Rwanda: 10 Exercises You May Do At Home to Stay Healthy, Fit During Coronavirus Outbreak

With the ongoing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Rwandans are missing their regular gym sessions.

The sweat breaking fun during the bi-monthly car free day mass workout has also not been spared.

However, coronavirus should not make us despair. There are endless options for exercising at home, and boosting our immune system, even with less equipment or space.

During the lockdown exercise may not only help your body fight infection better, according to experts, but breaking a sweat is also a great stress-reliever.

Here are some 10 good choices for exercising at home, but do not be limited by these.

There are more options, if you care to read online, or consult your gym instructor.

1. Squat jumps

How to do it:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms by your sides, pull shoulders down and back without arching your lower back, and engage your abdominal or core muscles to stiffen your spine.

Begin your downward phase by first shifting your hips backwards then slowly moving downwards to create a hinge-like movement at your knees.

Continue to lower yourself until you feel your heels about to lift off the floor. Maintain a flat back by bending forward at the hips, keep your head facing forward and position your arms where comfortable or where they offer the greatest degree of balance support.

With a very brief pause at the bottom of your downward phase, explode upwards through your lower extremity, pushing and extending your ankles, knees and hips simultaneously. As you jump into the air, keep your feet level with each other and parallel with the floor.

The most important components of the landing phase are correct foot position and avoiding excessive forward movement in your lower extremity which places additional stress upon your knees.

Attempt to land softly and quietly on the midfoot, rolling backwards quickly towards the heels. Always push your hips backwards and drop them downwards to absorb the impact forces associated with jumping. Avoid locking your knees or quads on your landing as this may lead to potential knee injuries.

Land with your trunk inclined slightly forward, head aligned with your spine and back rigid or flat. Keep your abdominal or core muscles engaged, stiffening your torso to protect your spine.

Do not overdo things. High volume isn't important; maximal performance for 2-4 sets of 3-6 reps is enough.

2. Press-ups

Also called a pushup, this is regarded as the world's most convenient workout. And all you need is the hard ground in your sitting room or veranda, said Eric Mbarushimana, Karate and fitness coach in Kigali.

Push-ups target the chest, shoulders, and triceps and also work your core, back, and legs, he said.

How to do it:

Get down into a press-up position with your hands placed shoulder-width apart and back flat, so a straight line forms from your head to heels, through your glutes. Lower your body until your chest is an inch from the ground then explosively drive up by fully extending your arms.

The standard press-up is nothing new, but has a huge pay off if executed correctly, building strength right across the upper-body as well as taxing your core. To perform, place your hands two inches wider than shoulder width and lower your body over 5 seconds with a 2-second pause one inch above the ground. Then push back up to the top.

"Push ups are very effective for building strength. But just don't forget that as with nearly all exercises, quality is better than quantity. Proper form is much more important. Do it right and you gain. A bad or wrong form while at it will harm you," Mbarushimana said.

3. Rope skipping

Jumping rope could be the most efficient form of cardio. Just 10 minutes a day with the rope will do you much good - similar to 30 minutes of jogging.

"Jumping rope is a great calorie-burner. And you don't have to be a martial artist to rope skip, really," Mbarushimana said.

How to do it:

Grab the rope at both ends. Use your wrists to flick it round your body, jumping to clear the rope as it hits the ground. If you can, make the move more intense with double unders - letting the rope pass round your twice for every jump.

Skip for as long as you can, rest for 60 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes. Skip for as long as you can, rest for 45 seconds, repeat for 7 minutes. Skip for 20 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes. Skip for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, repeat for 10 minutes.

Precautions: Jumping rope is high impact and requires practice. It looks easy, but beginners may get tripped up. For best results, turn the rope with the wrists, not the arms, and land softly. Only jump high enough to clear the rope.

Variations: Jumping on one foot, alternating feet, crossing the feet, jumping with high knees, double turning the rope.

4. Burpees

The burpee is a full body exercise used in strength training and as aerobic exercise.

Burpees work nearly every muscle in your body. The squatting and kicking back work your legs. The hand plank works your arms, chest, and shoulders. The combination of kicking back and planking works your lower back.

