By Tracy Griffen of Griffen Fitness
The coronavirus pandemic means hitting the gym or pool isn’t always an option. But it’s possible to stay fit and healthy without such resources, including in a lockdown.
Now, more than ever, staying fit and healthy is essential for business owners. Your health is your primary asset; without it, your business will struggle to flourish. It’s worth investing some time in looking after your primary business asset, and this is how to do it. We all need a balance of aerobic (pulse-raising), strength (resistance) and stretching (flexibility) exercises to be in tip-top shape.
If you’re fit, you’re more likely to have a strong immune system and therefore less likely to get sick. Most people prefer to do what they’re best at – for instance, yoga every day, or running regularly. The trick is to get a balance of different types of exercise, not just the type you naturally prefer.
As well as burning calories and boosting your metabolism, pulse-raising exercise has the bonus effect of releasing feelgood neurotransmitters in your brain (endorphins and dopamine, among others).
You don’t need to pound the pavement or even do high-intensity workouts. To burn body fat effectively, get your heart rate up so you feel slightly puffed, but not absolutely exhausted, for around half an hour.
Low-level (as opposed to high-intensity) aerobic exercise is easy to fit into a working day. Simply get out at lunch for a fast walk or slow jog to benefit your physical and mental health. The increased oxygen flow to the brain assists with problem solving and can even help memory retention. If you’ve hit a mental block (or receive a very annoying email), get moving.
If you’re unable to get outdoors, even moving around in your home or workspace can assist your ‘flow’. Shadow box, dance, do some vigorous housework or take phone calls standing up. Just get up and moving regularly. You can use an activity tracker to make sure you’re moving enough.
Giving your muscles a challenge is crucial to maintaining muscle mass and keeping your metabolism ticking over. As we get older we lose muscle mass, so we need to do resistance training to counteract this. You’ll look good and feel more energised, and will be less likely to get injured.
You don’t need to lift weights to do a resistance workout: bodyweight exercises such as press-ups, squats or lunges use the weight of your body as resistance. With Covid-19 making life more screen-based, there is a plethora of YouTube workouts online.
Be sure you know what you’re doing before you throw yourself into a workout – you’ll need to choose the strength option suitable for your fitness level. Not many people start by doing full press-ups. Humans are smart and adept at moving with the least amount of effort, so it’s worth getting feedback as you learn new exercises to ensure you are doing them correctly.
Many fitness professionals (myself included) offer personalised virtual sessions where we teach you specific exercises and correct your form, so you get maximum benefit from your workout. A qualified instructor can also teach you how to use equipment you have in the house – if you teach yourself weights without input, you’re likely to favour stronger muscles and ignore weaker muscles that often need targeting.
We don’t often think about stretching, but it’s essential for good posture and to alleviate twinges and back pain.
This doesn’t mean you need to do daily yoga (although that is a nice thing to do), but try stretching throughout your working day for a quick energiser, or at the end of a good workout to cool down. Stretching lengthens muscle fibres and aids recovery from aerobic and strength workouts.
If you’re sitting more than usual, chest, hip and quadriceps stretches are crucial. Do a posture check at your laptop to ensure you’re not hunching shoulders or leaning to one side. I use the rule of threes – the three different types of exercise three times per week (do more if you like, but try to keep a balance).
Every other day get your heart rate up, every other day put your muscles under resistance (strength) and every other day stretch them out. You can do aerobic, strength and flexibility work on the same day, or combine them on different days.
An effective regular exercise programme simply asks your body to adapt to a new set of circumstances. And since we’ve all recently had to adapt to new circumstances in the world, now is the time to make sure you’re giving your body the exercise it needs to thrive. Midsummer means there are more daylight hours to fit everything in.
Set yourself up for success and your business will benefit.