The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a work-from-home boom, with many businesses allowing their employees to do their jobs remotely to prevent the spread of the disease. With the line between personal and professional life blurred and a good number of gyms still closed, many individuals’ fitness routines have been disrupted. While at home, some people have also turned to binge eating as a way to cope with the boredom and the stress brought by uncertainty. The current situation causes one to wonder if it’s possible to stay fit and healthy while working from home. Toronto-based fitness professional and athletic therapist Shoni Harel believes that it is.
Harel shares the following pointers that both fitness noobs and seasoned health buffs will find useful.
Practice healthy habits every day
“I think the most important thing to remember is that you have control over your health and that you can really create change in your body,” Harel said. He recommends practicing simple habits every day that can set you on the right track to being fit and healthy. “If health is really important to you, then you must prioritize it, and you can start by doing one or two things for your physical and mental well being every single day,” he said. This could be as simple as drinking more water or doing some light activity first thing in the morning or stretching before going to bed.
You don’t need fancy equipment
Not every household has a home gym filled with fancy exercise equipment, and Harel believes it’s unnecessary to have one. “For much of my personal and professional fitness career, I’ve focused on mastering bodyweight movements, so I’d say you don’t need much equipment at all,” he said. If you are to get just one basic exercise equipment, Harel recommends choosing resistance bands. These bands offer variable resistance and are lightweight and, therefore, are easy to store.
Be aware of what you eat
Harel observes that many people gain weight or fail to lose weight simply because they are not aware of what they are eating. They just eat whatever is in front of them when they’re hungry without knowing how different types of food affect their bodies. Harel recommends writing down everything you eat for a week. For that week, all you need to do is to observe what you eat. You don’t have to make changes to your diet yet. By the end of the week, you should be able to see what you can remove from your diet and the areas you can improve on. “The more aware you are of what you are eating, the more accountable you will be to yourself,” Harel said.
Join an online workout
If going to the gym is still out of the question, Harel recommends joining an online exercise class and convincing a friend or family member to join you to keep you motivated. He also believes in sharing one’s progress to a friend or in social media to make people more accountable for their actions. Harel also recommends following fitness pages online for tips and guidance. But at the end of the day, he believes that motivation should still come from you. “It’s important that your motivation comes from within and that you can be the one to push yourself past your limits,” he said.
While working out from home, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. “Don’t try exercises you’ve seen online just because they look cool. Understand the purpose of each movement and what you are trying to achieve,” Harel advised. For beginners, he recommends starting with fundamental movement patterns that target multiple joints such as variations of squats, push-ups, and hip hinges. Harel also strongly warns against pushing through pain. “If it hurts and doesn’t feel right, you’re most likely doing something wrong,” he said. Harel recognizes, however, that discomfort will always be a part of progress. “It’s important to get comfortable being uncomfortable, embracing the natural burn and sweat that movement can provide,” he said.
With no vaccine for COVID-19 yet, it seems that the world will have to deal with the coronavirus for at least until the end of the year. And working-from-home will most likely be part of the “new normal.” However, people shouldn’t make working-from-home an excuse to put health and fitness on the back burner. Harel believes being too busy to workout is just an excuse. “I treat and train some of the busiest doctors, lawyers, bankers, accountants, entrepreneurs, and athletes in Canada, and they all make the time for it (exercise) whether it’s five in the morning or ten at night,” he said.