When one thinks about the different alternate therapies that are out there today, have you ever thought that the usage of healing crystals is one that many place right there at the top? For those less familiar with the concept, fossilized minerals -- or crystals -- are thought to contain several healing properties. From fighting depression to relaxing the mind, the list of benefits seems to be endless. Not only have crystals been used in ancient forms of medicine and by priests to align the body’s chakras (bodily focal points), but today, athletes tout their healing properties and celebrities vouch for their efficacy. In other words, crystals as a form of self-care is growing in popularity in all areas of life. But why? Is there any truth to their power? Do these little rocks actually help to treat medical conditions, promote healing, and boost energy? Let’s investigate.
The Science Behind Healing Crystals for Fitness, Energy, and Healing
We must admit: It’s a little strange to see the fitness community (which is usually focused on scientific research) embrace an undecidedly unproven trend like the healing powers of crystals. Like other types of alternative therapies, crystals reportedly focus on healing your body from the inside by channeling your energy levels. According to experts, crystals allow fruitful, positive energy to flow into the body while removing the toxic, negative energy. They emit uplifting, calming, energizing vibrations that help you achieve a revitalized physical state of being as well as a more peaceful mind. These vibrations are thought to arise from the special way the crystal’s molecules and atoms interact and move, which supposedly affects our human bodies -- and minds.
Keep in mind that humans have been using stones for energetic purposes and healing by many cultures for thousands of years -- which may be why people are so drawn to them. For example, sacred Indian texts explain the healing properties of crystals and how they can be used to treat illnesses; crystals were used by ancient Egyptians for protection and healing; crystals are often found in Chinese medicine; and ancient Romans and Greeks used crystals in medical treatment and for protection in battle. So, is it really that far-fetched that we are turning to their healing powers in modern days? Maybe, maybe not.
Any athlete knows that physical success -- whether it’s reducing body fat or cutting down your mile time -- requires you to be focused with your head in the game. Anything that can help athletes feel more confident, present, and calm is going to be a huge hit (and gain traction!) in the fitness community. We know that performance and sports are just as much mental as they are physical, which is why many athletes have set rituals or routines they do before stepping on the court or field. For some, crystals are simply a way to get their minds in the right place.
12 Crystals in Fitness for Healing and Energy
If you’re ready to check out the purported power of crystals for yourself, the first step is to think about your immediate fitness, wellness, or health needs and choose a crystal accordingly. After all, people use crystals in many different ways -- and for many different reasons. Some types of crystals are thought to be most powerful when carried with you throughout the day, while others are best used during deep breathing or meditation. From crystals that calm your race-day nerves to stones that send your energy into overdrive, below are 12 crystals (listed in alphabetical order) that every athlete needs in his or her collection.
- Amethyst (Positive Manifestations): Meditating with amethyst can help you to visualize your dreams -- and thus make them more likely to come true! In fact, many meditation techniques involve visualizing your end goal so that you increase the chance of it happening. If that isn’t enough, this crystal is also effective for healing and curbing negative habits, helping to see you through dark, tempting moments in order to make the right choice. It is also used to help counteract the harmful effects of radiation.
- Fluorite (Cleansing & Stabilizing): This crystal absorbs and neutralizes negative energies from the environment and is effective at spiritual body cleansing. Fluorite also increases your powers of concentration, self-confidence and helps in decision-making.
- Green Tourmaline (Increase Focus): If you’re looking to deepen your connection with nature, green tourmaline could be the key. Also known as the “Stone of Happiness and Joy” due to the positive feelings and energy it brings, this feel-good gem has been said to awaken the mind, body, and spirit. It may also help to prevent exhaustion and chronic fatigue as well as heal muscles. In fact, many trainers, professional athletes, and Olympians who use green tourmaline report significant increases in endurance, strength, speed, and self-confidence as well as better recovery times and greater mental focus.
