If you’re waking up to face our fourth lockdown in Melbourne this week, I feel your pain. Over the weekend I noticed a large number of people walking the streets and taking to the park to bask in the sunshine and get that permitted exercise.
It occurred to me that a number of people may be wanting to know how to get the best out of this time now that you have decided to commit to it.
So here is my best advice to really look after yourself and stay healthy psychically and mentally in lockdown.
These are my top tips for you to use that 2 hrs that we are permitted to exercise outdoors during COVID-19.
But before we launch into the exercise, we need to think about what is appropriate for you.
What will you use your 2hrs for?
What is your goal?
· Weight Loss
· Build Muscle
· Improved bone density
· Improved Cardiovascular capacity
· Improve my mental health
Let’s go thru each one.
If you have been following me for a while or know me then you know I will say that If you need to exercise to lose weight then your approach to nutrition is wrong. So that nails the first one.
Do not exercise to lose weight.
If you don’t understand why, get in touch with me I will explain.
So, let’s get into it!
Build Muscle: Building muscle when you cannot access a gym is still possible here are some ideas, noting that I am not giving anyone specific training or medical advice.
1/ Walk with a heavy Backpack on flat on hills or upstairs if you don’t have a backpack buy a bag of rice with handles on it i.e., those 5kg bags and put one in each hand and use that. (Note don’t eat the rice it will just increase your blood sugar and lead to weight gain).
2/ Do body weight exercise such as the Mark Sisson Primal Movements.
You can find examples of the movements on health and wellness app under the free stuff tab.
Improve bone density: As we get older, we really do need to focus on our Bone density, this can be checked by having a Dexa Scan, but some of the exercises you can do to improve it are as follows:
Weight-bearing exercises such as these walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. So, if you have your own tennis court go for it.
Basketball netball and cricket are all great also this is because we are jumping and running around.
Resistance exercises: Such as lifting weights, can also strengthen bones but this may be hard if you cannot access the gym during the lockdown. But doing some simply plyometrics will get the same results.
Plyometric exercises can cause stress to the tendons, ligaments, and lower-extremity joints, especially the knees and ankles. It’s important that you have the strength and fitness level necessary to do these exercises safely and effectively, so be careful.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.
Lower your body to squat down.
Press up through your feet, engage your abdominals, and jump up explosively.
Lift your arms overhead as you jump.
Upon landing, lower yourself back down to the squatting position.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetition
From standing, bend your legs to come into a squat position.
Place your hands down on the floor as you jump your feet back into a plank position, keeping your spine straight.
Lower your chest to the floor for one push-up.
Jump your feet forward to the outside of your hands, coming into a squat.
Explosively jump up and lift your arms overhead.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
For this exercise, you’ll need a box or something to jump on that’s 12 to 36 inches high. To increase the intensity, you can do the exercise using one leg.
From standing, squat down to jump onto the box with both feet.
Lift your arms up as you jump to gain momentum.
Jump up and backward off the box, gently landing with bent knees.
Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Start at the bottom of a staircase.
Hop up the stairs on your right leg.
Walk back down.
Then do the opposite side.
Use caution when adding plyometric exercises to your workout routine if you’re a beginner or have any injuries or chronic conditions. It’s best if you already have an established workout routine and are physically fit before beginning plyometric exercises. These exercises require strong ligaments and tendons since they can cause stress to the joints.
Slowly add plyometric exercises to your routine, starting with basic, lower intensity moves before moving into more challenging movements. Gradually build up the intensity and difficulty once you’re sure your body is strong enough to handle the exercises. If you find that plyometric training is too intense, consider trying out a different method of exercise.
Improve your Cardiovascular Health
Now this is a polarising topic, the fitness or as I say the sickness industry would want you to think that you need to smash yourself in the 2 hrs and work your heart like crazy but what does this actually achieve. All it does is increase the stress hormone cortisol which most of us already have too much of. Cortisol stops our body using our bodies fat stores as fuels and promotes inflammation
In short, the theory is that with our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle, our bodies are pumping out cortisol almost constantly, which can wreak havoc on our health. This whole-body process, mediated by hormones and the immune system, identifies cortisol as one of the many players.
Repeated elevation of cortisol (which comes from even moderate exercise can lead to weight gain. One way is via visceral fat storage. Cortisol can mobilize triglycerides from storage and relocate them to visceral fat cells (those under the muscle, deep in the abdomen).
A second way in which cortisol may be involved in weight gain goes back to the blood sugar-insulin problem. Consistently high blood glucose levels along with insulin suppression led to cells that are starved of glucose. But those cells are crying out for energy, and one way to regulate is to send hunger signals to the brain. This can lead to overeating. And, of course, unused glucose is eventually stored as body fat.
Another connection is cortisol’s effect on appetite and cravings for high-calorie foods. Studies have demonstrated a direct association between cortisol levels and calorie intake in populations of women. Cortisol may directly influence appetite and cravings by binding to hypothalamus receptors in the brain. Cortisol also indirectly influences appetite by modulating other hormones and stress responsive factors known to stimulate appetite. THIS IS why we should not exercise even moderately if we want to lose weight.
Yes, we come back to focusing on nutrition ask me what to do I will help you.
So, you ask what the hell do I do to improve my cardiovascular health, well depending on your athletic background, any medical conditions and your experience here are the basics.
Establish your Maximum Aerobic Function HR 180- Age this is the maximum HR you should be at when you are running or briskly walking, that is 180-50 years – MAF HR of 130 BPM you may need to use a Heart rate monitor remember watch-based sensors are not 100% accurate and they do spike, so a chest strap is best or the old fingers on your pulse and count for 15 seconds then x 4 to get your HR.
Working at your MAF Hr will keep you burning FAT and build your aerobic and cardiovascular health. You will no doubt fight against this but the 6-x world champion Hawaii Ironman Mark Allen and I both use this process now I am not a Ironman Champion but at 56 I can run the Park run in 20:34 easily a 10km in 40.23 and a Marathon in 3:26 with an avg HR of 125 this is unheard of all from using this method in training
So, walking riding and general exercise at this Aerobic HR is healthy, safe, and leads to massive health benefits. When you add Nasal Breathing to this you lower the cortisol even more what is Nasal Breath work let’s talk about that in how to improve your mental health.
Improving your mental health:
Get out and walk the dog for 2 hrs make sure you pick up its poo…
Ride your bike comfortably with a helmet on.
Take a yoga mat to the park and do some yoga with yoga by Adriene (she is on my health and wellness app also)
Do some guided meditations with my good friend Richard Gibson, he is on my app also. I have a whole course on nasal breath work, I do nearly 1 hr each day of meditation and breath work.
You can easily do a calming breathing technique focusing on the exhalations. Just do a 1-2 breathing session this is a practice where we look to make our exhalations twice as long as the inhalations. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, moving us towards a more restful state, making this a really nice practice anytime you feel like you need a little space to chill. Breath in thru the nose for 4 seconds then breath our for 4 seconds. Do this 10 times, then increase the exhale to 6 seconds x 10 times then increase the exhale to 8 seconds x 10 times.
So, sitting on a mat or chair in the park and do a 15-minute breath work session (once again on my app.
Let’s hope we are out of this soon; however, it is a chance, and may even be a circuit breaker, for you to start looking after yourself better and that can be the silver lining, we are looking for.
My free App can be accessed here for ios/Android devices