Staying on track to achieving your fitness goals has gotten a lot more complicated in recent weeks. The rapid spread of Covid-19 has forced all non-essential businesses to close their doors; including gyms. As a health-focused magazine, we realize this is a challenging time for our readers. Therefore, to ensure you don’t lose your hard-earned gains, we tell you what you need to do to stay fit during Covid-19.
We could give you a million reasons why we think it’s important to workout; especially during this time of extreme uncertainty. But if exercise has been a part of your life until now, you likely don’t need us to harp on you. In fact, you may be wondering how this indefinite break from the gym will impact your health and fitness goals.
In this article, we answer some common questions when it comes to staying on track and maintaining the progress you’ve made in the gym.
How long does it take to lose muscle mass?
According to this study, you will begin to lose muscle mass after just three weeks of inactivity. Unfortunately this is the harsh reality you will face if you don’t integrate some form of weight-bearing exercise into you daily routine. There is some good news, however. If you start now, you can preserve the muscle you already have while continuing to progress. Also, to maintain your current level of fitness, you actually only need to do 1/3 of the volume that you were doing before.
When it comes to strength, this study says you will lose 1/3 after just two weeks of being sedentary — an equivalency of aging 40-50 years! The research was performed on a group of young males who did not move their legs for an entire two weeks. We took this as a friendly reminder to take breaks in between Netflix series episodes!
I’ve heard it can be good to take time off of training. Is this true?
Yes. There is evidence that shows there may be some benefit to taking a short break from exercise or a planned ‘detraining’ period. So if you haven’t been active during self-isolation, there’s no need to panic. In fact, there’s a good chance you will come back even stronger (as long as you get back to it asap!).
How long does it take to lose cardiovascular fitness?
If weightlifting isn’t your forte and you prefer to sweat it out in spin class, Zumba or by clocking miles on the treadmill, you may notice a decline in your cardiovascular fitness after just a few weeks of inactivity. This means you will need to get creative when it comes to elevating your heart rate by engaging in some form of physical activity either outdoors or in your home.
“I’m worried about gaining weight during self-isolation”
If you’re concerned about gaining weight due to lack of exercise or a less than perfect diet, it’s important to take control as soon as possible. According to this study, it’s much harder to lose the weight you gain during an extended break from working out, once you resume training again. Need some help? Check out our 5 proven strategies that will end yo-yo dieting for good.
Ready to get back on track? Check out our list of “how-tos” below:
Although you may be feeling lost without your regular gym routine, we assure you there’s so much you can do at home to stay on track. In fact, to get a killer workout, you don’t actually require anything more than your own body weight.
Check out our Wallet-Sized Workout that incorporates all major muscle groups without any equipment:
If you want some fun gadgets to help you stay fit during Covid-19 self-isolation, you can easily order equipment online and have it delivered to you as quickly as the next day.
Try wearing these booty bands just above your knees when doing squats, lunges and bridges to isolate your glutes. Each coloured band provides a different intensity or level of resistance.
You can also use a chair as a bench/step and water bottles or soup cans as weights. Now’s the time to use your imagination!
A few other simple ways to increase activity are to take the stairs when possible; park far away from the door at the grocery store or go for a walk, jog or bike ride. Just be sure to keep your distance from others to avoid spreading or contracting Covid-19.
Meal prepping and cooking are a few other ways to be creative. Since you’re stuck at home, we think it’s the perfect time to try out some new recipes. If you need some help with nutrition, check out our health and fitness site @ www.laurajacksonfitness.com. We create customized meal plans that include a variety of healthy, delicious recipes.
Track Food Intake
We realize many of our readers are working from home or are off work entirely. Unfortunately this makes it easy to engage in mindless eating and snacking. We recommend avoiding the kitchen as much as possible — unless of course you’re prepping meals.
Another way to track food intake is to download an app such as My Fitness Pal or Lose It. In recent weeks, you’ve likely cut back on exercise, which means you may also need to scale back on calories. Most apps will calculate this number for you based on your current body weight, goal weight and amount of daily activity. Food journaling is another great way to stay on track. Oftentimes we don’t realize how much we’re eating or how quickly the calories are adding up.
Avoid buying junk food or ordering in
To help us keep our ‘social distance’ from one another, all eat-in restaurants have been closed until further notice (at least here in Ontario, Canada). But this doesn’t mean you can’t buy unhealthy food or order in.
Emotional eating is common when we feel stressed, depressed, anxious or bored. So don’t be alarmed if you feel more inclined than usual to fill your cart with unhealthy, high-fat and sugar-laden foods. Practicing ‘mindfulness’ at mealtime is key when it comes to staying on track and avoiding self-sabotage.
You may also be more tempted to order takeout; especially if you don’t feel like cooking or haven’t stocked up at the grocery store. For those of you who are in mandatory self-isolation and can’t leave your home, it can be especially difficult to get groceries as delivery wait times are much longer than usual.
With that being said, we believe it’s the perfect time to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods. Not only will this boost your immune system, but it will also keep you on track to achieving your health and fitness goals. We recommend asking a friend to get your groceries or planning well in advance when ordering online.
Create a schedule or daily routine
Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, you likely had a regular gym routine. But without access to proper equipment, you may find it more difficult to stay fit during self-isolation. We recommend scheduling your at-home workouts as if they’re mandatory meetings with yourself. Perhaps you prefer to exercise as soon as you wake up, on your lunch break or in the evening when the kids are in bed? In all honestly, it doesn’t really matter when you exercise, as long as you do it!
Here are some tips to creating a routine:
- Schedule daily workouts in the calendar on your phone and describe what you will be doing that day (ie. 20 minute hiit, bike ride, arms and abs)
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to do the scheduled workout
- Stay accountable with a friend by checking in to ensure they did their workout
- Create competitions with your friends over Skype or FaceTime (ie. push up challenge, burpee challenge, etc).
- Join our free 30 day workout program which includes access to our private community group to stay fit during self-isolation.
Click here to sign up for Four Weeks of Fat Blasting. Use code ‘stayontrack’ to get it for free for a limited time. Short on time? Check out our post on how to have an effective workout in 10 minutes or less.
It’s also critical that you get enough sleep and go to bed at your usual time. We get that it may be tempting to stay up late and binge watch Netflix; especially if you don’t have anywhere to be in the morning.
The downside to this habit is unnecessary snacking. In this study, the participants who didn’t sleep enough saw an overall increase in calories due to the number of additional meals they consumed late at night. Also, the proportion of calories consumed from fat were much higher in the evening when compared to other times of day.
And just in case you needed one more reason to lace up your running shoes, studies show that the symptoms of depression increase when you stop exercising. We believe this is especially important to pay attention to right now, when stress and uncertainly are at an all-time high.
Want a few more self-isolation survival tips? Be sure to check out this post.