As gyms close and we spend more time at home, it’s easy to neglect physical activity altogether. However, it’s crucial to get yourself into the groove of regular exercise to support your well-being, now more than ever. Aside from building strength, regular exercise also helps control weight, reduce stress, improve sleep, and reduce the risk of heart conditions.
TheU.S. Department of Health and Human Services'physical activity guidelines suggest that adults between the ages of 18 to 65 should do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workout or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week (1). For additional health benefits, the guidelines suggest that adults should consider working out twice the amount. Besides cardio, the workouts should include strength and conditioning routines at least twice a week.
A moderate-intensity workout will include activities that increase heart rate and breathing to about 5 to 6 on a 0-to-10 scale. Exercises like brisk walking, dancing, swimming, and cycling are considered moderate-intensity workouts (2).
On the other hand, a high-intensity workout includes activities that increase heart rate to about 7 to 8 on a 0-to-10 scale. Activities like jogging, tennis, and cycling uphill are considered high-intensity workouts.
Strength and conditioning activities include those that increase muscle and bone strength, endurance, and mass. Activities like strength training, resistance training, running, jumping rope, and lifting weights are examples of strength and conditioning activities.
While all the activities mentioned above are excellent for overall health, Covid-19 restrictions have made some more challenging to carry out. In lieu of heading out to get your workout in, the next best way to incorporate a highly effective cardio and strength routine is through a full-body workout at home.
A full-body workout is a strength training style that focuses on working all the muscles in the body at once, rather than focusing on individual parts. While many choose to split their workouts into chest day, leg day, or back and biceps day, each session in a full-body workout is a whole-body day.
The muscle groups engaged in a typical full-body routine are your chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Most of us don’t have round-the-clock access to weights, machines, and other equipment found in gyms. But that’s nothing to worry about: You can get in an effective, full-body workout at home using just your body weight. Bodyweight exercises are a fruitful way to get a high-quality cardio and strength workout in, wherever you are.
You can also make use of everyday opportunities to sneak more activity into your days. We’ll get into the specific kinds of workouts you can explore in just a bit.
Being locked within the four walls of home can get the best of anyone. Working out can help, reducing the levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in the body. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, aka your happy hormones. Endorphins produce feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany hard workouts(3)
Exercise improves blood circulation in the body. This increased blood flow raises oxygen levels and protects you from the risk of heart diseases like high cholesterol, coronary artery diseases, strokes, and heart attacks(4).
Exercise induces perspiration (or sweating), which helps release toxins from the body. Through its boost to circulation, exercise also makes it is easier for the liver and lymph nodes to do their job of clearing toxins from the body(5).
Full-body workouts are ideal for fat loss because they activate each muscle group at least twice a week, without taking a heavy toll on the body in terms of recovery. This means you can spend more time engaged in activity and less time sore on the couch.
While working out at home, there are a few things you should look for in a workout to maximize your efficiency. Ideally, a full-body routine should include the following elements:
If you’re unsure what exercises to do in a full-body routine, give this sample routine a try. It’s highly effective and takes no more than 20 minutes out of your day:
Let’s look at each of these exercises and examine their benefits in detail.
A cardio exercise and muscle-builder all in one, burpees are known for working up a sweat. Burpees are not only great for burning fat—they have several other benefits as well:
You might remember these from high school PE class. High knees help engage your core, strengthen leg muscles, and improve coordination and flexibility.
Jump squats engage your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, lower back, obliques, abs, and shins. Talk about a one-stop shop!
Thev-sit twist targets the abdominals and obliques for balanced core strength.
Leg raises work your abdominals while improving stability. When performing leg raises, we recommend lowering your legs back down to the ground slowly to really engage the core.
Dips help with muscle definition and toning by increasing the strength in your triceps, chest, and general upper body area.
Planks engage all muscles of the body, from your pelvic girdle, to shoulder girdle and legs.
Jump lunges target the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, and calves.
Tuck jumps work the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, obliques, abdominal muscles, biceps, and anterior shoulders.
This compound exercise targets your triceps, deltoids, abdominal muscles, back, hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and butt.
Running up and down the stairs gets your heart pumping and works your core, glutes, and calf muscles. It’s one of the simplest ways to burn fat and build endurance. If you have knee pain or any other knee problems, it’s best to steer clear of this one(22).
Things like gardening, cleaning, house chores, playing with pets, and organizing shelves are all considered NEAT activities. These activities engage your muscles without the need for traditional exercise. Keeping yourself engaged in any form of physical activity like those listed above can be counted towards your daily movement goals and are linked to lowered risks of obesity(23).
Every time you take a bathroom break during the workday, decide to complete 1-3 sets of any one kind of exercise. One of those sets may be squats or bicep curls with a water bottle in-hand. By the end of the day, you’ll have all your workout targets met, even if it was a busy day.
Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise to incorporate into your daily life. Walking for 10 to 15 minutes after every meal helps ensure that your gut health, as well as sugar levels, are balanced. Doing this after all three meals will ensure that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day(24).
Most people are well aware of the physical and mental benefits of physical exercise. With the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, it’s more necessary now than ever to stay fit and healthy. United States public officials stress the importance of a physical exercise routine that balances cardio, strength, and conditioning to stay healthy.
Since going to the gym is not an option for most at this time, the next best thing that is highly effective and extremely cost-effective is a full-body workout at home. Using just your body weight, you can work every muscle of your body in a mere 20 minutes.
A sample workout routine incorporates jumping jacks, push-ups, burpees, high knees, jump squats, sit-ups, leg raises, dips, planks, jump lunges, tuck jumps, and mountain climbers. You can also stay physically active by taking the stairs, engaging in NEAT activities, working out at different intervals during the day, and taking brisk walks after every meal.
Ramya Satheesh - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice