Over the last century, machines have replaced workers in many tasks. Decades back we were a physically active race – walking to work, lifting heavy objects, being in the sun; now we have become couch potatoes doing all our work from a single spot, seated and slouched. Though these technological advancements have transformed our living standards, improved healthcare and lifespans, it has also made us the unhealthiest human race to walk on earth.
The digital economy has expanded firm boundaries and driven a fundamental shift in the nature of firms. Physical presence is no longer a prerequisite to doing business: companies provide online services from abroad or profit from intangible assets such as software and intellectual property. Firms in the digital economy can evolve from local start-ups to global behemoths in matter of months, with few employees or tangible assets. Putting an enormous strain on the few employees multi-tasking in various departments. The rise of platform marketplaces is also changing the way people work and the terms on which they work, through the so-called ‘gig economy’.
A typical worker in early 20th Century industry would “clock in” and “clock out” of work. The traditional work pattern was based on a fixed 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. working day. The rise in nonstandard work hours and the shift to a 24/7 economy have been linked to shift work sleep disorder and other physical health problems including coronary heart disease and peptic ulcer. Job strain is the combined experience of too little task control and high levels of demand with little workplace social support, and has been associated with a range of health problems including psychiatric morbidity, musculoskeletal symptoms, insomnia and coronary heart disease.
With the introduction of Corona Virus, health problems have magnified multifold for professionals. Nearly a million people in Canada applied for employment insurance, and analysts are predicting that coronavirus-related jobless claims in the United States could exceed three million. In the midst of COVID-19 and measures being taken to contain its impact, many employees are not just doing their jobs but transforming their job routines:
- Most meetings are replaced by email and IM
- Business travel will be non-existent
- Standard 9 to 5 office hours will be the thing of the past
This is leading to a severe sedentary work style, where office workers are now conducting business from dining room tables, couches and their beds. To counter this secondary pandemic, we’ll have to make our bodies and minds stronger, so that we maintain our values in the organisation and productivity levels. Following a well-balanced fitness regime, with proper diet and sleep is going to be the need of the hour.
We all want to shed that fat ASAP. But for that, knowing the right exercises is the key. Although there are many complex exercises that claim to be the best, we choose to put our trust in the basics that beat them all. For a professional working from home, there are plethora of workouts that can be performed using one’s own body weight. Workouts with weights can be added to the regime once basic strength and stamina is gained. Creating a home gym will become a necessity in future, hence the knowledge of workout equipment, formats and diet will go a long way for health and wellbeing.
Workout regime must include 3 important aspects – Cardio, Strength and Flexibility. Let’s look at 5 important workouts under each head:
Cardio – do any of the below activities for a sustained 10-20 minutes, four to five times a week.
- Walking or Running – In a 2012 study, Paul Williams, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found runners were leaner and lighter than men and women who did equivalent amounts of any other type of exercise. it burns more calories than any other form of exercise as it requires multiple muscle groups functioning hard and optimally together. Also it has ‘the after-burn effect’ where you can continue to burn calories up to 48 hours after you work out.
Try running for weight loss, de-stressing and improved metabolism. It is the most cost-effective way of being in shape and beating the blues.
- Jumping rope – jumping rope is one of the best cardio exercise suggested by experts. It aids in improving bone density, decreases foot and ankle injuries, improves coordination, improves breathing pattern, cardiovascular health, keeps you calm and makes you smarter. Yes, jumping rope can make you smarter, according to the Jump Rope Institute, jumping aids in the development of the left and right hemispheres of your brain, which further enhances spacial awareness, improves reading skills, increases memory and makes you more mentally alert.
This exercise is again very cost effective, where you just need to buy a good jumping rope and a flat surface. You can carry it wherever you go and just 20-30 minutes of practice every-day will tone your body.
- Burpees – Burpee is a full-body workout that promotes cardiovascular health. It provides you with extraordinary strength. The primary steps are executed in four movements, which are collectively known as ‘Four count burpee.’ Burpee is a whole-body workout and is also called Bastardo exercise or Body Blaster exercise.
This is a high intensity workout, which helps add immense strength to your muscular bulk, legs, and rest of the body. Burpees are effective in improving posture, body strength and composition. It utilises muscle groups from lower and upper body improving your lung and heart capacity.
Burpee is an effective whole body high-intensity workout, that helps strengthen your core. Include multiple variations of burpees in your daily workouts.
- Mountain climbers – it is truly a full-body move working on your glutes, legs, triceps, shoulders and maximum benefit going towards strengthening your core. It is a dynamic movement working on your entire core, which is far superior than regular crunches, which only works part of your abdominal muscles. They are also a lot easier on the spine compared to other ab exercises that require you to lie down. Bonus: They give you a nice dose of cardio at the same time.
You can include them in your regular workouts for warm ups, in between your strength moves or at the end of your regime.
- Swimming – if you are fortunate enough to have a pool around you, don’t think twice and just jump into it. Swimming is an undisputed superstar of workouts, which works your entire body and cardiovascular system. An hour of swimming burns almost as many calories as running, without all the impact on your bones and joints.
