Since the World Health Organization declared the novel Coronavirus a global pandemic on Wednesday, there’s been a worldwide reaction for safety as the number of cases and deaths continues to climb.
Sports around the globe have halted play. Broadway has closed shop, as have museums and other public institutions. Schools are closing and workers are being forced to work remotely as we come to terms with the worldwide spread.
Remote working started weeks ago as countries sought to figure out how production can continue without disruptions. If you’re working remotely now, chances are you’re still struggling to find a routine. For some, the couch might be the best place to work or maybe it’s sitting at the kitchen table away from distraction.
Regardless, your day-to-day work has been interrupted and will likely be for the coming days to weeks which means things like your diet could change, and most likely, your fitness routine, too.
Is it safe to continue to go to the gym during the coronavirus pandemic? Perhaps, but you should be cautious (and keep washing your hands), according to doctors.
“[The outbreak] doesn’t mean you stop going to the gym, but it means you’ve got to be super careful in the gym. So you’re going to wipe [things] down [there] with an alcohol hand sanitizer,” Australian doctor and journalist Dr. Norman told ABC.
If you’re worried about going out to the gym or running outside, there are alternatives. Ladders spoke to Stephanie Mansour, fitness guru and founder of fitness brand Step it Up with Steph, on how to make the most of exercise at-home during the coronavirus.
Mansour said it’s vital to continue exercise for the health benefits that can help prevent getting the Coronavirus infection by building your immune system, while it also can relieving stress from perhaps working in an environment other than your work desk. She suggested getting creative within your living space.
“Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the change to your normal routine and add in something that will actually be good for your health,” Mansour said.
How to exercise at home during the Coronavirus outbreak
She suggested some out-of-the-box thinking when approaching exercise at-home like finding a dance workout to complete around your living room, doing squats while on a conference call (Reach your glutes back to the couch and standing back up again for the squat), or starting your day off with a 5-minute yoga stretch routine to make up for time gained by not commuting.
“Adding in health and fitness into your daily routine, or keeping it up if you currently have one, is huge right now,” she said. Not only will it help you physically build immunity and reach your health goals, but also it will help you mentally.
“During exercise, you’re forced to be present and focused. It’s like a moving meditation – you aren’t able to concentrate on the news or the virus or the fact that your day to day routine is interrupted because you’re focusing on doing the workout moves correctly. Sync your breathing with your movements to stay even more present – breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.”
Before you start your workday, Mansour suggested doing a few stretches or a full yoga routine to set your mind on a positive note.
“Simple stretches that open up your chest, hips, and lungs are amazing for improving circulation and even for detoxing the body. Instead of stagnant energy, you’re getting things moving first thing,” she said.
At-home strength training
Just because you’re not around weights doesn’t mean you can’t work on strength training in your home.
“Adding in strength training throughout the day – without any equipment or the gym – is something that I encourage all of my private weight loss clients to do,” Mansour said.
She suggested three routines — squats, modified push-ups (or even push-ups against the wall), and basic pilates ab crunches — do throughout the day. Mansour said to perform 10 squats, 10 push-ups, and 10 crunches and repeat for three rounds.
“This will take you only 5 minutes and it’ll provide you with a full-body workout you can do in the comfort of your home,” she said.
For a more gym feel, Mansour suggested putting out a yoga mat to make your living room feel like your own gym. You could even add other accessories to trick your mind, too.
“You can even place a water bottle and your tennis shoes next to the mat so that you feel like you have a little gym locker next to your gym space (the mat). Have fun with this new workout space that you’ve created,” she said.
On the run or the gym?
Another option is to consider walking or running in place, Mansour said.
But don’t think abandoning running as a whole is a wise move. She actually suggests continuing with your routines, whether outside or at the gym.
“In terms of running – you can run anywhere,” Mansour said. “I encourage people to use this somewhat scary time to try running outdoors. It not only gives you a break from the circulated air (and other people) indoors, but it also trains your body to adapt to the uneven pavement and running surfaces as well as curves and turns in the paths or roads.”
As for the gym, take precautions. Mansour said to not touch your face, wipe down equipment before use and after.
“Wash your hands before you exercise and after. Use a towel to wipe off your face – not your hands. You could even wear gloves at the gym to remind yourself not to touch your face,” she added.
What should you be eating at home?
The salads of Sweetgreen are probably out of reach and the mid-week runs to Cava are no longer. Take out is an option, but you don’t want to go broke, so it’s time to start thinking about what you can make at home.
Mansour recommended the following: frozen vegetables, frozen proteins (like chicken breasts and turkey), protein shake ingredients (protein powder, frozen berries, and almond milk that’s not refrigerated).
“Sticking to proteins and fruits and vegetables is the best way to keep your metabolism going, your gut healthy, and your digestive system on track amidst the stress and chaos of the virus fears,” she said.