- Howlite (Grounding, Focus & Calm): Howlite is said to be a fantastic stone for getting rid of negative feelings, emotional pain, and post-workout anxiety. Have pre-race jitters the night before you’re supposed to hit the pavement? Hold howlite in your hand to absorb its soothing qualities and calm your nerves. After all, self-doubt will almost certainly stop you from doing what you set out to do. So if you need to feel grounded, focused, calm, and confident, howlite may help in every aspect of your life -- not just fitness.
- Lepidolite (Clears & Strengthens): This crystal mops up EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) from the environment and is excellent when used with fluorite on computers and around cell phones. They can be worn together on a necklace or placed in a pocket when using or carrying your phone. It also helps strengthens the immune system, soothes the nervous system and can be used to restructure DNA. Lepidolite relieves exhaustion and aids in the relief of tension and related disorders.
- Malachite (Cleansing & Transformation): If you’ve ever had a lousy workout or ran a race that didn’t go the way you wanted it to, we’ve been there, too. The feelings after a less-than-stellar performance can linger for some time and perhaps make you question the point of all those logged miles and training hours. However, malachite -- known as the “Stone of Transformation” -- can help to relieve you of that self-doubt. In fact, this emerald green stone acts almost as a deep cleanser for your body, helping to not only alleviate those negative feelings but also get you in the right mindset to keep moving forward.
- Moss Agate (Immunity & Revitalization): A refreshing and cleansing stone, moss agate is known to boost the immune system for optimal health. Other stones to consider for this purpose include ametrine and larimar, which promote self-healing and energy, and rhodonite, which treats autoimmune diseases while balancing and regenerating cells. Many athletes find that labradorite can help to regulate their metabolism and treat infections, while carnelian can revitalize the body by improving the absorption of minerals and vitamins.
- Red Jasper (Endurance & Stamina): Also known as the “Stone of Endurance and Nurturing,” red jasper can be used to enhance mental and emotional stamina as well as physical endurance. It is beautifully aligned with the root chakra and boasts incredible grounding properties while bringing about courage, stamina, balance, and the inner strength of a true warrior. It’s also known for helping the body maintain a strong blood circulatory system.
- Shungite (Protection & Purifying): The glossy, black shungite stone (as well as hematite, pyrite, fluorite, amethyst, black obsidian, and lepidolite) is said to help neutralize energy that comes from the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) from cell phones and other electronic devices. While you can place the crystal near your workout equipment, on your desk or where you use the most technology, the simplest -- and most effective -- way is to wear a piece of jewelry with the stone or tuck it into the pocket of your athletic wear when exercising so that you’re always protected.
- Sodalite (Maintain Focus): Sodalite is arguably one of the most popular crystals for athletes. A powerful grounding stone, sodalite is fantastic for helping to release fears and maintaining focus. Athletes often use sodalite to boost their confidence and help them feel empowered to do what they originally set out to accomplish, whether that is a heart-pounding marathon or a mind-awakening yoga session.
- Super Seven (Combined Energies): It is a crystal made up of seven different gemstones that naturally occur together, Amethyst, Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Cacoxenite, Rutile, Goethite and Lepidocrocite. It is a stone invokes a lot of different feelings and covers many different powers combined, such as creativity, positive energy, stress and anxiety reduction, peace of mind, focus, joy, self-confidence and more. One of the best ways to use this stone is during meditation.
- Tiger’s Eye (Vitality & Action): Think of tiger’s eye as a life coach. It’s the crystal that will tell you to dream big -- and make that dream a reality. Adding a tiger’s eye crystal to your daily meditation may help you to realize a world of new possibilities and guide you through the best way of manifesting and taking action toward your goal. So go ahead -- set those dreams free and sign yourself up for that Ironman competition! With tiger’s eye in your pocket, nothing will stand in your way.
After deciding the type of crystal you wish to purchase, you’ll need to know what to look for when shopping. Knowing a crystal’s lineage is sort of like knowing where the food you eat comes from. Since everything has energy, you want to make sure you have only the most clear, clean, and positive energies in your crystal. Ask the store if they know any physical history about the stone you wish to buy, how they harvest the stones, and where they get them. Most importantly, experts agree that if a crystal is yours, then it will speak to you. Although some report feeling tingling or warmth in their hand, others say they just knew it was supposed to be theirs when they saw it.
