Introduction: Health, Redefined
The 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic has changed a lot of things. It’s shaken up jobs and especially the way that we view the world, among a whole plethora of other things.
We’ve been urged to stay home to save lives, allowing us to perceive the world and the way that we do things in an entirely different way. For many, life has been turned completely upside down.
One thing that’s certainly changed throughout the year is the way that we view our health. More and more people are beginning to prioritize their health and wellbeing.
For many, this year has been the first time they’ve turned on a home workout video or looked into the right nutrition to optimize their wellbeing. Many have been moving less than before.
To cope with an uncertain world, people have also turned to mindfulness and other strategies for coping with mental health troubles that have arisen from difficulties in 2020.
But what happens beyond the pandemic? How do we stay healthy in 2021 and beyond? Here’s our post-pandemic health guide on how you can stay healthy in 2021.
How the Pandemic Widened Our Definition of Health
Let’s face it - life is busy. It’s a constant rush of catching a cab to work, running through the streets of the city for our lunch, never taking a moment to stop.
As we’ve all transitioned to working from home, that busy-ness of the day-to-day working grind has slowed, if even just a little bit.
With death and illness surrounding us, many of us have used 2020 as a year to reflect on our habits. Are they healthy? How is it possible to stay healthy in a world that’s so rattled by an unprecedented virus? These are just a few of the things that the pandemic has influenced.
Staying Home, And Staying Motivated
Staying motivated to exercise at home - is it possible?
When you think about exercise, what is the first thing that your mind jumps to?
We’re pretty confident that you think of a gym full of workout equipment and that word that haunts us
all when it comes to exercise - motivation.
For many of us, gyms have closed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some have reopened, but the point still stands that many of us have had to adapt the way that we exercise to match the ever-changing world.
How do you find the motivation to exercise with the distractions at home?
How do you resist the urge to get distracted by literally anything else? For many, just getting to the
gym can help to stay motivated to do a workout, but what happens when you take that away?
Well, for many, movement just declined, with one study stating that the average steps of smartphone users across the globe decreased by 5.5% during the early days of the nationwide lockdowns.
For many people, working from home may mean sitting down at home for longer periods. It can mean that it’s a lot harder to exercise due to things like childcare arrangements. Many may even feel that exercise is redundant in such an uncertain time, a rather bleak view.
While some people have opted not to exercise throughout the pandemic, another study conducted on over 12,913 people across 139 countries suggested that exercise increased by 88% during the early months of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Governments across the world have begun to encourage people to move more, to increase immune systems, prevent weight gain, and also for physical and mental wellbeing. The lack of commuting and for many, the additional available time, has allowed them to focus more on their wellbeing.
How is it even possible to stay motivated to move during a global pandemic? Well, many people have chosen to turn to the realm of YouTube videos, or Instagram workouts.
Changing Landscape of Exercise Methods
No gyms, no pilates, no classes
With the closure of gyms, many people that have wanted to exercise have had to get more creative with how they do so.
After all, there aren’t any classes running anymore…
Or are there?
One of the biggest things to rise in popularity during the pandemic is the video conferencing medium.
Zoom has taken the world by storm, and not only in the world of business.
Social distancing rules dictate maintaining a distance of around 2 meters apart, so in-person classes haven’t been an option. You don’t need to be in-person to exercise, though!
Many fitness instructors have taken to mediums such as Zoom to teach exercise classes without the risk of spreading Covid-19. Some have even created videos on demand, posted to mediums such as YouTube.
People can learn all sorts of physical activities, from dance to Karate to HIIT workouts all from the comfort of their own home.
In a survey from Mindbody, these pieces of information came to light:
- 75% of people surveyed said that they were using live stream workouts as a way to exercise.
- Not only that but in the same survey, 48% of Mindbody app users stated that they intend to continue with video workouts even after the pandemic ends.
From these findings, it’s clear that the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdowns have hadhas a fundamental impact on the way that we exercise in 2020, which is likely to span into 2021 and beyond.
Increased Self Awareness of Mental Health
For many of us, the pandemic has had a large impact on mental health.
Uncertainty is a big catalyst for many mental health troubles, and if there’s anything that has made things turn completely upside down in today’s world, it’s the pandemic.
