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Gyms are closed and public spaces have been cordoned off for the foreseeable future with no end in sight. Indefinite deadlines such as these can dole out damaging hits to your fitness and health goals, draining your motivation and making it difficult to keep on track with a set workout schedule. Still, you should not have to let your hard work go to waste and allow your well-being to plummet just because you are restricted to your home.
Drawing upon his experiences of travelling with Real Madrid FC as the club’s acting physiotherapist, Alvaro Solano Tavira transforms the top workout tips from his times living on cramped tour buses to hacks for adapting your exercises to the home environment.
He mentions that “frequent exercise is recommended for absolutely everyone” and that, in spite of the less-than-ideal circumstances, “there are two things to keep in mind: First is to continue with your usual exercise routine as much as possible, and second, it’s important to add in exercises that support your posture, so your health and well-being will not be compromised.”
Tavira recommends incorporating stretching and joint movement exercises to facilitate better flexibility—oft-forgotten elements that are in fact crucial to your recovery and safety. All of this can be achieved by making the most out of one room and using only a handful of lightweight equipment.
“Resistance bands are definitely one of the best options for people who travel since they are light and easy to pack,” Tavira explains. “By adding resistance bands to a variety of simple exercises, such as lunges and arm raises, they will help you give your workouts an extra edge by pushing your muscles that little bit harder.”
For a full-length resistance band-based workout, try this routine put together by Miami-based fitness expert Jessica Smith. Real Simple’s illustrated guide is also a great overview of general resistance band moves that are easily achievable at many levels of fitness.
If you are tight on space and want to avoid equipment clutter, then bodyweight training is an ideal solution. Relying on the weight of your own body as a replacement for weighted tools can help you improve movement and muscle strength. Tavira says the technique involves “core stability and lumbo-pelvic exercises such as front and side planks. Squats and crunches can improve several aspects of your physical health, giving you a cardiovascular workout as well as increasing strength, flexibility, and body control.”
All this may sound daunting at first, but as this well-stocked list of up to 50 of the most popular bodyweight movements by Greatist shows, the exercises actually take up very little floor space and are simple to get a hang of.
Many people are under the impression that an effective workout requires ample spaces with state-of-the-art appliances, but in actuality, the set-up you need is just as simple as a humble yoga mat in your room. In fact, using a towel in place of a mat—or a few towels, if you need extra cushioning—is sufficient.
It is as easy as putting on an instructional video and following along with the on-screen action, an achievable endeavour to squeeze in a quick session first thing in the morning or at the end of the day when you need to stretch out your body from a whole day of sitting. While yoga does not exactly classify as cardio, it is still a fantastic way to enhance your strength, flexibility, balance1, and can even lower your work-related stress with its mental benefits.
It’s crucial to remember to incorporate exercises that pump up your heart rate, even when you are confined to limited spaces. Vigorous exercise offers benefits that are more prominent in comparison to lighter and moderate activity2 like walking at a regular pace or even tennis. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to feel the burn of a full-on cardio workout without having to clear out your whole home.
“There’s a wide range of bodyweight control exercises that can be aided by the use of furniture. It’s all about using your imagination! For example, using a chair, we can do single-leg or double-leg squats, as well as step-up exercises. Using a table, we can do push-ups at different angles and tricep dips,” explains Tavira.
For some ideas, Health has compiled a high-intensity workout video that guides you through your sessions at home, and Brit+Co compiled a collection of gym-style workouts that have been repurposed to fit living in a flat.