How to Use or Wear Your Crystals
Once you have purchased your stones, you’ll want to make sure they’re charged -- regardless of which one you choose. Let it sit on a sunny windowsill or outside in direct sunlight (or even moonlight!) for at least four hours. By allowing it to soak up the light from the sun and moon, you are essentially helping your crystals to hold more energy. Then, in the same way that you need direction to be productive, so does the crystal. Set your intention and give the crystal a job, being as specific as possible. For example, think calming thoughts if you’re looking for more peace and less anxiety. Or, if you’re trying to boost your energy and fitness, visualize how that would feel and imagine what that would look like. Looking to win your next race? Feel your heart race as you see yourself bursting across the finish line!
Once you have your intention and/or goal in mind, sit in a quiet space, hold your chosen stone in your hands, and think about that goal. Don’t rush the process. Take your time. As your mind focuses on what you are looking to achieve with the crystal’s help, the stone is thought to absorb that energy, and it is now activated. You’re ready to go!
Carry or place the crystal however you wish -- hold it in your hand during meditation to help with calm, carry it in a pocket with you to help keep you going or to help win that race, place it near your heart by wearing it in a necklace or tucked safely in your bra, add it to an shelf or altar space in your home, use it during your yoga practice, place it on the windowsill or on your desk... whatever works for you!
Keep in mind that there is no scientific research that says crystals can cure diseases and heal medical conditions, mainly because illnesses are not caused by specific wavelengths or negative energy. However, crystals could have some mental (and maybe even physical!) benefits, thanks to the so-called placebo effect, or belief in that treatment. Much in the way that we put faith in our religious beliefs and in the power of prayer, placing hope in crystals and their healing powers might not be so crazy.
The placebo effect and its benefits are strongly supported by research, and the power of positive thinking - whether it’s because of possibly-powerful stones or not -- has been shown to have a great effect on the health outcomes due to mindfulness. Whether or not you believe in the science of the idea, adding gems into your daily life to increase your confidence and positive energy really can’t hurt.
Like anything related to your wellness and health -- from meditation to yoga to green juice -- crystals can be a helpful addition to your routine, but they are not an end-all, be-all solution nor a substitute for doctor’s orders. Whether you are seeking better recovery after a workout, looking for more energy to take on your newest fitness goals, or simply working toward maintaining your current health and wellness routine, consider whether you may benefit from adding crystals to your life.
Additional Reading & Resources:
- How to Use Meditation for Mental Clarity & Decreased Stress
- FAQs on Breathing Techniques & How Breathing Exercises Can Improve Your Health
- 10 Do-At-Home Brain Exercises That Boost Memory & Mental Health
All SportPort™ activewear garments are unique, signature designs, all Made in the USA. Our passion for excellence is what drives our brand! When you wear SportPort™ activewear, you know you are wearing an original, one of a kind garment engineered to perfection.
With a new year comes thoughts of resolutions, and the areas of doing better with your health, wellness and exercise are no exception in those thoughts for new starts. Even amidst a global pandemic when people need to social distance and stay at least six feet apart, many are looking for safe ways to push their pandemic weight off and just stay in shape. After all, any exercise is better than no exercise! But what if your gym is still closed or you’re too nervous to even go because of record-reaching coronavirus numbers in your area? What if you simply lack the motivation to get up off the couch at all?
Ways to Make Yourself Look Forward to Exercising
“It’s cold and wet outside.”
“I’m too stressed.”
“I’m so tired.”
“The couch is so comfy.”
“I don’t want to be around people.”
“Coronavirus cases are surging.”
Sound familiar? We know it’s tough to get started in a normal year, let alone during a pandemic. Our inner couch potato is our own worst enemy, and we waste a lot of energy trying to motivate ourselves to exercise. If you find yourself struggling to get moving, check out these following tips that are sure to help you break those mental barriers and get your sweat on. Keep in mind that since gatherings and group sessions really aren’t safe to do yet, these tips can apply to you whether you choose to work out at home or in a public gym setting that is following CDC safety guidelines.