Swimming is a workout that can be done by the very old or very young, it is utilised by athletes to stay strong when recovering from an injury.
Benefits of swimming include – it works your entire body inside and out, it is appropriate for people suffering from injuries, arthritis or other conditions, improves your sleep, boosts your mood and torches calories. Hence if you have an access to a swimming pool, use it as a cool down workout or an extensive cardio routine.
Strength – start by doing one set of exercises targeting each of the major muscle groups
- Pushup – It is a traditional workout beneficial for building upper body strength. They work the triceps, pectoral muscles and shoulders. When done with proper form, they can also strengthen lower back and core by engaging abdominal muscles. They can be done from virtually anywhere and don’t require any equipment.
Pushups is an effective workout which can be weaved into your daily routine, which will help you gain upper body strength and proper posture.
- Squat – It is a dynamic strength training exercise that requires several muscles in your upper and lower body to work together simultaneously.
Many of these muscles help power you through daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, bending, or carrying heavy loads. They are also very essential for all athletic activities, strengthening your back and leg muscles.
Adding squats to your workouts will help boost your exercise performance, decrease risk of injury and keep you moving more easily through the day.
- Pullup – it is an upper body strength training exercise, which strengthens back muscles, arms & shoulders and improves your grip strength.
Pullup is considered as an advanced exercise, which is more difficult than chin-ups. But a pullup can be modified and done using an assisted machine, nonetheless you’ll still get benefits from these variations.
Always allow for a day in-between strength training to allow your muscles to recover.
- Deadlift – they are high on the list of bang-for-your-buck strength training moves. With one fluid movement—hinging forward at the hips with a neutral spine and bent knees, coming back up to standing, and repeating—you’re working major muscle groups in nearly every zone of your body.
Note – build basic strength in your body for over a month before trying out deadlifts. They require a barbell and weights. Always start with only barbell without weights to get your posture right, once you’re confident about the movement, start adding weight in progression.
Benefits of deadlift includes – better posture, helpful in weight loss, helps improve real life lifts, improves grip strength and increases primary anabolic hormones that aid in fat loss and muscular growth.
- Thruster – it is a well-known compound exercise which is a combination of a front squat and an overhead press.
Thrusters are deemed to be one of the most beneficial exercises since they’re a full-body movement that’s useful in daily life. Thrusters help improve coordination, muscular endurance and balance. They help you gain both upper and lower body strength by working the quadriceps, glutes, and shoulders. Thrusters also help you develop a strong core.
Flexibility – do slow and sustained static stretches 3-7 days per week. Each stretch should last 3 to 5 seconds.
- Cobra pose – known as ‘Bhujangasana’ in Sanskrit, is one of the best exercises to strengthen your lower back and a must do in your workout routine.
It strengthens the spine, stretches chest, lungs, shoulders and abdomen, tones buttock, improves menstrual irregularities, ease symptoms of asthma, relieves stress and fatigue.
Practice this movement to make your spinal region strong and agile. This posture can tone your body and improve blood circulation, aiding in digestion, liver and kidney functions.
- Downward-Facing Dog – also known as ‘Adho Mukha Svanasana’ in Sanskrit, is one of the easiest stretches to strengthen your entire body.
It tones your core, strengthens bones, works on glute and hamstring muscles, strengthens your arms and improves blood flow to the brain.
- Cat & Cow pose – also known as ‘Marjaryasana/Bitilasana’ in Sanskrit, is a gentle exercise that stretches and strengthens the muscles that stabilise the spine, including the back extensors and abdominals.
This simple pose powers up your brain and improves focus, coordination and mental stability. The cat/cow pose improves blood circulation between the vertebrae of your spine and it helps in relieving back pain and stress.
- Pigeon stretch – also known as ‘Eka Pada Rajakapotasana’ in Sanskrit, is one of the best exercises to open hips.
It helps in lengthening hip flexors, lower back, stretches the thighs, glutes, aids in digestion and as per Ayurveda it helps relieve stress, sadness and fear stored in your hips.
It is one of the best exercises for professionals stuck at home as it stretches muscles surrounding your hips and lower back which tighten from excessive sitting.
- Warrior pose – also known as ‘Virabhadrasana’ in Sanskrit, is a pose that strengthens the arms, shoulders, thighs and back muscles, all in one go. This pose is named after Virabhadra, a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
It strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back, opens your hips, chest & lungs, improves focus, balance and stability and energises the entire body.
Practicing this pose will stretch out your body and increase your core strength.
Note: these workouts are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more one should do to maintain overall strength. However, for beginners and intermediaries, these will be very helpful in setting a workout plan.
Number 1 Rule before beginning any fitness routine – Warm up. Start with light stretching, and focus on parts that have immobilised due to long periods of inaction.
One has to be regular, consistent and motivated to be healthy and strong. Other aspects like weight, shape & look are temporary and should not be the main focus of starting any routine. Exercising should be one of the morning ablutions which completes your day. Start small, be regular and see the changes long term.
Look good feel young!