Many have lost jobs, loved ones, and have suffered isolation as a result of lockdowns.
The study Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic conducted by the mental health foundation brought to light some shocking statistics about how people in the UK were coping with the pandemic.
- 49% of the British population reported feeling anxious or worried
- By the end of June, one in ten people in the United Kingdom said that they had had suicidal thoughts in the past two weeks
These are incredibly troubling statistics, making it clear that more mental health awareness is needed.
For many, the pandemic has offered us time to reflect. What do we value in life? It has made it very clear that staying home and working out every day often isn’t enough to make us truly happy.
Wellbeing Now: Is It Just Fitness or Is It Greater?
Can we see exercise as a smaller part of our overall health?
There’s a common phrase: you can’t outrun your problems. To an extent, this is true - not everything can be solved by exercise. However, it’s a crucial part of ensuring good health as a whole. There are several benefits to exercising, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health.
Benefits of Exercise:
Believe it or not, but exercise can have a huge impact on your mental health.
It has been shown to help with a range of different mental health-related issues, including:
Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ hormones, known as endorphins. This can help you to feel more energized and generally can give you a better sense of general wellbeing.
Many have even found that exercise can change their overall outlook.
Stress is a pretty common issue among people, especially during a pandemic. Thankfully, exercise can also help with that. It helps your stress responses in your body as it relaxes your muscles and any tension in the body.
Not only that, but it also has a bunch of extra benefits too. Firstly, exercise can help with boosting your memory and thinking. It’s great for helping you to concentrate - if you’ve been having a hard time getting focused in work or at any activity, try putting a little bit of movement into your routine!
Exercise can also help to improve your self-esteem, as you become more powerful and stronger the more exercise you do. Naturally, exercise can also help your physique which means that you may start to feel better about your appearance.
People that often exercise also find that they can regulate their sleep a lot better. A little bit of light stretching or yoga before bed can do wonders for your sleep hygiene. With that being said, many sleep experts do suggest staying away from exercise closer to bedtime.
When many of us think of exercise, often the first thing that we think about is the physical benefits that it has.
Exercise can help you physically with so much more than just affecting the scale, however.
The Center for Disease Prevention suggests that adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical exercise.
Alternatively, you can combine the two. The benefits of this are many. The most obvious benefit is to your weight.
While exercise alone often isn’t enough to lose weight, physical activity can still be a huge contributing factor, especially when combined with good nutrition.
Ultimately, when you are getting movement into your day, you’re burning calories. If you amplify that exercise to an intense level, you burn more calories.
Not only that, but you don’t even need to spend multiple hours doing a HIIT workout to gain the weight loss benefits associated with physical activity. Often, something as simple as walking more can help.
Exercise is also vital for helping to regulate certain health conditions or diseases. By exercising regularly, you can manage or prevent some of the following issues:
- Type 2 diabetes
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s just a few of the health concerns that physical activity can help with.
You may think that working out would make you more tired, but it can improve your energy in most respects. Exercise improves your cardiovascular health, and this means that you have more energy to tackle the day to day tasks as movement is easier for you.
Exercise is especially helpful as you age. As you grow older, your bone density can slow. Regular exercise can help to slow this bone density loss.
In addition to this, people that exercise regularly are less likely to get hip fractures, have a lower risk of falling and so much more. By exercising, you may even increase your life expectancy.
Exercise is even very good for you socially.
This links in with the mental health aspect discussed earlier, as confidence is a vital part of maintaining a good social life.
When you’re happier, you’re more likely to be happy around friends and family.
Exercise can also be a largely social activity in itself.
Having someone to exercise with can give you motivation, and can give you confidence in what you’re doing.
It can give you a shared experience to bond with people over - you may even meet new people in the process of undertaking a new activity.
Of course, during the pandemic, many people have been unable to participate in group activities like sports, but that doesn’t mean that you can miss out on the social benefits of a shared activity.
There are many online groups for people interested in specific sports, where you can find others like you. You could even enlist your family members to participate in that amazing zoom class you’ve been enjoying lately.
Healthy living isn’t just about exercise, however.
Nutrition can also play a key part in our mental wellbeing, and it often goes hand in hand with an exercise regime.
