Many New Zealanders use their confinement time to get fit and be active, but where to start if the prospect of daily exercise leaves you less than excited?
Most of us reluctantly accept that it is in our best interests to do some form of physical activity for our own health and well-being, and regular exercise is even more important when many of us are. confined to our house and clumsily working from the sofa or the kitchen. table.
We spoke to three personal trainers to get their expert opinions on how even the laziest Kiwis can get up and move – and what the bare minimum of exercise we should aim for each day.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to get started, although the spoiler alert – this is often the hardest part.
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A “lazy person” does not mean someone who is overweight, and can apply more broadly to those of us who are truly unmotivated.
Because of this, Kelly Small, founder of K-Fit Lab in Parnell, says you should take small steps when you start to exercise to help break down those mental barriers.
âStart with a walk around the block each day and slowly increase your distance or pace each time,â Small said.
Alternatively, she suggests doing a short bodyweight workout at home to get the blood pumping.
“You can do a full body circuit with 30 seconds on each exercise and 10 seconds of rest, with push-ups, squats, lunges, mountaineers, and sit-ups over four or five laps.”
If you’re feeling ambitious, try getting 30 minutes of exercise a day – either in one session, or trying to break that up into three 10-minute blocks to help break your workday.
If you’re struggling to get started on your own, Small recommends that you try an online session with a personal trainer who will keep you honest and make sure you get the most out of your workouts.
âOnline sessions are great for motivation and empowerment. A client of mine moved up north and took online sessions as he gained weight and got lazy. He can do it anywhere, even in his trailer.
Take your steps
Sam Murphy, director and personal trainer of Tomfit Gym in Albany, says we will all benefit from walking 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day.
âThere has been a fair amount of research on this and there is a huge link between daily step count and longevity. There appears to be a bell-shaped curve around that 10,000 step mark with a direct correlation to increased lifespan, âsays Murphy.
“You can aim for 10,000 steps, but any increase in what you are doing now is a great place to start.”
It might seem obvious, but Murphy swears you’ll feel better mentally and physically just when you leave the house and get some fresh air.
âThere are just huge advantages to getting out of the house and clearing your head,â he said.
“In terms of mental health, there are huge benefits to going out and being in nature, but also things like blood pressure and anxiety, it has an extremely positive effect on those.”
Gary Mulholland, fitness instructor at Mills in Auckland, agrees, âThere is a lot to try to take 10,000 steps a day, and I absolutely agree with that thinking.
âIf you take at least one walk, definitely try to walk at least a mile or two, just to get your hips and body moving and to feel the fresh air. “
Stretching and bodybuilding
Your body will thank you if you spend time each day stretching to circulate blood and help increase mobility, especially if you’re stuck in front of your computer while working from home.
âYou don’t have to take a full yoga class, but a few stretches like a couch stretch, down dog and plank are a great place to start,â Mulholland said.
âThe couch stretch puts you in a lunge position with your knee on the floor and helps open the hip flexors. Especially when we are more in a sitting position, our hip flexors are shortened, which means that this has other impacts on the body.
Once you start with a few stretches, you might even find that you enjoy it enough, in which case Mulholland suggests switching to light resistance training by doing squats, lunges, push-ups, and a plank.
âTry 30 seconds of squats, which will allow blood to start flowing through your quads and glutes, then you will increase the resistance by doing a lunge. After that, do 30 seconds of push-ups and a 30-second plank, squeezing as loud as you can.
“If the minimum you do is a walk after doing these stretches, that would be an amazing place to start.”