporary rise in body temperature during physical activity can discourage certain bacterial growth and the stress relief benefits of exercise helps to keep you feeling at your best.
If you do choose to work out when you're sick, you need your immune system to be firing on all cylinders, so you must carefully manage the duration, intensity level and overall volume of your exercise routines. Managing your exercise routine, consuming a healthy diet, and getting enough rest are just a few great ways you can strive toward getting the best physical and emotional results, and avoid overexertion while sick.
Working Out At Home
The good news — being stuck at home doesn't mean you should stop working out — in fact, working out will likely help you maintain a feeling of normalcy and protect your psyche while you're cooped up in your house. Exercise can help you maintain a centered and more rational mindset. You can work out anywhere no matter how much space you have. All you need is your own body weight and exercises where minimal equipment is required.
You can do a quick full-body exercise routine at any time to stretch and strengthen your body.
Here are five exercises to do at home.
If you're interested in finding some more routines to do in the comfort of your home, you can access this free fitness portal.
Reps: Perform 10-12 of each exercise. Repeat the exercises 4 times for a complete routine.
Time to Complete: About 20 minutes.
Triceps dip with reach
This exercise targets the backs of the arms and shoulders.
- Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent.
- Place your hands behind you with your fingers facing your body.
- Lift your butt up off the floor so that you are supported by your arms and feet.
- Bend your arms at the elbow until your butt touches the floor then push back up to the starting position.
- If you want an extra challenge as you push up lift your left leg and reach forward with your right arm.
This is a total-body exercise as it requires the use of lots of muscle groups.
- Lay face down on the floor and position your hands palms-down on the floor, approximately shoulder-width apart and near your shoulders.
- The balls of your feet should touch the ground and feet just slightly apart.
- Raise yourself using your arms.
- Make a straight line from your head to your heels and contract your abdominals to keep your hips from sagging. This position is the beginning and the end position of a single push-up. Lower your chest toward the floor by bending your elbows hold for a second then return to the start.
Hands and knees balance with crunch
This exercise challenges your balance and works your abdominal muscles.
- Get onto the floor on all fours. Hands directly under the shoulders, knees under your hips. Keep your back flat. Raise your right arm forward and your left leg back behind you. Bring your knee toward your chest at the same time as bringing your elbow to meet your knee.
- Do these 10 times then switch legs.
This is a functional exercise that works the largest muscle group in the body — your butt and legs.
- Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles. Extend arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Start by getting into a position as If you are going to sit in a chair. While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.
- The best squats are the deepest ones your mobility allows. Optimal squat depth would be your hips sinking below the knees.
- Engage core and, with bodyweight in the heels, push back up to standing, driving through heels.
Reverse Lunge with knee lift
This exercise targets the front and back of your legs.
- With your chest lifted, chin up and abs contracted, take a big step backward with your left foot. Sink straight down so that your back knee points down toward the floor. You are on your back, left toe. Your front foot is firm on the floor, as you push back to the starting position lift your knee up in front of you hold for a second then repeat and switch legs.
In short, use this downtime to practice self-care and make time to take care of your body. Don't let yourself miss out on all of the wonderful health benefits associated with exercise. But remember, if you are sick and choose to work out, listen to your body and don't push yourself too hard with your exercise routine, or you can risk a temporary decline in immunological function.
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Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da
If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.
In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.
These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.
After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.
About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.
When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.
Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.
Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.
Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.
This article was originally published September 12, 2019.