September 30, 2020
The home has become the main feature for people's lives. With so many people working from home, many find themselves sitting for long periods of time.
Prior to the pandemic, some found solace in knowing that they could go to the gym after work to make up for all that time sitting all day at their desk. Unfortunately, many gyms are still closed or have rigid rules, discouraging people from attending. Many people have canceled their memberships all together.
Luckily, your fitness journey does not have to rely solely on a gym membership. You can achieve your health goals right in the comfort of your own home. While equipment like free weights and resistance bands can be useful for certain routines, these living room exercises don't require anything but your own living space and body.
Before getting started, be sure to dress for success! Putting on appropriate clothes and tennis shoes will not only help you physically with keeping traction but also help put you in the right mindset for a great workout.
Some people prefer to do squats with a chair or couch behind them, but whether or not you have furniture behind you, the motion is the same. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hinge your torso at the hips and bend your knees until your bottom is about chair-height or touches the furniture behind you. Keep your arms extended in front of your body to avoid using them to "swing" your weight. Stand back up, pushing your weight down through your heels.
To make it even more of a challenge, take those coffee table books that you never read but look fancy to impress your guests and put them to work. Try holding one in front of you while doing the squat repetitions. This will add a little extra weight and force your core to do more balancing.
Strengthening your abdominal core is crucial for a strong body and relieving back pain from all that sitting. Target those abs with this move. Laying on your back, raise your legs in a right angle like a tabletop. Place your hands behind your head with folded fingers. As you crunch your torso upward, bring your right elbow to your left knee while straightening your right leg. Release, then alternate bringing your left elbow to your right knee while straightening your left leg. Repeat in alternation. It may seem easy at first, but after a few rotations you will really feel the burn in your core.
Pushups aren't given enough credit. If done properly, they can be terrific for both core strength and arm strength. Remember that achieving good quality pushups with a good form is more effective than a whole lot of them with sloppy form. Beginners can start with knee pushups. These are done like regular pushups, but weight is distributed between the two arms and knees on the floor, rather than feet. Intermediate pushups are your standard gym class ones: hands and feet on the floor in planking position, bending and extending arms. More advanced positions are one-handed pushups as well as one-legged pushups. Lifting a leg concentrates more weight on your other limbs.
Hips are so important when it comes to harnessing strength. For many people sitting at their desks all day, hips may be a neglected part of the body. Lay on the floor on your right side with both legs straight. You can prop your head up with your hand beneath your bent elbow on the floor. Lift your left leg, while keeping the rest of your body as still as possible. Keep the leg straight and raise as high as you can. Slowly return to the beginning position, don't just "drop" your leg. Do this for a set on one side, then switch sides and do the same.
Find a sturdy chair in your home, preferably one without a cushioned top. A dining room chair should do the trick. Sit on it, toward the front, then, holding the front edge of the chair, move forward enough that your bottom is off the chair, and feet are extended away from you. Your heels should be just slightly in front of your knees. Slowly bend at the elbows as you lower your body until your arms achieve a right angle. Then extend back up, slowly, and repeat this motion.
Some of these may be brand new exercises and positions for you. It's easy to get hyper-focused on the position of your body and forget to breathe. Be sure to take long, even, slow breaths with each move. Your working muscles need oxygen to build strength, so remind yourself constantly to breathe and take water breaks as needed.
Taking time to strengthen your body and move is a form of self care and is the most important thing you can do for your body, mind, and your work.
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