The obvious benefit that physical activity has on nutrition is that when you are exercising regularly, you are more likely to want to eat well to ensure that you keep your performance up to a high level.
Exercise aside though, good nutrition has its benefits. Just like with exercise, having good nutrition can help you to maintain or lose weight.
Many foods that are considered to be more ‘healthy’ such as fruit and vegetables are low in calories, which means that you can eat more of them and subsequently feel fuller for a longer amount of time.
Having good nutrition is also good for your overall health, including keeping your eyes and skin healthy, staving off infections, and protecting your oral health. You are also more likely to get a good intake of fiber and potassium, which are essential for your health.
Having good nutrition can also help you to feel more energized throughout the day, which ultimately means that your workout performance is likely to be better.
How Can You Still Stay Fit and Healthy From Home?
Just because the gyms are closed, it doesn’t mean that you can’t workout! There are plenty of ways to exercise just from the comfort of your own home. You don’t need to invest in a whole home gym or an expensive exercise program either. You may even save money from your home workouts!
Here are just a few of the kinds of at home workouts you can do, in addition to their pros and cons.
Types of At Home Exercise
Top 5 Yoga Workouts
There are a whole bunch of fantastic Yoga workouts online that you can follow while you’re working out at home.
Here are just a few!
There’s nothing like a bit of Yoga in the morning to get you ready for the day ahead.
he goal of this workout is to gradually elevate your heart rate while you strengthen different muscles in your body through a range of different yoga poses.
The whole workout is only around 17 minutes long, which means that you could easily squeeze it in first thing in the morning while your breakfast is cooking, or on a lunch break if you’re working from home. This popular workout is a great way to get you started on your day.
This isn’t just one workout, but rather it’s several different fantastic workouts all within one YouTube channel. The Yoga with Adrienne channel is one of the most popular destinations on YouTube for people that are looking to improve their strength.
Her videos aren’t just for people that have been practicing yoga for years, however. She has many workouts that are perfect for beginners that are just getting started with learning the different poses.
If you would rather have the interactivity of having an instructor right there with you while you exercise, then why not try the FLEX Chelsea Zoom classes?
These classes take place on Kuula TV, and while this is a British class, it’s still ideal for Americans with busy schedules as there are many different classes every day.
Many of them are even recorded for you to do later on if you wish. There is a cost involved if you wish to join these classes, as opposed to the YouTube channels previously mentioned.
If you would prefer to do a longer yoga workout to scorch some calories, you should try this morning workout by the Daily Dose.
This workout is sure to get you pumped ahead of your day and will get those endorphins flowing through your body. It’s an hour long though, so you’ll need to make sure that you set plenty of time aside to do this workout!
If you want access to all of your favorite workouts right from your Smartphone, then you should try the HelloYoga App. This is by far one of the most popular and effective Yoga apps on the market. With this app, you will have one to one tutoring with tutors throughout the country.
With the app, you can choose a time that works for you, along with a flow style and instructor that will help you to do your best. Then you just need to show up! It does cost quite a bit of money which is something that you should keep in mind, however.
Pros and Cons
1. Improved Flexibility
If you’re looking to start improving your overall flexibility, then yoga is certainly a fantastic place to start. A common reason why many people choose not to do yoga is that there is a belief that you already need to be flexible to do it.
Ultimately, when you begin to practice more and more poses every session, you will become more flexible. It also means that your range of motion will be massively improved overall, and as a result, you are less likely to be injured.
2. A good form of strength training
There are a lot of misconceptions about yoga, mainly that it’s incredibly simple and it’s all about getting that zen feeling. Many people may not even consider it a useful form of exercise, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Yoga is not only good for your mental wellbeing - but it also strengthens the muscles in both your lower and upper body. This can help you to get much stronger overall.
3. Improved Posture
Many people today struggle with having the proper posture, especially since we spend so much time at our desks. Bad posture can cause a lot of health issues, such as reduced energy, altered circulation, and headaches. Thankfully, yoga does a great job of helping with this.
4. Mindfulness and Mental Health
Perhaps the most commonly known benefit of yoga is that it’s ideal for learning mindfulness and improving your mental health. This is great for relieving stress too!
