By Vanessa Fernandez
Although government mandates for social distancing have closed most public hiking trails, recreational areas, and gathering areas, this doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit. While it might seem like the perfect time to sit on the couch, snack, and watch Netflix all day, exercise is especially important right now to boost you physically and mentally. Now you have time to create a daily exercise routine that actually works for you.
No matter your age or athletic ability, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises are the best at-home exercises to do in the least amount of time. A HIIT workout combines short bursts of intense exercise with a period of rest or lower intensity exercises, combining aerobic and resistance training. Here are nine exercises that are “safer at home” friendly, do not require any equipment, and will strengthen your whole body and improve your flexibility.
Do each exercise in each set without stopping, then rest for one minute before starting the next set. For beginners, do each exercise for one minute, and add warm up and cool down for a 10-minute workout. For an intermediate-level workout, do each exercise for two minutes, and add warm up and cool down for a total of 20 minutes. For an advanced workout, do each exercise for three minutes, and add warm up and cool down for 30 minutes of exercise.
Beginner: 30 jumping jacks (To modify, eliminate the jumps and step side to side, alternating legs, while bringing your arms overhead and back down to your sides.)
Moderate: 30 jumping jacks 2x
Advanced: 25 jumping jacks 4x
1. Bodyweight squat
Sit in an imaginary chair, place your weight in the heels, and keep your knees behind your toes. Use your glute muscles to return to standing position, maintaining the weight in your heels.
2. Push up
Lie face down on the floor, anchor your toes, and place your hands just outside the chest to push up. To modify and reduce the amount of weight you lift, put your knees on the floor, or try standing while leaning against a wall and pushing away.
3. Mountain climbers
Mimic the motion climbers make as they climb steep peaks – but on the floor. Get into a high plank position on your hands, and bring your knees in to your chest, one at a time and alternating left and right. If the exercise is too much of a strain on your wrists, elevate your upper body by placing your hands on a wall in a leaning standing position.
Lie in push up position, prop yourself up on your forearms and toes, and hold the core position, slightly bending the knees, keeping the body parallel to the ground. To modify the weight, stand and lean in to a wall, keeping your feet away from the wall, with a slight bend in the elbows.
5. Bodyweight split squat
This is a variation of the squat using a single leg. Jump into starting position from the lowest point in a squat. If balance is an issue, do this exercise close to a wall for support. You can also omit the jump if it’s too hard on your knees.
6. Single leg hip raise
This is a yoga exercise that targets glutes and abs. Lie down on your back, plant one foot, extend the opposite leg, flex the foot, and lift your hips. Alternate legs.
7. Burpee (push up optional)
Get your heart pumping, but don’t sacrifice form for speed. If you do burpees too quickly, you will be gasping for air, so pace yourself. Start in standing position, get down into a push up position, add a push up here (optional), then walk your hands back to your feet, and get back to standing. Avoid arching your back to allow your legs full range of motion.
8. Single leg toe touch
This is a great way to tone your lower body and improve on your balance. In a standing position, kick one leg back, lean down, and touch the opposite foot with the opposite hand. If you have balance issues, do this exercise near a wall for support.
9. Leg raises
Build your core on the floor. Lay your arms on the side of the body and raise your legs up toward the ceiling, keeping the lower back pressed onto the floor. Engage your ab muscles to ensure that your core is doing most of the work, not your hips. Keep motion very controlled.
Deep breathing: inhale and exhale 3x
Vanessa Fernandez is a nutrition specialist with Venice Family Clinic who counsels patients on how to get and stay healthy. She manages our new food pharmacy program where we treat food as medicine for patients whose conditions could be improved with changes in diet. Fernandez also leads some of our group exercise classes, helping patients of all fitness levels reach their wellness goals.