- Rethink positive thinking.
Studies show that exercising the brain can help promote mental motivation, allowing us to think more positively about working out as a whole. In fact, visualizing the benefits of a behavior is one of the best motivational strategies you can do. For instance, when you are deciding whether or not to take that early morning run, it might help to picture the rising sun and how it will feel on your face. Consider how you’ll feel and what it will look like when you start to lose the weight and develop new muscles. Remember, though, that positive thinking is half the battle -- it’s up to you to make it an action item.
- Remember why you started.
The key to finding the motivation to get up and out there is to find your “why” -- the reason you want to even do this in the first place -- and then remind yourself of it whenever you feel that motivation slipping. Whether it’s because you want to look fantastic in shorts or because you’re looking to improve your overall health, ask yourself if you want to start from the beginning again just because you didn’t feel like working out that day.
- Plan your schedule ahead of time...
...and put these dates on your calendar! Thinking of your workout days just like any other important appointment essentially transforms them from “optional” activities into “mandatory” obligations. However, allow yourself a couple of days as buffers in case there’s an emergency or something else unexpected happens that forces you to reschedule your workout. Keep in mind that “reschedule” is the key word here -- not “cancel”! Need helping getting started with a personalized schedule? Check out our calendar of various free exercise routines!
- Put on your workout clothes.
Getting dressed in the right workout clothes is one of the best ways to boost your motivation to wanting to exercise. Think about it: How silly would you feel plopping yourself on the couch after putting on your sports bra, leggings and running shoes? Yes, we know everyone is wearing their comfy, stretchy yoga pants everywhere now, but… if you find something that is specifically designed for exercising and workouts, fits your body size and shape nicely, and that also makes you feel good when you wear it, you might find yourself moving, running or dancing around whether you want to or not!
- Wear a fitness tracker.
Gone are the days of $1,000 exercise devices. Today, there are many more affordable options for wearable workout technology -- many of which include hourly or daily reminders to hit the mat or take those steps! Some come with food, water, and exercise trackers as well as challenges that allow you to compete against your friends during the work week. From smartphone apps, traditional pedometers, and wearable watch-like devices, fitness trackers can help boost your motivation and increase your steps per day, especially if you have a heart-smart daily goal in place!
- Develop a safe buddy system.
If coronavirus has shut down your gym or you don’t feel comfortable working out in public spaces near others, you can still find a support system, whether that be an online community or a safe close relative or friend. Connecting with someone else -- even if you don’t actually workout together -- can be a great way to boost your motivation. Tip: Create a private fitness board on Pinterest and update it for each other for extra support! Checking this board can be super-motivating, especially if you workout alone, because someone is there with you, keeping you accountable.
- Base your workouts on your mood.
The key here is variety! By basing your workouts on your mood, you essentially get a more therapeutic experience that is sure to keep you motivated. For example, if you’ve been stuck inside the house all day (thanks, COVID!), you might do an outdoor run or focus on cardio. If you had a late night and have zero energy, plan a relaxing session that focuses on foam rolling and stretching with some easier mat-based flexibility moves tossed in. If you’re in beast mode, try strength training or heavy plyometrics. Whatever you do, make sure it either puts you in a good mood or keeps you there!
- Surround yourself with motivation.
Hang up motivational photos on your mirrors, whether they are exercise-specific phrases or just phrases that make you feel good. Label Post-its or sticky notes with positive messages about the benefits of exercising. Also write your goal down everywhere -- on your calendar, refrigerator, alarm clock, computer, car mirror -- so that you have a constant reminder of what you’re working toward.
- Designate a space.
Creating an area in your apartment or house that is dedicated solely to exercise can help minimize distractions that could be motivation killers, allowing you to get in the right mindset to burn those calories. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to involve expensive gym equipment. Basements, spare bedrooms, or even sectioning off a corner of the living room will provide you a sacred space to bust out a round of burpees or practice yoga.
