By Sean Zucker –
Whether it’s school closings, companies encouraging remote work or mandatory shutdowns of restaurants, movies and all sporting events, the advice is clear – stay home. The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has led to the dawn of a new social-distancing America that is encouraging or perhaps demanding that we avoid human contact at all costs. Gyms aren’t immune to this crisis. In fact, they were among the first facilities to face mandatory closures—which affects more than 60 million sweat-loving Americans. But the end of gym days doesn’t mean you can’t get your daily burn. There are plenty of cardio, strength and flexibility exercise options available that don’t require equipment or a lot of time and, most importantly, can be handled at home.
Start with a classic, push-up. Like a great leather jacket, this simple practice has never gone out of style and for good reason. Traditional push-ups are an excellent method to gain strength and muscle. The time-tested exercise works by using your own body weight as resistance, working your upper body and core at the same time. The old-school technique targets primarily the chest, shoulders and triceps muscles burning 7 calories per minute.
Even after all this time, the benefits continue to pile up. Just last month, researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health discovered that active middle-aged men who were able to complete 40 or more push-ups had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
For another solid at-home core workout, look no further than the ever-popular plank. Often heralded as the most effective step taken towards securing that coveted six-pack, planking increases the muscle definition in the abdomen by targeting all four muscle groups in your stomach (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and the internal and external obliques). As with most exercises, proper technique is key. However, a quick search on YouTube will provide endless demonstrations of the correct form for the unassuming position.
Since health professionals advise against nonessential outdoor activities, going for a run should be off the table but getting a good cardio workout is not. Thankfully, the solution doesn’t require a treadmill or any equipment, and it may even bring back memories of high school gym class — mountain climbers. If you don’t remember, to perform mountain climbers start in push-up position. Then pull your knees up to your chest, one at a time, in quick succession. You may operate as many reps for as long as you feel comfortable but a standard is 20 seconds three times through.
The exercise will work nearly your entire body, but especially your arms, shoulders, quads and core, all while building cardio endurance and overall agility.
These kinds of workouts aren’t new. In fact, even with the rise of hotel gyms, many road warriors (think business travelers) still embrace quick, highly focused in-room routines to stay healthy and sane while traveling. Not surprisingly, they can be just as easily done in a living room as in a hotel room. Among others, Nerdfitness.com, for example, lays out several 20-minute workout programs that are ideal to stay fit during the coronavirus crisis.
Shuttered gyms and trainers are also stepping up to help their members stay fit until they can reopen. Milwaukee’s CoMotion Fitness, for example, has improvised by bringing the gym to its members. The club is sending detailed online tutorials to housebound members so they don’t lose any progress in their fitness journey.
So while quarantined, be safe, wash your hands often and relax. You can even still get your pump on and sweat a little – in a good way.