When you are practicing yoga, you must stay focused on the present. You need to be aware of things like the position you are in and the way that you are breathing. It’s a great way to quieten your mind as a whole.
1. Risk of Getting Injured
While yoga can be considered a less intense exercise in many respects, there’s still a chance of getting injured, as there is with any kind of exercise.
This means that if you already struggle with a chronic pain issue or you have an existing injury, you will need to speak to your healthcare provider to ensure that this activity is the right choice for you.
Top 5 Weightlifting Workouts
Kettlebells are a great piece of equipment to have if you’re just starting to get into weightlifting - not only that, but there are so many different exercises that you can do with them.
We think that this video from BodyRock illustrates this well.
This exercise is only 3 minutes wrong but you’re going to feel that sweet burn after you finish the workout.
You don’t need to have a video to start weight lifting. There are a whole bunch of apps out there that have whole weightlifting plans for beginners and beyond.
This app provides some high-quality classes and a bunch of strength training tips and tricks to ensure that you’re getting those gains in without a hitch. It also works with many fitness watches if you want to compete with your friends and family.
Grab yourself a set of dumbbells and get ready to feel the burn with this fantastic 15-minute dumbbell workout! This is a great choice if you don’t have a great deal of equipment and are just starting out.
If you’re looking for an introduction to weightlifting and you aren’t quite sure where to start, this guide from VeryWellFit is a good starting point.
It may look simple at first, but it teaches you many of the core moves that you need to know while weightlifting, which will be essential for your strength training journey even as you improve.
For someone that’s looking to build some muscle and learn some of the best beginner’s moves, the Dumbbell Workout for Beginners YouTube class by Critical Bench Compound is a great choice. This thorough workout is ideal whether you’re at home or in the gym - all you need is a set of dumbbells.
Pros and Cons
1. Improved Strength
When you’re weightlifting you’re building up your overall strength. This means that you can lift things more easily in everyday life, not to mention that you’re also building muscle which can alter your physique too. This is especially helpful if you have a job where you need to be physically fit.
2. Improved Bone Health
Your bones also get a workout when you’re lifting weights. This may not seem so important if you are young, but it becomes increasingly more important as you get older when you naturally lose bone mass.
By improving your bone mass through strength training, you may end up avoiding issues such as osteoporosis as you age.
3. Improved Metabolism
Your metabolism can be greatly improved when you start weightlifting. To put it simply, muscle burns more calories than fat does, which means that your metabolic needs are much higher if you have more muscle. This can mean that it’s easier to maintain a lean physique while still eating more calories.
1. Equipment Costs
To lift weights, you need to have weights to lift. These can cost quite a bit of money, not to mention that you often need progressive overload to improve your progress with weightlifting.
That means your 10lbs dumbbells may not be all that helpful to you in a few months, so you will have to replace them.
Top 5 Bodyweight (Calisthenics) Workouts
This short, 12-minute bodyweight workout is ideal if you want to work on your core but you don’t have the budget to buy a lot of equipment.
Upon first glance at this video, you may think that it’s simple - you may regret thinking that when you give it a try for yourself!
For some people, things like planks are a little more difficult than usual, especially if you have a condition such as vertigo.
Fortunately, you don’t need to plank or do crunches to work your core - you can work them as you stand! This standing abs workout is a good choice if you’re looking to work your abdominal muscles.
Kayla Itsines is a pretty big name in the online fitness industry, and this particular workout will get your blood pumping and help you to build some muscle.
What’s even better is that it’s only 14 minutes long, so you could squeeze it in before you start your day, or repeat the video for a longer workout.
This bodyweight workout is ideal no matter what your skill level is - beginner, intermediate or advanced, there is something here for you. It’s 30 minutes long, so make sure that you set enough time aside to feel the burn!
If you have 45 minutes or so to dedicate to getting a workout, then you should give Kelsey Wells’ 45 Minute Strength Workout a try. This doesn’t require any equipment, but you could do it whether you’re in the gym or at home. It also features a warm-up and a cool down - perfect!
Pros and Cons
1. Full-body Workout
Calisthenics exercises are a great way to work out your entire body. With one routine, you can work your lower buddy, upper body, arms, abs, and more.