- Make whatever you do your favorite thing.
Let’s face it: The more we dislike something, the less we want to do it. So, if you find an activity or sport you love that gives you happiness and confidence, you might never need to motivate yourself again! For instance, if you enjoy getting out on a bike, you can turn cycling into a favorite workout and even set things up so that you can do it indoors or out. With something you actually like doing, even at a basic or simple level, you might notice your body changing without any extra effort at all.
Sure, we already looked at the best ways for staying motivated while exercising at home just a couple of months ago. But we also know that 2020 was a difficult year, so we are taking the opportunity to once again touch on these awesome motivational tips for helping you to keep your body -- and mind -- in tip-top shape as we move forward into 2021!
All SportPort™ activewear garments are unique, signature designs, all Made in the USA. Our passion for excellence is what drives our brand! When you wear SportPort™ activewear, you know you are wearing an original, one of a kind garment engineered to perfection.
2020 isn’t over yet, and COVID is still here -- just in time to add anxiety and tension to the normal holiday stress that comes every year. Between the gift shopping and wrapping, the meal preparing and cooking, and a long list of to-dos, the weeks leading up to 2021 are likely feeling overwhelming, especially given the ongoing pandemic. With new travel restrictions, a heated election, extra financial challenges, health concerns, and the general dumpster fire that has been 2020 thus far, we’re all feeling a little more exposed and raw than in a “normal” holiday season. Where’s Clark Griswold and his holiday cheer when we need him?
If you’re looking for ways to ease the stress in your life, it’s a known fact that exercise can help by releasing endorphins that act as feel-good neurotransmitters to the brain! But if you’re not a gym rat or you simply can’t (or don’t want to) get moving, what else can you do to relieve holiday stress and actually enjoy this time of year? Let’s take a look.
- Be social. It’s human nature to want to be a part of a group or fit in with like-minded people, so spending time with others is important for remaining healthy. However, interactions really should be done remotely rather than physically since things are a little different this year. Make a phone call or plan a Zoom meeting to talk to family and friends while still staying as safe as possible. Conversations and socializing can help to reduce stress by calming your nervous system, allowing you to feel supported, and giving you a moment to be mentally alert.
- Limit social media. One of the most important tips we can provide this holiday season is this: Stay away from social media if you’re feeling stressed. Just. Stay. Away. Those picture-perfect Pinterest and Instagram feeds won’t do anything but force you to compare yourself to what you see -- which is not entirely accurate anyway. Those images don’t show the family arguments, the burned turkeys, or the insurmountable mountain of credit card debt. Instead, spend your time looking into eyes, not screens. Hold hands, not phones or gaming controllers. Choose laughter, joy, and human connection over retweets and “likes.”
- Give back. It’s easy to focus on our own thoughts as well as material things during the holidays. But these feelings often lead to more anxiety as we try to figure out how to keep up with the Joneses. Instead of agonizing over what you have (or don’t have), why not give back to those less fortunate? Donate money to a non-profit organization, donate warm clothing to the homeless or toys to underprivileged children, or volunteer your time and serve food at the community shelter. Helping others will hopefully help you appreciate what you have and lead to feelings of connectedness -- both of which can lower stress levels.
- Just breathe. Let’s talk about breathing exercises! Oops! Did we say “exercise”? Well, this one can be done anytime, anywhere! It’s also more for clearing the mind or simply for mindfulness instead of stressfulness. When you breathe, you take in fresh oxygen into your bloodstream, which ultimately feeds your body’s organs such as the central nervous system and the brain. When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, inhale deep breaths into your nose and exhale through your mouth. Yoga can also be a helpful activity (that’s not quite as strenuous as a traditional workout) to lower stress levels by focusing on breath control.
