The more sedentary we become (now that we don’t walk or move around that much every day), our body loses 40 percent of its muscle mass, our aerobic capacity decreases, we lose 8 percent of our bone mass, our moods change, and our metabolism slows down.
That’s why it’s so important to do some kind of physical activity. We have more elements in our home than we think to exercise. In fact, by the time this is over, even the walls in our home will hold a different meaning.
Some people say, to build a habit, we need 21 days: we have to re-train our brain through neurogenesis, and the process through which new brain cells are formed takes 21 to 66 days. During this time, we “teach” our brain to do a specific action or series of activities until it “gets used to it.”
If we use these quarantine months to teach our brain a routine that boosts our mental and physical health, all while doing at-home workouts, by the end of this period, we will probably have built good habits that will stay with us as our society continues to transform.
Cardiovascular exercise is very important for many reasons: it helps burn fat, improves lung and heart health, and keeps our cholesterol level and blood pressure in check. It also activates the neurotransmitters that help the central nervous system: serotonin, anandamide, dopamine, and endorphins. These substances also help reduce stress.
Jump rope: At first, do as much as your body allows. Take your time and keep practicing for a couple of weeks. Then, you can gradually add more minutes to the time you spend jumping.
Burpees: You start by standing up, bend down, do a high plank on the ground with your arms flexed, get back up, and jump with your arms stretching up. Do as many sets as you can.
Mountain climbers: Besides getting your heart rate up, mountain climbers will strengthen your shoulders, core, and legs. While doing a high plank, place both hands on the ground right at shoulder level (elbows at a right angle), stretching one leg, and flexing the other one, with your toes on the ground. Then, alternate your legs, moving as though you were climbing, with your knees reaching your chest. Increase your speed as your technique and coordination improve.
Although this kind of physical activity can be very demanding, you will see that its benefits are many. By combining cardio and strength training, you will get better results.
Some of the benefits of strength training are building and toning muscle mass, which helps our internal organs move into their correct positions, so their functioning will also be optimal. It also helps with digestion, posture, and your joints and bones will be more protected thanks to the strength of your muscles.
Plank: Rest your forearms and toes on the ground (with your hips at the same height as our shoulders) and contract your stomach for 20 seconds. Repeat three to four times and increase the time you spend in this position.
Tricep Dips: Place your hands on a chair or bench, stretch your feet forwards, and use your heels for support on the ground. Clench in your glutes and abdomen, and slowly move up and down by bending your elbows. At first, do as many repeats as you can, and then, as with the other exercises, increase them little by little.
Squats: They’re basic but very effective, and they help strengthen your lower body, as well as your abdomen. Stand up straight with your feet at hip level, and push your hip backward, as though you were trying to sit down, but make sure that your knees don’t go past your toes. You can do a series with the previous exercises and this one.
Mental and physical health
The concept of mental health has been used in recent years more frequently to show how little attention we give to psychological problems that affect millions around the world, like anxiety, depression, and panic, among others, but we must continue raising awareness about the importance of self-care in this regard.
Although exercise and physical activity are no substitute for treatment, they do help a lot, with yoga and meditation being especially helpful practices.
There are many apps and YouTube channels out there offering different meditation and yoga styles. Some styles that we recommend are:
Hatha Yoga: Improve flexibility, breathing, and the stability of your nervous central system through postures repeated in sessions lasting 20 to 60 minutes. There are sessions for beginners, intermediate, and advanced yogis. These postures also help strengthen your bones and muscles and help you focus better.
Mindful meditation: This kind of meditation simply means focusing our attention on a specific point: it can be our breathing, our body, our motor system, etc. For example, walk slowly and carefully observe which parts of your body are moving, how they move, what their temperature is, and what it feels like to do something so ordinary with all our senses open. It helps reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Kundalini Yoga: These postures are simple, and the main focus is on the relationship between breathing and movement, which can sometimes increase with “fire breathing.” You will work on different levels: musculoskeletal, respiratory, digestive, circulatory, nervous, and glandular.
With these activities, you can create your own routine, mix and match whatever you want, and build healthy habits that help you on a physical, mental, and emotional level during this time, but also in the upcoming future.