You also learn a lot of key movements in the process, such as squats and push-ups. Combined with weightlifting, you’re sure to see your strength improve in no time.
With calisthenics, all you need is you. Unlike weightlifting, you don’t need to buy any equipment. You could get a yoga mat to be more comfortable when doing work on the floor, but otherwise, you don’t need any equipment. This is ideal if you don’t have the budget to kit out a home gym.
1. Difficult for beginners
Bodyweight exercises aren’t always easy, especially if you’re just getting started. You shouldn’t let this put you off, however - a good calisthenics program should give you progressions that make the exercise a little easier until you adapt.
Top 5 HIIT Workouts
High intensity? Check! Plenty of variety?
Check! If you’re not a big fan of single-handedly doing burpees back to back for 30 minutes, then you are going to love this workout.
This is ideal if you have a little more experience with HIIT and want to burn some serious calories.
This intense HIIT workout will have you sweating in no time! It will work your entire body, and if you struggle with your knees there are also modifications so you don’t have to jump. You may cry in the middle of the workout, but it’ll be worth it once you’re done!
When it comes to HIIT workouts, Joe Wicks make some of the best ones out there. This workout is especially good if you’re looking to primarily work on your core and legs.
It’s a little tricky and it does involve a lot of things that could be troublesome if you struggle with knee pain, so you may want to look for something else if that’s the case for you.
HIIT can be a little bit daunting for beginners, but with this beginner’s HIIT workout, you do not need to fear. It consists only of roughly four rounds of five exercises, and the whole workout is only 20 minutes long.
If you live in an apartment or have grumpy neighbors, then this is certainly the HIIT workout for you. This is a workout that requires no jumping, meaning that you won’t make a lot of noise and it’s also great for people that struggle with their knees.
Pros and Cons
HIIT is designed to be done in around 30 minutes or less, which means that it’s ideal for people that are busy with minimal time to exercise.
If you’re juggling childcare commitments and a full-time job, then you can simply put one of these workouts on first thing in the morning while you get ready for the day and voila - workout complete!
2. Ideal for Fat Loss
Many people report an increased metabolism thanks to HIIT. It also has been shown to burn more fat in a shorter time frame than other alternative activities at a low intensity. If you’re looking to lose a few inches, then HIIT is certainly a good choice.
3. Can be Done anywhere
If you want to exercise in the middle of a park, you can do so with HIIT. You probably shouldn’t do it in small, confined spaces, but if you fancy catching some fresh air then HIIT can be done wherever you want.
1. You Can Get Injured
The biggest issue with HIIT is that there is a risk of overexerting yourself and getting hurt. HIIT training can consist of a lot of intense movements that, if done incorrectly, can cause injury.
It’s also best to stagger this kind of workout throughout the week if you wish to avoid sore muscles, as it’s pretty intense (it’s in the name!).
Top 5 Cardiovascular Workouts
If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, this fun 9 minute home cardio workout is a great way to get some movement in.
You don’t need any equipment either, so this is an affordable way to get some cardio in - no treadmills required.
Cardio doesn’t have to be burpees and mountain climbers! If you’re interested in getting your groove on, this dance workout to 2000s music classics is sure to get your heart pumping.
Grab your friends and family on Zoom for an extra fun time working out. This channel also has workouts for TikTok dances, the 80s and 90s music too, alongside some shorter 5-minute dances.
If you’re looking to make your workout a little bit harder, then adding weights can sometimes be helpful. Grab a set of dumbbells and have a go at this fat-scorching workout. It also has modifications for a range of fitness levels. It’s only 28 minutes long.
This workout is ideal for anyone that’s looking for something to get them started with cardio, no equipment required. This is a 30-minute workout consisting of lower intensity exercises such as walking on the spot and sidekicks.
Zumba is a great way to get some cardio in if you enjoy dancing. This zumba workout is especially fun. It’s high energy and short, but in that short amount of time you’ll burn plenty of calories!
Pros and Cons
Cardio can get a bit of a bad rep - many people think that all cardio consists of jumping on a treadmill and staring at a wall, but this simply isn’t the case.
Sure, you can do that if you want to, but cardio consists of anything from running, to dancing to swimming. The world is your oyster and you can find something that you truly enjoy.