How to do it:

From a standing position squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and place your palms on the floor. From there kick your feet back as far as you can while keeping your arms extended.

As soon as your feet land jump them back in towards your hands, then jump up into the air. Land and immediately squat down to go into the next rep.

If you are a beginner, start with a set of 10 burpees. Rest one minute. Then do a set of 9. Rest one minute.

5. Planks

These also come in different variations. And they are very effective in helping build your core.

How to do it:

Get in a press-up position, but rest on your forearms rather than your hands.

Make sure your back is straight and tense your abs and glutes. Form a straight line from shoulders to heels.

Hold without allowing your hips to sag. Place feet hip-width apart, and elbows shoulder-width apart. Engage your abs, then tuck your toes to lift your body. Forearms remain on the ground; press the floor away from you with forearms.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Fitness experts warn that endless crunches put pressure on your spine and, when done incorrectly, can give you a set of weird, distended abs. Planks are perfect for working your core in a way that keeps you injury-free and builds the flat six-pack you're after.

6. Dead bug

The dead bug exercise is a safe and effective way to strengthen and stabilize your core, spine, and back muscles. This improves your posture and helps relieve and prevent low back pain.

How to do it:

Lie on your back with hands above you and feet up so your knees are at 90 degrees. Straighten your leg until your heel is an inch from the floor and then return to the start position. Repeat with the other leg.

By extending your legs and hovering your heels you work on your core stabilisers, not just your abs. That means you're building muscle you can use on the sports field, not just see in the mirror.

Aim for three sets of five to 10 reps on each side. If you can, just keep going until you want no more.

7. Bench dips

This is an upper-body strength exercise.

This simple exercise can be done almost anywhere and has many variations to match your fitness level.

How to do it:

Stand facing away from a bench, grab it with both hands at shoulder-width. Extend your legs out in front of you. Slowly lower your body by flexing at the elbows until your arm at the forearm creates a 90 degree angle.

Two women do bench dips in a park. Photo: Net.

Then use your triceps to lift yourself back to the starting position. This is easy to do on a chair, stair or coffee table.

It works the arms, chest and shoulders.

8. Crunches

Like sit ups, crunches - one of the most popular abdominal exercises - help you build muscle. But unlike sit ups, crunches work only the abdominal muscles. This intense muscle isolation makes them a popular exercise for people trying to get six-pack abs. This also makes them ideal for strengthening your core, which includes your lower back muscles and obliques.

How to do it:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Place your hands on either side of your head. Push your lower back into the floor as you lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor - make sure your lower back stays in contact with the ground at all times. Tense your abs hard at the top point of the movement, then return under control to the start position.

9. Lower back curl

Start with your stomach flat on the floor with y our arms extended down by your side.

With your body flat, extend your lower back and lift your chest up off of the ground. In the process, do not use your arms to push up. Use your back to extend your spine up. Repeat this exercise for as many repetitions as needed.

Back workouts are vital to develop all other muscle groups, said Anitha Kantengwa, a fitness enthusiast.

She recommends this curl especially as it works the whole back and also "alleviates back pain" from days at the desk.

10. Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks, a good alternative to logging miles on a treadmill or stationary bike, are an efficient total-body workout.

This type of exercise works your heart, lungs, and muscles at the same time. They also involve your abdominal and shoulder muscles.

How to do it:

Begin by standing with your legs straight and your arms to your sides. Jump up and spread your feet beyond hip-width apart while bringing your arms above your head, nearly touching. Jump again, lowering your arms and bringing your legs together. Return to your starting position.

Jumping jacks burn about 100 calories in 10 minutes and no special equipment or skills are needed.

All you need is a good pair of shoes, and a healthy heart.

Important safety tips:

Warm up and cool down before and after starting on any of these. A brisk walk around the block may be a good start.

Consider having a trainer show you proper form to ensure you're doing the moves correctly. You could also watch online videos on how things are properly done.

Pay attention to your body. If you feel pain, take a break or stop your session completely. Do not take unnecessary risks.

Depending on your individual health conditions, however, you may speak with your doctor for guidance on whether or not to do any of these exercises. In addition, if you are new to exercise, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor, or start slow, and keep your repetitions and sets short.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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