If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of thinking about health more holistically.
Whether it’s just a daily brisk walk of 30 minutes or a rigorous workout regimen, regular exercise – along with a balanced, nutrition-rich diet – can have a positive impact on our health and mental well-being, say an array of health experts.
As more people have warmed up to the idea of exercising at home to get their regular fitness fix since the pandemic hit, demand for at-home exercise gear, virtual sessions, apps and streaming services has soared. Sports and fitness clubs may be back in operation now but home workouts have become a way of life for many fitness enthusiasts.
“The pandemic has brought a drastic change to the fitness industry,” says Mahesh Reddy Voncha, Head of Digital Marketing, Active Fitness Store, an online shop for fitness, gym, sports equipment, and accessories in the UAE.
Everyone can have a completely effective workout at the comfort of home with simple and smart fitness equipment, which has been one of the significant lessons learned during the lockdown days.
“Traditionally, fitness meant going to an elite gym or a fitness centre. But things have changed upside down since the outbreak of Covid-19. Today, everyone can have a completely effective workout at the comfort of home with simple and smart fitness equipment, which has been one of the significant lessons learned during the lockdown days.”
Where to start
Finding time for regular workouts is not easy, but exercising at home could make your plan more sustainable. Creating a dedicated workout space where you can lift, move, bend, lunge, and squat with ease is the first step to starting an effective exercise routine at home.
“While working out, our joints experience excessive load or movement or both. At gyms, the workout area is suitably equipped to protect the joints. Get a well cushioned and anti-slip mat while training at home. It will provide a surface to protect the joints and avoid injuries,” says Dr Dhawal Navinchandra Bakhda, Specialist Orthopedic Surgeon at Aster Clinic, Business Bay.
Starting your workout with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises and stretching is crucial, as an appropriate warm-up sends signals to body for a conscientious training.
“Wearing the right kind of footwear and clothing will also help you prevent workout-related sprains and strains,” he says.
Whatever your age or fitness level, make a realistic workout plan that suits your schedule and goals, and you can actually stick to.
“Starting your workout with 5-10 minutes of warm-up exercises and stretching is crucial, as an appropriate warm-up sends signals to body for a conscientious training,” explains Dr Bakhda. “It is necessary to start slow and gradually increase the intensity of training.”
Before taking on a more strenuous regimen, beginners can consider starting with basic push-ups against a wall to strengthen their upper body. “Stair climbing is another effective strength-training activity that can help you shed extra weight and tone your leg muscles,” says Marius Reiners, Leisure Director, Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel.
Stair climbing is another effective strength-training activity that can help you shed extra weight and tone your leg muscles.
“Include a pre-warm-up routine before the workout and some cool-down activities after training to stretch out those muscles and joints and avoid any injuries. This could be a light jog on the spot or a gentle full body stretch and you’re good to go.”
Investing in a few home exercise equipment can help you significantly elevate your experience and the outcome of a workout schedule.
“There are endless possibilities to train your entire body if you have a set or two of free weights. A yoga mat is a necessity for bodyweight training. A jumping rope is a great and an affordable option for indoor cardio workouts,” says Voncha. “A medicine ball can help work your arms and core. A rowing machine, a smart treadmill, and a stationary bike are also quality options to invest on without confusion. They can give a gym-like experience and great results at the comfort of home.”
Yoga for fitness
Yoga is a great addition to any home exercise routine. This total mind-body workout can help you reduce stress, improve your concentration, flexibility, strength and balance, and promote a sense of peace.
“Start your day with a basic Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation,” says Nerry Toledo, a Dubai-based yoga instructor. “This is a series of postures that flow smoothly from one into another that warms, strengthens, and aligns the entire body – and the sequence is linked to your breathing.
Beyond the physical benefits, Sun Salutation relaxes your body and mind, improves blood circulation, and stimulates your central nervous system,” she says, adding, “You must go slow and learn the basics of yoga first, including breathing. Try an introductory class or a one-on-one instruction to get a good foundation before you move up to more advanced poses. You can also use props like blocks, straps, and other yoga accessories to advance your practice and experience.”
Overexertion, poor technique and form, and training errors are the common causes of back or neck strain and joint sprains during workouts. “Listen to your body and follow some simple strategies to cut your risk of getting hurt,” says Dr Bakhda.
“Dehydration often leads to muscle cramps and muscle fatigue, so stay hydrated during and after the work out,” he says. “If you have chronic back, neck pain or joint arthritis, it is prudent to see a doctor before starting a home exercise programme. A well-tailored low impact aerobic activity with core exercises will help improve strength and endurance of your back, while stretching and strengthening of muscles around the joint are helpful for patients who suffer from joint arthritis.”
Getting fit is not a quick fix solution and people should not expect to see results overnight or within a short period of time.
“Even 20 minutes of workout daily is more than enough to get you started on your fitness journey. It is also important to keep in mind the benefits of a healthy diet while exercising. A balanced diet, adequate hydration and sleep will do wonders for the mind, body and soul,” says Reiners