Let's get physical! Here's your homework

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 21 Mar, 2020

Right now, one of our priorities should be trying to keep ourselves healthy and positive. What better way to get the serotonin (feel good hormone) kicking in than by doing some exercise. But with gyms and leisure centres closed, it's a bit more of a challenge – so we need to get creative!

Exercising at home is absolutely possible – in fact you can achieve great levels of fitness without gym equipment. The important thing is to know what exercises to do and of course find the motivation to do it! So I've put together my top tips on how to get yourself motivated, and a simple routine to try at home.

Ways to stay motivated!

  1. Exercise with a friend – OK so right now we can't physically be with our friends in the same room, but we can be together virtually. So ask a friend to be your workout buddy. Get a video call going and prop your phone up so you can encourage each other and workout together. Being accountable to someone else helps you stay on track as you don't want to let the other person down!
  2. Use online resources & fitness DVDs – there are loads of workout videos on YouTube. Having someone shout instructions at you is much easier and more motivating than putting together your own routine. Or now is the perfect time to dig out your old fitness DVDs – Jillian Michaels, Davina, Charlie Brooks, Darcey Bussell, Kelly Holmes, Martine McCutcheon, Rosemary Conley, Nell McAndrews – we've got the calorie burn for all of these workout DVDs and loads more in the Nutracheck exercise database.
  3. Get into a routine – having some structure for your day is important, whether you are now working at home or not. Many people prefer exercising in the morning when their energy levels are higher, and you can get it done for the day. But right now we have the opportunity of working out when it IS your optimum exercise time. Choose your daily time slot and stick to it. (If it helps, write it on a wall calendar for a sense of commitment – and satisfaction when you've completed it!)
  4. Make fitness fun, include the kids! – If you have a young family, exercise together. It's a good way to occupy the kids for half an hour and keeps you fit too. Get the dance mat out – or just bust out some moves to your favourite tunes. If you have Wii Fit, just search for the activity in the Nutracheck exercise database if you want to check your personal calorie burn.

At home total body workout

Give this no equipment required, complete body workout a go in your home – it takes 20 minutes! Some of these exercises can be adapted depending on your ability – for example, do press-ups on your knees or on your toes, and only squat as far as is comfortable. If some of these are outside of your personal capabilities, it's important you skip them. I'll also be sharing other options for at home workouts for a wider range of abilities – so watch this space!

Warm up

Start by jogging on the spot for 1 minute to raise your heart rate and get your muscles warm.

Next swing your arms around in big circles – first backwards for 10 rotations, then forwards, to loosen up your upper body.

Workout

Complete each of the below exercises for 30 seconds each. Once you've completed a circuit, rest for 1 minute, then repeat the circuit. Complete the circuit 4 times in total.

1 Prisoner squats

As you squat, push your hips behind you, keeping weight on your heels. Descend as low as you can, before squeezing your bum muscles to return to a standing position. Once standing, transfer your weight onto your toes to do a calf raise.

2 Star Jumps

Simultaneously move your arms and legs away from your body to form a 'star' type position, then bring both arms and legs back into the body. Keep your chest high and eyes looking straight ahead throughout.

3 Tricep dips (use step/chair)

Place your palms on the edge of a stable object and 'set' your shoulders blades, lifting your chest to create good posture. Slowly bend at the elbows so they move backwards and lower to a manageable level. Extend arms back to the starting position. Repeat.

4 Press up with rotation

Place your hands wider than shoulder width apart, ensuring your chest is centred over the hands. Perform a press up then rotate a fully stretched arm up toward the ceiling until there is a comfortable stretch in your chest. With control, lower the arm back down to the floor and repeat with the opposite arm.

5 Quadruple single leg extension

Adopt a 4-point stance on the floor, draw your belly button in to your spine and squeeze your bum muscles. Extend one leg away from the body, keeping your knee bent at 90 degrees. Lower under control, then repeat with the other leg.

6 Abdominal single leg sliders

Lie on your back, draw your belly button in toward your spine and push your lower back into the floor. Slowly begin to slide one leg forward, going only to the point where your lower back starts to lift, then slide the leg back. Repeat for the other leg.

7 The plank

Position your elbows directly under your shoulders. Draw your belly button in toward your spine and raise your body off the floor until you reach a flat horizontal position – the 'plank'! Hold this position for the desired duration of time.

Cool down

Once you've finished your workout, it's important to cool down and stretch your body and the muscles used. Hold each of the below stretches for 10-15 seconds:

1 Standing tricep stretch

Raise one arm vertically above your head and bend at the elbow to place the hand behind the shoulder. Place your other hand onto the elbow to apply pressure backwards. Be careful not to arch your back or pull to a level where there is too much discomfort.

2 Standing shoulder stretch

Take one arm up and across the body at the shoulder. Use your other hand to apply some pressure to the top of your arm to increase the stretch. Avoid pushing at the elbow joint.

3 Standing quadriceps stretch

Bend one leg at the knee, lifting your heel to your bum. Hold your ankle with the arm on the same side of your body and help to hold the stretch along the front of your leg.

4 Lying piriformis stretch

Place one foot across the other knee and bring your legs up towards your stomach. Place your hands around the thigh which your foot is resting on. Pull your legs in to increase the stretch ensuring your head and neck remain on the floor throughout.


Note:The faster you complete each movement, the harder you will work. But make sure you maintain correct form!

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.