Keep moving despite the corona crisis

As we’re no longer able to stick to our normal (sporting) routines as a result of the coronavirus, it’s important – now more so than ever – to keep ourselves in shape. Here are a few tips.

Text: Helwi Braunmiller; photo: iStock

If you only leave the house once in a while and are working from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you won’t be getting as much exercise as normal. First of all, congratulations on acting sensibly! And second: Don’t worry, because you’re in the same boat as a lot of other people. However, if you’re still feeling OK, there’s no reason not to carry on working out and doing something good for your body. You can still exercise at home – in your flat, on the balcony or terrace or in the garden.

Muscle loss through lack of exercise

As our bodies are not designed for lack of exercise, if we’re inactive for eight to ten days, the body starts to break down muscle mass. This is not only bad because our energy and fitness levels drop, but also because our body’s calorie requirements decrease and we gain weight faster. Specific muscle fibre types are most affected, particularly those of the high-speed muscles.

According to the FOPH, you can still go out into the fresh air as long as you avoid crowds and keep the minimum distance. For example, you can go jogging, Nordic walking, cycling. However, it’s best to avoid high-risk activities that may lead to injuries – hospitals have enough to do without having to deal with sports accidents.

Equipment for home training

To prevent muscle loss, the only thing you need to work out is a mat. Speed, repetition and intensity quickly make up for the training with weights. “However, if you particularly want to build up muscle, you can use cans of food, water bottles or packs of rice as weights,” says Vroni Schulte, personal trainer in Thalwil.

Short training sessions can also be effective

You lack the drive for long training sessions? Many studies show that short sessions are also proven to improve your fitness and therefore your health. Just ten minutes can have a positive impact – if you manage to work up a sweat at least three times a week, you’ll already be doing something good for your health. “In the current situation, it’s still important to get enough exercise, but don’t train too hard, because this can weaken your immune system,” recommends Schulte. 

Five exercises for training at home

“It’s a good idea to do exercises that activate several joints at the same time,” says Schulte. For training at home, she therefore recommends doing squat jumps, mountain climbers, planks, push-ups and lunges.

“Initially, I’d recommend repeating each exercise 15 times and doing three rounds. If you like, you can of course increase the number of repetitions or pick up the pace,” says Schulte. Take a break of 30 seconds between each round. If you can do the intervals with ease, increase the number of repetitions and shorten the breaks. If you want to build up muscle, do fewer repetitions and make the exercises harder, for example by using bottles of water as weights. 

Mountain climbers

This exercise trains your legs, buttocks and torso while also getting your blood flowing.

Squat jumps

If you have knee problems or don’t want to jump, just squat and stand up again and repeat. Make sure that your knees don’t point inwards.

Planks

You can just hold the plank position or do one of the variations show in the video.

Lunges

Here too there are easier and more dynamic versions.

Push-ups

Everyone knows this classic exercise. If full push-ups are too hard, you can do them on your knees (see video). “If that’s still too much, you can push yourself away from the wall with your arms while standing or support yourself on a stable chair,” says Schulte.