Mastering a home/quarantine workout.
Of course you know, like diet, exercise is vital to your wellbeing, too; definitely to be reflected in your immunity, energy, and longevity. Other benefits? An obvious one is that exercise boosts our metabolism, thus burning up the fat otherwise stored in the body, often in the most unflattering places. Leanness alone is worth the moderate effort it takes.
Need more reasons to exercise? The data are overwhelming that exercise is a great stress-reducer (exorcise the cortisol!)—quite unlike anything else. Plus, it gives you a sense of achievement, helping to build your mental and emotional health, then to be reflected in such ways as more happiness and better self-esteem.
The brilliance is you can do everything you need for a full-body workout right in the comfort of your own home. All it takes is a little know-how and discipline to get started, and that's where I'd love to help you. Some of what I'll share with you is from my book, Infinity Health Manual.
Now let's talk about the factors for mastering a quarantine workout - a life essential, more than ever.
As you know, there are two general categories of exercise: aerobic, also known as “cardio,” and anaerobic which is generally load-bearing or the expenditure of energy in bursts, like sprints. You need to get the heart rate up with sustained aerobic activity, but you need to build muscle via anaerobic activity, too. By building muscle with load-bearing exercise, your body naturally burns more calories on a consistent basis. You’re building a bigger engine which requires more fuel! So the priority isn’t necessarily losing weight, it’s building strength which then produces a leaner body.
There’s one particular exercise that, for the money, is the most efficient in combining both cardio and load-bearing activity: hiking - or power walking. Of course, generally speaking, we don’t have the time to hike for hours every day. But even going a few miles at a sturdy pace every other day can have a tremendous impact. You’re getting your heart rate up and sustaining your body weight as you trek up and down hills, making hiking the perfect cardio and load-bearing activity, all in one.
Popular ways that people try to replicate this kind of physical activity are in the gym via stationary bikes or treadmills. These are obviously much better alternatives than not exercising at all. But when doing only the same repetitive motion that’s offered by stationary bikes or treadmills, you can’t really get the same kind of workout provided by hiking and fast paced walking. Essentially, all of those stabilizer muscles aren’t really working. And, you’re not getting outside which is always the place I prefer to do at least a portion of my exercise. (Hooray for more sunshine.) Do you live somewhere flat? No worries. A brisk walk, followed by doing a few sets of squats while holding a dumbbell to your chest, qualifies as an awesome workout.
Too easy for you? Try carrying two, five, or ten pound dumbbells (or water bottles) during your walk and pump your arms like you mean it. Now we’re talking. Or maybe you’ve got other athletic pursuits like swimming and biking—they’re all good. Oh, and one more - dance! You might just want to check out that video ;)
As for load-bearing exercise, remember that the gluteus muscles and quads should be your highest priority for enhancing your metabolism and building your overall strength. The seldom-done squats and deadlifts are hands down the best exercises you can do because of the emphasis on these bigger muscles as well as your core strength. Especially squats really do work every muscle in the body. Deadlifts have an undeserved negative reputation (the name doesn’t help—better would be “life-lifts”!) that comes from too many people doing them inappropriately, with too much weight and with the wrong form.
Just like hiking, bending over or squatting to pick up heavy objects is something humans have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years; thus our bodies are well adapted to do these exercises. But don’t risk an injury. Do them right. Your best bet? Work with the theme “less weight, more reps.” Also these lifting exercises don’t necessarily need to be committed to with a bar. Using dumbbells or kettle-bells is a great, low-risk way to get started, like I show you in the video. Rubber exercise bands can be excellent tools as well. All manageable workout tools you can have at home.
Men often tend to get preoccupied with upper body workouts, partly because they’re easier overall since the upper body muscles are smaller relative to the muscles in the legs. It’s a matter of balance between lower and upper-body exercises, but placing more of an emphasis on lower-body is the way to go. And of course we’re not talking body-building here. We’re talking about strength and life-force building.
Remember to maintain stretching as a part of your physical activity. Maintaining elasticity of muscles is vital for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is prevention of injury, inflammation, and those everyday aches and pains. It’s important for maintaining good posture, too. A full body stretch doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. Actually, a common mistake can be over-stretching, which can make muscles weaker. Of course muscles can be re-strengthened, but why put your body through unnecessary stress? If you choose a yoga practice (I may just have something very interesting to show you next week), the idea is to hold the stretching poses for only seconds. It’s the strengthening poses that can be held for longer. There is some reasoning however for holding the stretching poses longer, and it’s for the releasing of deeper tension. So in a sense there can be a benefit to this. My suggestion if you do the longer stretching poses is to do them only on an occasional basis, especially if building strength is what you’re going for.
While we’re on the subject of stretching, here’s an often overlooked part of the body you should definitely make it a point to stretch: your arches! In a way, the feet are a foundation. Taking care of them is reflected throughout the body. The key is to spend at least some time on your bare feet. Around the house, for instance. Arches are your body’s natural suspension, vastly better than the foam cushioning you find in shoes with arch support (the role these shoes can fulfill is running on pavement, but otherwise offer little benefit). Going barefoot stretches out the arches and stretching anything in the body means getting oxygen-rich blood to the areas that need it.
Exercise is certainly neck and neck with diet, in terms of importance for your overall health. They’re both critical links in the chain of well-being. Remember that when we neglect our diets, we lose the energy and enthusiasm we need to be physically active. It becomes hard to exercise even if we want to. So create the life-force with your diet, and then pump the handle with exercise.
And don’t forget that your physical well-being is connected directly to your psychological health. No question a strong body is one of the foundational elements for a strong mind, only to make us more fit to better navigate through the world of modern stressors - of course needed now more than ever. Priceless, wouldn’t you say?