It’s a bleak start to the year. It’s cold outside, you’re broke and you’re stuck at home, making it difficult to kick start your health and fitness resolution. Just because you’re home-bound and on your rump, doesn’t mean you have to let your fitness suffer during lockdown three. Feel Good Contacts has teamed up with Personal Trainer, Badrul Islam to help you to get fit without spending a penny.
Our working world is designed so that we are sitting for eight hours a day. This is the most passive thing you can do which means that you’re not metabolising sugars and fats. Research shows that long periods of sitting can have a detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing and cut years off our lives. The World Health Organisation listed inactivity as the fourth biggest risk factor in global adult mortality.
But luckily there are some exercises and other initiatives you can take to combat fatigue and weight gain. Here are some tips on how to kick start your New Year fitness programme and keep your muscles engaged:
Find a buddy
Once you’re back to working from home after the festive break, find a co-worker with similar New Year health goals so that you can support each other. It is easier to stick with your plan if a buddy is going through the same resolution and helps you to adhere to your schedule and nutritional goals. Alternatively, suggest a fitness initiative to your management team. This would be a great way to get everyone involved. Perhaps you could suggest weekly Zoom team workouts.
Maintain a healthy diet
Food preparation is a great way to control your consumption and saves you money as you won't be buying the quickest, most expensive option when you're in a rush. Chicken, turkey and egg-based lunches are packed with protein and will provide you with the essential building blocks for calorie burning muscles. Fish like tuna and mackerel are cost effective sources of protein that will also increase your energy and the omega-3 will help you to maintain a sharp mind and improve your eyesight. Remember to supplement your protein with vegetables: not only are vegetables much cheaper than meat, they’re full of vitamins, minerals and guilt-free calories and perfect to chop up into snack-size pieces to keep you going throughout the day. Fruit, protein shakes, salads and natural fibre bars are also great snacks.
In terms of drinking, water is one of the easiest ways to manage body weight and reduce your food consumption. To ensure that you are consuming a sufficient amount of water, keep 2 bottles of water (1.5- 2 litres) handy. This will leave you with no excuse for not drinking enough. When full, your water bottles will also be a perfect substitute for dumbbells or weights! If you need to drink something warm, then try non sugary herbal drinks, black coffee or broth.
If you’re having a Zoom meeting, then suggest a standing meeting. As well as getting you out of your chair (or sofa), research shows that these types of meetings are a good way of increasing efficiency, making sure that the meeting doesn’t stretch to an hour when it can be done in half the time.
Mobilise your muscles
When working at your desk (or dining table), if it’s possible, stand up and do your work. Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting and it’s good for your back and posture. If you can’t stand and work, then stand up every 30 minutes to stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the hunched position of sitting. Use a towel or find a broomstick to use for stretching. Holding the towel or broomstick with straight arms at either end, rotate back and forth over your head slowly. Doing this can help to open up your chest muscles and mobilise your back muscles. Stretching is vital for maintaining good posture, especially when working at a desk (or dining table) for several hours a day. It will also help to reduce back and neck pain significantly. If you’re feeling particularly energetic then why not try some deskercise. See below for home based exercise plan.
Set an alarm
Try and break up multiple chunks of sitting time (set an alarm if you feel you need it) with some movement by taking trips to the water machine. The general rule is to take a walk at least every half an hour to get a glass of water. People get dehydrated when they sit, plus at this time of year the heating will be on so you’ll need the extra h20.
What dead time?
When you’re stuck with some dead time, for example, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, don’t be embarrassed to do some light exercises like calf raises, squats or lunges.
Get some fresh air
If you can manage to brave the cold weather, then go for a walk in your break. Use your longer lunchbreak for a workout. Go to your local park for a power walk or run. If you’re new to running, then download the NHS’s Couch to 5K app podcast. It will ease you in gently. For variety of exercises, look out for the communal gym equipment that has been installed in many parks up and down the country. Failing that, you’ll often find monkey bars in the children’s playground where you can work on your pull ups.
Nimesh Shah, Marketing Director at Feel Good Contacts commented: “By keeping ourselves healthy during lockdown three, we will be happier, have more energy, less sick days and be more productive.”
Badrul Islam, Personal Trainer concluded: “Your health is more important than any amount of pay. So be mindful of the length of time you’re sitting. Doing so can mean a long and healthy career for years to come. In addition, prioritising a healthy sleep pattern over social activity, will increase your energy, speed up recovery and boost your productivity.”
Why not try out these simple but effective deskercise routines. Firstly, keep a glass of water handy. To get started, repeat each exercise 20 times. Follow this and in no time at all you’ll be feeling fresh and energized and the January blues will fade away.
Bottle dumbbell over-the-head press: Sitting on a chair, hold a bottle of water laterally in each hand, with your hands next to each ear. Press above the crown of your head, making sure your upper arm finishes by the side of your head.
Bottle dumbbell skull-crushers: Laying on the floor with knees up, holding a bottle of water in each hand, extend your arms over your chest, keeping your arms straight, tilt your arms 20 degrees so your hands are over your face. Bend your elbows so your hands come towards your shoulder but do not allow your shoulder to move. Then extend your arm back to the start position, maintaining no movement in the shoulder.
Bottle dumbbell curls: Holding a bottle in each hand, have each arm extended to the side of your torso. Keeping your elbows tucked into your ribs, flex elbows in until hands almost align with your shoulders. Then slowly extend.
Reverse flyes: Resting your forehead on the back of your chair with bent knees, maintaining a neutral spine so that your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Hang your arms below your chest with a slight bend in your elbow. Pull your arms and hands out laterally so they end up horizontal to the floor and lower them slowly back to the start position.
Standing calf raises: Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forwards, raise yourself up onto your toes, then lower yourself down. Repeat 20 times.
Push-ups on your desk: Placing your hands on the edge of your desk, bend your elbows to lower your chest towards the desk, then push off your hands to raise yourself back up.
Tricep dips on your desk: Facing away from your desk, place your hands on the edge and bend your elbows to lower your body whilst simultaneously bending your knees. Then push yourself up again.
Knee tucks: Sit at the edge of your chair and hold onto the arm of the chair. Bring your knees and ankles together and raise your knees.
Squats: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and bring your hips back to lower yourself. Keep your chest up for maximum effectiveness and make sure you push through your heels to raise yourself back up.