2020 should have been the year, right? We all planned to get our shit together and become better versions of ourselves but plot twist: COVID-19. Instead of running down to your office with an iced coffee in hand, busy mornings answering emails or cramming a paper due that morning, chatting with coworkers or classmates, we are on our pajamas sipping our freshly brewed coffees and opening our laptops. It’s a virtual day.
The pandemic has forced us into a lifestyle change. We’re on a lockdown for an indefinite time period, some establishments closed down, social distancing is observed. Offices are virtually open and people are doing zoom meetings from morning till night that most don’t get enough rest! Not only are we physically exhausted, we are also mentally distressed. We forget that during this situation we also need to take care of ourselves. And one thing that could help us is to allot time for exercise – to get that zen mind and fit body – and weave it in our daily lives and fit into our work schedules to keep us pumped up and healthy!
Plan Your Workout
Workouts just like any activity is better done on a schedule, consistent and committed, to make sure that goals are achieved. Otherwise, we’re just putting in extra hours and extra sweat with none of the gains.
First Step: When and Where
Again, workouts are designed to work better when you have a consistent and committed time so schedule accordingly – block it. Determine your free time — how long each day or how frequent, quantify your time so that you know how to manage it efficiently. Block it off your calendar and label as exercise time. Be realistic and pick a time that you can commit to because you don’t want to end up falling flat! Consider the activities for the whole day and your health so better not schedule a workout after an exhausting day of work. Your body will be too tired to get around to exercising. Pick a good space where you can do your routine without much of the distraction. It’s also good to have a variety of these spaces so you can have a change in pace and fresh environment from time to time.
Second Step: Self Assessment and Knowing the Basics
Before stepping into your routine, it is important to assess our fitness level to establish a baseline. A list of what usually goes in this are the following: (1) pulse rate (2) length it takes to walk a mile (3) number of standard push-ups (4) forward reach (5) body mass index (BMI) and (6) waist circumference. You may opt to explore other self assessment factors that you feel you need to do. A lot of health and fitness blogs offer this.
Another thing that you need to know are the basic workout forms. All types of exercises have proper forms that will help you get the most out of the exercise as well as avoid injuries and you might be surprised that even walking has one! It’s important that you know these as these exercises are the foundation of most exercises and most of the time when you try to follow routines on YouTube (which are quite popular now), this part is usually skipped.
Third Step: Plan Your Workout Routine
Now that you’ve got a schedule, a place to work out on, and you have established the baseline, it’s time to design your very own fitness program!
Choose a routine that fits your fitness level and body type and the areas you want to work on. Your fitness goal (weight loss, flat tummy, abs, full body) is important when designing programs so you can fit the specific type of exercise. Another is no one type of workout is a size that fits all. A good workout routine is like a healthy and balanced diet so throw in variety! This also aids in preventing mental burnout and bodily injuries.
Let’s hit the basics. What must go into your routine?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a lot of expert training coaches, a good workout routine must include (1) 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of rigorous or a combination of both per week. Aerobic or cardio exercises are good for burning calories and getting down all the excess fat (2) at least two strength training sessions — a single set of each exercise with weight or heavy resistance to tire out muscles after 12-15 repetitions (3) active recovery which sets one “workout day” (long walk, light intensity yoga, casual swimming). The idea is to keep yourself at motion, maintaining an activity habit without pushing yourself into exhaustion. And one full rest day from all activities. Active recovery relieves soreness and improves dynamic abilities. (4) throw in a variety of exercises like stability and flexibility routines and (5) warm-up before proceeding into your routine to make the muscle warm and pliable. Usually stretchings are done for warm-ups but are generally recommended for cool down.
Fourth Step: Prepare your equipment
Pick clothes and shoes that are comfortable for your exercise routines. This contributes to a proper exercise regimen. And since we live in technology, you can also opt to use fitness apps that will help you record your daily exercises and can help you out in monitoring your body’s reaction to the routine. And lastly, prepare your playlist! Any good exercise needs some good beats to go with it!
As much as any activity, it’s best to take things slow first with exercise. Listen attentively to your body (what works and what doesn’t – do not push yourself too much) and build up your tolerance and routine. Break things up into doable segments and weave it in your daily routine. Do not be afraid to make mistakes! After all, you are experimenting on a routine and even expert coaches take time to figure out and build a good routine.