Exercises, both physical as well as mental are often the most neglected pillars of lifestyle the moment life gets busy. It’s quite common to hear “I missed my workouts because we were travelling or we had meetings all day or we had social commitments or I missed my meditation because I did not get time or my mind wasn’t stable” and so on. On the other hand, we have some people doing their workout for an hour but are sedentary the whole day , these are called “sedentary active” people and thus their workout won’t reap targeted benefits and hence we should always prefer activity with exercise or activity over exercises . Likewise, if you engage in a good meditation/chanting for an hour but rest of the day you keep shouting or cribbing or complaining about things, that meditation isn’t going to help you to achieve that perfect mental peace.
Exercise is the simplest and most inexpensive way to shed off any kind of anxiety and boost the endorphins aka happy hormones. Exercises can improve blood circulation and thus facilitate the reach of oxygen and nutrients in every cell of the body. Also, exercise induces sweating which further has multiple benefits like removing toxins from your body, balancing electrolytes, balancing body temperature, boosting skin glow , boosting immunity as it has antimicrobial peptides in it etc. One must not use any kind of antiperspirants to block the sweat glands, else the toxins aren’t released and that can create a toxic overload in the body. Exercises when done the right way keeps you moving, burning calories, helps you maintain body weight, maintain joint health and flexibility, preserving/building muscle tissue and releases stress.
Life can get busy with traveling, work, social life or at times we are unable to get to our preferred health and fitness facility for a workout despite having a desire to workout.
However, workouts do not have to be complex. In fact we notice that some of the most effective exercises are also the simplest . Here are some simple ways to stay physically and mentally active at home. These do not require anything, except self discipline. We can use our own body weight for the number of these exercises too.
- Physical Fitness:
- Stairs : You can take a quick trip to stairs – up and down to get your heart racing and get working on your core, glutes and calf muscles too. It’s the simplest and the easiest way to burn more fat. However care needs to be taken if you have a knee pain as it can worsen it if not done in the right manner.
- Wall sits : These can be done anywhere anytime. For eg : till the time you wait for your tea to get ready or coffee to brew , you can do a couple of repetitions of wall sits which keeps your core and lower body (thigh and glutes) engaged.
- Chair: Move to the front of the seat and don’t use backrest and this engages core muscles. You can sit on a medicine ball too if you have one. Since you will be sitting on the edge automatically your posture will be upright allowing you to breathe more freely and thus enough oxygen reaches the cells of the body to help the brain function better, improve alertness, better idea and focus. See to it that feet are kept flat on the ground while doing this activity.
- Stretches: We all know sitting is the new smoking and thus it’s very important to stand up after every hour and stretch the whole body from head to toe. If you’re at work and can’t stretch freely, you can check a quick desk stretch on online. Also, sitting for a longer time can make you slouch and this improper posture can hurt the lower back or upper back in the long run, hence conscious breaks every few hours is a must.
- Post Meal walk : This is the simplest practice you can adopt to make sure your gut health is in place as well as blood sugar levels are balanced. You can do 10-15 mins of mild walking, 30 mins after you finish your meal. Doing it after breakfast, lunch and dinner will make sure your activity through the day is well divided.
- Active loo breaks: You can make some workout targets for the day to finish a list of exercises and sets. If you’ve a busy day, you can choose to do one exercise with the number of sets pre decided after every visit to the washroom. By the end of the day you’ll have all your workout targets well achieved despite being a “busy” day.
- NEAT activities: These are Non Exercise Activity induced Thermogenesis. We can take up some fun activities like gardening, cleaning , domestic chores (getting your own water, food, keeping plates post a meal, getting remote control by yourself , opening doors etc.) , playing with kids, organizing shelves etc. which will allow a lot of movements targeting different sets of muscles in the body.
- Online workouts : With the digitalised era, everything is accessible on tips of your fingers. You can download apps like Cult, Workout woman, Hasfit, NTC , Sworkit etc; or you can browse websites like popsugar fitness, fitness blender etc can be used to bring about the variations and creativity in your workouts.
- Eye Workout : With screen exposure increasing across all age groups, it’s very very essential we spend few hours of the day off the screen and also take short breaks while at work to do a quick eye exercise routine which involves eye ball rotations, contractions – relating and focusing on an object at a distance as well as tip of the nose. A regular practice of these will make sure circulation around the eyes is optimal. Care to be taken to switch phones and gadgets to dark mode in the evenings and preferably use a blue cut reading glasses to protect the eyes further.
- Body weight exercise: You can target the whole body or part of the body and can do a whole workout session. Best would be to choose 5-7 exercises and do a couple of repetitions with some breaks in between for rest. Some of the body weight exercises you can do are : Jumping Jacks, Wall Sit, Push ups, Crunches, squats, tricep dips using chair, planks, high knees, lunges, push ups etc. Also, many Yoga asanas can be done at home without any equipment. Consider seeking a professional if it contraindicates your health.
- Passive Exercises : This is especially for bedridden patients who cannot walk or move. Simply pressing their soles of the feet and assisting them in some stretches like raising hand up and down, raising each leg up and down, neck rotations etc shall help in getting the circulatory and lymphatic system activated.
Mental Fitness :
- Chanting : Chanting a prayer or a mantra can quickly calm you down as you awaken your spiritual side. Eg : Omkar Chants, Gayatri Mantra, Bhramari pranayama.
- Deep Breathing : Most sedentary people have shallow breathing. We have to be conscious and start breathing deeply as the presence of oxygen in the body can reduce the chances of illness by boosting immunity. Deep breathing can shift your body from sympathetic nervous system to parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for rest and relaxation. It can instantly help you reduce BP by certain points and brings down anxiety in stressful situations.
- Meditation: You can do any form of meditation which suits you – via Heartfulness, Insight timer app , Vedic Mantra app, calm app. These are some of the platforms you can explore if you’re a beginner and need some guidance. You can also check for global meditations that are held by professionals and join them live.
- Pranayama : A daily routine of pranayama can help you stay in peace of mind for a long time. You can include cleansing techniques like kapalbhati followed by alternate nostril breathing, bhramari pranayama, ujjayi pranayama, bhastrika etc. Doing it with the right technique will help you reap maximum benefits and help you to slow down your heart rate as well. Pranayama can facilitate more oxygen circulating in the cells of the body. Care should be taken that every pranayama may not suit your health condition and seeking professional guidance is recommended.
- Visualisations , Affirmations, Journaling : All of these have deep relation with a healthy mind and body. You can start gradually to list down things you’re grateful for, things you want to accept and let go and finally some affirmations related to self health. Also, closing eyes and sitting in silence while visualising yourself in better mind and body shape shall work like a therapy. You must avoid using negative words like Not, never, don’t etc while writing affirmations. Affirmations work best when you write assertively in present tense.
For optimal health, over and above these physical and mental fitness, it is also important to remember to sleep well, eat enough proteins, good fats, vitamins and minerals through a balanced meal and stay hydrated. Also, it’s important to seek professional advice for you to be aware of the contraindications for a specific exercise.