It only takes a short time for a healthy person to become measurably less healthy when sedentary. According to the University of Liverpool, just two weeks without regular physical activity can lead to muscular and metabolic changes that could potentially increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and possibly even premature death.
During a time when some are still sheltering in place, physical fitness is an essential coping mechanism for many trying to keep anxiety at bay and maintain a sense of normalcy and well-being. At the same time, it's important to stay safe and practice social distancing. As many are working from home for the foreseeable future and gyms, parks, and hiking trails remain closed, practicing physical fitness at home has become extremely important.
What You Eat Matters
No one likes exercising day in and day out without seeing any noticeable changes in the body. When this happens, it's often due to a lack of a nutritional strategy. Body composition can change through diet alone without exercise. However, it's the combination of both that provides a complete healthy package.
It's easy to reach for comfort foods in times of anxiety or boredom, but it's important to remember what you eat plays a critical role in your overall health. Instead of snacking incessantly, make a conscious effort to go the healthier route.
Keeping track of how much you should eat and how to get proper nutrition has never been easier. Download an app that tracks your caloric intake and how many grams of fats, carbs, and proteins you should be taking in.
Resistance is Key
Muscle loss is a natural part of aging. After the age of 30, you begin to lose as much as 3 to 5 percent per decade. Most men will lose about 30 percent of their muscle mass during their lifetimes.
Loss of muscle means more significant weakness and less mobility, both of which could increase your risk of falls and fractures. Being less active, losing muscle mass, and the aging of your internal components all contribute to a sluggish metabolism. The more muscle you lose, the lower your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories you burn while resting or sleeping.
Resistance training, or weight lifting, is an excellent tool for maintaining muscle mass and preventing a slowing metabolism. A research study with 13 healthy men aged 50 to 65 found that 16 weeks of resistance training three times weekly increased their RMR by 7.7 percent.
Another study with 15 people aged 61 to 77 found that six months of resistance training three times weekly increased RMR by 6.8 percent.
Lifting weights can increase your metabolism, sculpt the body, and make you stronger, so grab those dumbbells and incorporate some weight lifting into your home fitness routine.
The Cardio Component
In addition to maintaining healthy body composition, cardiovascular exercise can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by increasing the efficiency of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The easier it is to pump blood through your body, the less stressful it is on your heart. A consistent regimen of effective cardio can improve your heart's contraction strength, the elasticity of blood vessels, and the efficiency of blood carrying oxygen throughout the body.
Cardio workouts include:
- Climbing stairs
- High-intensity interval training
Staying fit at home doesn't have to be complicated or boring. Switch things up to keep it exciting and utilize a wide range of apps to keep on top of nutrition, find fun workouts, and connect with others doing the same.