Why is this interesting? - The Home Exercise Edition

On quarantine, health, and staying fit while you’re staying home

Todd Osborn (TO) recently contributed an all-time WITI classic. Here, he shares some tips when you need to workout at home (as most of us now do). Note: he’s not a trainer or physician, rather a sharp guy kindly sharing his recs. - Colin (CJN)

Todd here. When I was in the military I worked out regularly. I never enjoyed going to a gym so I would focus on effective bodyweight exercises that could primarily be done in a dorm room. Nowadays, my only goal is to stay healthy—not working towards any military qualification. I've always tried to take in all the data to see what actions are most effective and adaptable whether a dorm room, hotel room, or any other personal space.

Why is this interesting?

Now that everyone is securely in their homes and has promised not to go anywhere unless absolutely necessary, you may find you're not getting as much walking in as you would on a normal day. Likewise, you can't even get to the gym with all those fancy machines. So here are a few tips on doing a small workout at home. Much of this is obvious but still comes up enough to warrant repeating. I'm a fan of doing bodyweight exercises, so there are a minimal amount of equipment recommendations.

Always warm-up (10 minutes of jogging in place is fine) and always stretch after your workout, not before. Don't stretch muscles that aren't warmed up, you're asking for hurt. Speaking of which, if you start to do a move or pick something up and it hurts, stop! Do something else. Don't "power through." Assuming that you all aren't 25 years old, if you get hurt it's going to take weeks to get better. Quarantine sucks in general but it will depress you even more if you're stuck at home looking at the new Amazon dumbbell you can't pick up. 

Now, one side note to this is you might have some specific stretch you want to do before a unique exercise, but I’m just talking generally and if you have a special pre-workout stretch you need to always do it after warming up. For me (and I think many others) the shoulders are the main area to be wary of. Most people do push-ups wrong, check a video on the right way. I can imagine people stuck in the house thinking they're going to get busy on a "1000 push-up challenge" and quickly damage a rotator cuff. 

I recommend always doing some door frame shoulder stretches first (yeah, I know, I just said not to do stretching first, ha, but this is the only thing). It pushes your shoulders into a place where they should be. It's very slight, but you'll feel your posture get a little better when you do it. For just about any exercise I can think of, you'll get more out of it with less chance of pain if you keep your shoulders back with the shoulder blades down and together. Also, do some arm circles in your warm-up—tiny ones and large ones—if you're like me you'll hear some little pops as you loosen up and it's good to get that out of the way.

If you're doing anything with weights—including bodyweight, like push-up, pull-up, and the like—be sure not to miss out doing negatives to get the most out of each move. For example, if you're doing a pull-up, try to get up there in 1 second but slowly lower yourself back down over 5 seconds. If you want to use a weight right now, I suggest a modular kettlebell. Something like this is good for a small space and versatile. You can get quickly winded just doing swings, and you can add weight as you get stronger without having a million different sizes taking up space. On a budget? Fill a couple of plastic milk gallons with water.

Ordering an exercise bike right now is a great way to get your delivery driver to hate you, so a good speed rope will suffice. Just something simple like this is perfect, and doing some cardio in a confined space will really help you mentally since exercise is a great antidepressant.

You're stuck inside with limited space, but try not to do all your exercises sitting down or on a bench. And when you find some exercises you like, try to switch them up even slightly to keep getting the most out of your workout—you don't want your muscles to get acclimated to the same motions. Also, don't rely on memory. Write down your progress. You'll be able to see that you're getting better and what goals to set next.

Now, of course, this doesn't start working in an hour like Tylenol, you need to start it and stick with it. This newly forced change of lifestyle can be used as an opportunity to break bad habits and start new positive ones. It would be a fantastic twist to come out of this healthier than when you went in. (TO)

Product of the Day:

We have hot water heating and my apartment gets particularly dry in the winter. Now that I’m spending almost all my waking hours inside, I’ve found myself feeling particularly dried out. I have a couple of humidifiers around, but I particularly like these little $10 humidity gauges (they’ve also got temperature). The ideal indoor humidity is apparently somewhere around 40-60 percent. (NRB)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Todd (TO)


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