Your New Year's fitness program was going so well, but now the gym's closed. Or maybe your binge-watching, pizza-eating couch potato tendencies are in danger of going off the deep end.
Everyone's trying to figure out their new normal during this unprecedented pandemic. Comfortable routines have been turned on their heads. And coping with so much newness and uncertainty can feel quite stressful.
It’s easy to get sucked into focusing on everything that’s “wrong” with the current situation. Aimlessly floundering around spending too much time on your phone, the computer or in front of the TV. Making poor food choices.
Instead of dwelling on what’s outside of your control, why not focus instead on finding the pluses of where you find yourself? Being at home presents a unique opportunity for us to focus on improving our immune system and overall health through better diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
We're using part of our time during this coronavirus lockdown to take our fitness to a higher level, and we’d like to share some tips for in-home workouts, healthy eating ideas, and suggestions on better quality sleep.
If you’re in an area of the country where you’re still allowed to be outside, get out there and walk, hike, jog, or bike. Here’s an easy idea to burn more calories. Strap on a backpack with some added weight from common household items like books, a bag of sugar or even a container of laundry detergent (Edd’s favorite). Don’t overdo it at first. Add weight as your legs, back, and glutes adjust.
Whatever your fitness level or activity choice, just being outside to soak up some fresh air and sunshine boosts your immune system. In addition to the physical benefits, avoiding cabin fever will keep your mental health strong.
Don’t have any exercise equipment at home? No problem. There are plenty of bodyweight moves that you can be modified to your level of fitness. Here’s a website designed for beginners with a wealth of information including a 20-minute workout.
We’re crazy about resistance bands. They’re so versatile and inexpensive, and Edd is quickly getting better results than from 30+ years of going to the gym. Learn more from a recent article we wrote for Next Avenue. These are two types we highly recommend:
Got an unused bicycle taking up space in your garage? Turn it into an indoor exercise bike with a trainer that easily attaches to the back wheel.
We actually brought this exact model back from the States in a suitcase a few years ago, and have covered countless miles without leaving home!
When we’re stressed our immune system is compromised. This just might be the perfect time for you to explore the mind/body benefits of practicing yoga. “I can’t do yoga. I’m too stiff,” you say? That’s exactly why it would be good for you to try it! Of course, the studio Cynthia normally visits is closed for now so we both continue our practice right here. There are tons of yoga videos on YouTube and this is a comprehensive website for beginners you can check out.
Most of us are in the kitchen cooking a lot more these days. Honestly, food preparation is more enjoyable for some than others. Try to keep it simple, chunk time making food, and think about ways to keep your eating habits healthy. When planning meals and creating your shopping list, include some of these proven immune system boosters:
Citrus fruits: Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. Your body doesn't produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health.
Red bell peppers: Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene.
Broccoli: Broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables.
Garlic: Garlic can help fight infections, lower blood pressure and slow down atherosclerosis. Its immune-boosting properties come from sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger: Ginger may help decrease inflammation. It reduces nausea and can help to decrease chronic pain.
Spinach: Spinach is packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
Yogurt: Look for yogurts with "live and active cultures" (e.g. Greek yogurt). These may stimulate your immune system. Also try to select brands fortified with vitamin D.
Almonds: Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with vitamin E, also key to a healthy immune system.
Turmeric: This bright yellow, bitter spice is an anti-inflammatory and can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
Green tea: Green teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which aids your T-cells.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of nature’s healthiest foods on the planet, rich in essential nutrients and minerals.
For additional foods and more nutritional information, check out this link on Healthline.
It’s easy to snack indiscriminately or drink too much alcohol because you’re bored. Be aware of all those empty calories you’re consuming. At mealtime, practice portion control. Stop eating when you’re full whether your plate is empty or not. If you pay attention you’ll be amazed how often you overeat simply out of habit.
Fortunately, the Internet is an endless resource for delicious recipes tailored for every skill level. Even a simple smoothie can be a nutritious meal. Get creative, try something new, and have some fun!
Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Yet while experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, a 2019 study found that the average American sleeps only 5 ½ hours. Wow, they sure didn’t interview us!
With commutes and many errands on the back burner there’s more free time for the sleep-deprived to get caught up on their rest. Here are five best practices to keep in mind:
Bonus Tip: Using electronic devices like laptops and phones up until the lights go out can make it hard to fall asleep. The particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. Do yourself a favor: turn your phone off and don’t put it right next to the bed.