2. Beginner Friendly
Cardio isn’t overly complicated in most cases - you can often search for beginner’s cardio workouts and you’ll find dozens of them in a range of different forms. You don’t need to be an expert to reap the benefits of cardio.
1. Exercise Adaptation
On the one hand, you get better at an activity. You feel less exhausted after working out. Sounds good, right? Well, if you’re trying to lose fat then it can be an issue.
If you want to lose fat then it means that you’re going to have to do more and more exercise to lose those extra pounds. That’s why many experts suggest combining cardiovascular training with resistance training of some kind throughout the week.
Top 5 Variable Resistance Workouts
If you’re looking for an affordable way to get into strength training, resistance bands are a great choice.
This workout will get your heart pumping all while working all of your key muscles.
This blog covers a whole workout that you can do with resistance bands alone. It may look relatively simple, but it’s harder than it looks.
With this workout, you will learn many of the key moves that you can do with resistance bands for a killer workout every time.
If you have 30 minutes to spare, this workout will show you the ropes of variable resistance training. It’s pretty great for scorching some serious calories, too!
This workout is perfect if you have a mini loop resistance band at your disposal. It’s pretty tricky, but it has plenty of breaks in between the sets and this makes it a little easier. You are going to feel that fantastic after workout burn once you’re finished too!
HIIT can already be pretty challenging, but if you want an even more intense workout why not add some resistance bands? This workout consists of three little circuits followed by a brief rest. This workout will get you sweaty and energized in no time.
Pros and Cons
1. Makes Bodyweight Movements More Challenging
Are you starting to find your squats or pushups are getting easier? Well, to get the same strength benefits, you can add something like a chain or a resistance band into the mix to make it a little more difficult.
You can buy resistance bands for a very affordable price online, making them a great alternative to dumbbells, which can cost significantly more. Furthermore, depending on the resistance level you can get a more challenging workout, so you won’t need to get new bands for quite some time.
1. Should Initially Be Done with Guidance
If you’ve never worked with chains or resistance bands before, it’s best to have someone watch you to ensure that you don’t injure yourself.
How to Keep Motivated with Your Workouts
It’s always a good idea to ensure that you have discipline more than motivation when it comes to sticking out a workout regime, but if you’re just getting started on your fitness journey then motivation is often necessary to get you started.
Of course, motivation can be challenging, especially without a physical gym to go to. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can keep yourself motivated to keep up your workout regime from home.
Tracker and Goals
Investing in a decent workout tracker can be a great way to boost your motivation to workout.
With a tracker, you can see all of your workout statistics right in front of you.
This means that you can also see how you are improving with your fitness as time goes on.
You can also compare your steps with your friends and family members.
Many fitness trackers may do things such as notify you when you’ve been inactive for long periods, encouraging you to get moving.
You should also set yourself some achievable goals. This could be something like telling yourself that you will be able to lift a certain amount of weight in a few months, or it could be a weight loss goal.
By having something to work towards, a specific and measurable goal, you can often keep yourself motivated enough to keep on going even when times seem tough.
When it comes to working out, having someone to work out with can be a huge asset.
A workout buddy can help to cheer you on when you’re doing well.
When it comes to weightlifting, a workout buddy can also check that your form is correct and that you don’t get hurt.
Having someone with you when you workout can be a good way of motivating you to work out - it’s a bonding experience.
Not to mention that if someone is counting on you to show up, you’re more likely to do so.
Workout buddies can keep you accountable and on track for achieving your goals.
Of course, it may be difficult to physically meet up with a workout buddy during the pandemic, but you can always work out via a Zoom call, or you could attend a virtual class together. Just because you can’t be physically together, it doesn’t mean you can’t be workout buddies!
Conclusion: Staying Fit in a Post-Pandemic World
Staying healthy is essential to ensuring that you live a long and happy life. While it’s true that it can be a lot harder to stay fit in a world where there has been minimal access to the gym, it’s completely possible to exercise from home and still have a fulfilling workout routine.
While it can be more challenging to stay motivated at home, often remembering your goals and measuring your achievements can make a huge difference in ensuring that you keep up the good work. With a little bit of persistence and self-belief, you too can stay fit and healthy in 2021 and beyond.