India Lockdown Fitness

You’re WFH, but are you Working out From Home?

If we were in the US, had 2,500 dollars to spare, and liked the meditation-meets-night-club sweat session that is SoulCycle, we’d be pre-ordering our bikes in candle-lit anticipation. But to be honest, we are more likely to do a bunch of floor exercises on our balconies, in lazy pyjamas, without anyone judging us.

Don’t, says Radhika Gordhandas, an exercise psychologist and HR professional who currently works at Tata CLiQ. “Wear the workout gear you usually would, because it’s a preparation to get you into your routine ( Fill your bottle of water, follow the warm-up and cool-down). If you’re in your pyjamas, you may get casual about these,” she says.

Because working out from home is free and you can do it anytime, there’s the danger of procrastinating and ending up never doing it. “It’s best to keep it to the time you always do it at, because you don’t want to be distracted by anything else,” says Radhika. By switching on and off from a particular activity, you perform your best at both, rather than scattering yourself among many things.

If you’re asking yourself why you can’t just treat this period as an exercise holiday, especially if you’re healthy, Prof Deepak Joshi, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Sports Injury Centre at Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, takes away hope. “Remember what exercise does for children, adults, and the elderly is different,” he says.

While children need an hour to an hour-and-a-half to stimulate growth, adults need about 40-45 minutes in order to keep the body fit. The elderly need frequent movement if they can’t do the 40 minutes at one stretch, so they don’t lose muscle strength or bone minerals. “Your body form is directly proportionate to function: muscles remodel according to how you use them,” he says.

Derive a formula

It’s a good idea to plan your routine either the night before or a week in advance, so that habit rather than choice, drives you to exercise. Dr Deepak Chaudhary, who heads the Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine Centre at BLK, Delhi, suggests a combination of daily exercises.

Warm-up: Jogging on the spot, skipping, a few burpees and a few surya namaskars can be used as a warm-up activity.

Cool-down: Stretch, especially targeting the muscles that have been in focus through your workout. For instance, if you have been jogging on the spot, then stretch the quads, hamstring, calf, IT band and glutes for 20-30 seconds.

Build your own workout

Shiba Mehra, ACE-certified instructor and rehab specialist, who runs Spectrum Fitness that trains trainers, helps us piece together a workout.

Use a series of three-five exercises; do 10-15 repetitions each, taking a water break after you complete one circuit. Continue until you do 20-30 minutes, if you are doing it at high intensity. You can choose to do a different one each day.

Cardio: Jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, high knees, skipping – you can do this in any order.

Arm Strength: Fill two water bottles to use them as weights. Perform for two minutes each, side planks (raising the free hand with the weight), bicep curls, squat jumps, shoulder presses, lunges – all with weights. Take a water break; repeat until you have completed 30-40 minutes.

Flexibility: Go from bottom to top, stretching the longest muscles first: calf, hamstring, quad, IT band, glute, back, chest, deltoid, rhomboid, traps, biceps and triceps.

A full-body workout: Perform planks, mountain climbers, burpees, pushups, squats, lunges. Take a water break; repeat until you have completed 30-40 minutes.

Use your furniture


Score on yoga

Done on its own, the surya namaskar works as an exercise for the whole body, and can work to strengthen (if done slowly), build flexibility, endurance (if done repeatedly and gradually increased in number according to individual fitness levels), and cardio-vascular fitness (if poses are done in quick succession to get the heart rate up).

Take micro-fitness breaks

By definition, a micro-break is a burst of high-intensity activity for 2-10 minutes, depending on the time you have and your fitness level. “Set an alarm every hour, or else you will forget,” says Shiba.

Pick any body weight exercise or simply do a series of stretches, especially the chest, back, neck, and glutes that are affected by prolonged screen time. “Tadasana is also a good pose,” says Shiba, who advises people to hold stretches for between 12 and 20 seconds each, breathing through it all.

Do remember

Use a mat, the grass, a wooden floor, or mud to exercise, and not the cement floor.

Catch the morning sun on your balcony for 40 minutes while you exercise, to get your vitamin D exposure too.

Avoid exercises you’re unfamiliar with, especially if you have a problem with balance, because you don’t want to be in a situation where you need to go to the hospital.

Get other people to move

Whether it’s elderly parents or screen-grabbed kids, exercising with them, while maintaining a distance of three feet, helps. This is important if someone has a medical condition that needs special attention: diabetes or hypertension, for instance. “People can walk for about 20 minutes just outside their houses, with recommended precautions,” says Dr KK Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India.

He also suggests playing table tennis, which again keeps people at a distance while giving them a time to bond. “Anyone who can walk 500 metres in six minutes can do any type of regular exercise, so walking up the steps is fine too,” he says, adding that it’s best to keep grandchildren apart from grandparents, as the former can have an asymptomatic infection that can affect the latter.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 3:25:31 PM |

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