- Smile more. Not only does smiling bring joy to others, but it’s been suggested that smiling can also reduce your body’s response to stress and lower your heart rate in tense situations. Studies and research also linked smiling to decreased blood pressure and suggested that smiling may lead to longevity. It doesn’t matter whether your smile is genuine or forced -- your brain still sees the activity and assumes that humor is happening, meaning that things are okay! Pretty wild, right? Did you know that smiling can actually be an exercise, too? To work that smile (and your facial muscles), check out these exercises designed to make you happy and keep you healthy.
- Get enough sleep. One of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal to fight holiday stress and anxiety is sleep. Instead of pulling another all-nighter while binging those much-anticipated Hallmark Christmas movies, put your sleep first. Not only will getting at least seven and a half hours of shut-eye keep your anxiety and stress under control, but it will also give your immune system a boost -- which is now more important than ever. Washing your hands, getting outside, staying active, and resting will all help you feel healthy, peaceful, and strong. Avoid burning your candle at both ends by getting up early and staying up late. Get enough sleep.
- Meditate. Stress can come in many forms: depression, weight gain, sleeplessness, brain fog, irritability, and anxiety, to name a few. If you’re experiencing one or more of these, it’s understandable to want to clear some headspace, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Enter meditation. Did you know that meditating can fight stress, decrease anxiety, boost your mood, and even curb unhealthy cravings? There are many different ways to practice meditation, but it’s often recommended to start slow and simple and build to more complex techniques as you progress.
- Eat healthy. It goes without saying that you’ll need as much energy as you can get to make it through the busiest time of the year, so cook wholesome meals with nourishing ingredients and make eating healthy a priority. We’re not saying you have to pass on eating Grandma’s famous sugar cookies or watching “A Christmas Story” with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, but consuming too much sugar disrupts your brain’s neurotransmitters, your insulin and blood sugar levels, and your natural hormone responses. Combine that with a packed schedule and a lack of sleep from too much caffeine, and you’ve got a recipe for a rush of stress and anxiety. Opt for these 10 healthy foods to reduce stress and boost your immune system.
- Keep a journal. There are many reasons one might keep a journal. From prayer journals and gratitude journals to dream journals and travel journals, we keep daily writings for many different aspects of our lives. Recording the day’s events and making observations is important for understanding our world. In fact, without diarists like Samuel Pepys and Anne Frank, we wouldn’t have nearly the amount of historical knowledge that we do. Try your hand at journaling by writing down three positive things that happened to you each day, no matter how small or meaningless they may seem. Describe these bright spots as best you can and make note of the role you played in each one. You’ll boost your mindfulness and be more aware of how much control you have over the happy moments in your life.
- Take a shower. Don’t underestimate the healing powers of a shower -- and a locked door. Hydrotherapy is the use of water, both externally and internally, at different temperatures for health purposes. For instance, the steam in hot showers acts as a natural decongestant that can break up stuffiness, while cold showers are known to improve blood circulation, increase endorphins, and decrease cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. Also, a chilly shower may temporarily take your mind off of your stress since you’re more likely to focus on the temperature of the water itself. This mindful practice keeps you in the moment rather than worried about things that you can’t control. Consider adding a eucalyptus plant in the shower or room to make the space all the more rejuvenating and relaxing.
- Create a relaxing environment. After all, your home should be a tranquil retreat. The last thing you want to do after a long, busy day is return to a chaotic and hectic house, which can ultimately exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress. To create a positive space, decorate quickly and simply by choosing one item like bows, miniature trees in various sizes, or ornaments in decorative bowls. Use that item in abundance instead of trying to pair different items together. Looking for soft lighting? Set up some aromatherapy candles designed to calm and relax. We also love using tea lights across a mantle or along windowsills. Finally, add easy ambiance with some holiday carols or soft, jazzy music -- whatever eases your stress and puts you in the holiday spirit.
- Engage in safe sex. If you have a partner living with you safely in your home, don’t forget the value of intimacy and sex on stress. Not only does it feel good, but sex can also alleviate pain, bolster your immune system, and make you happy -- all things necessary for getting us through the go-go-go of the holidays. Keep in mind that stress can also have a hand in low libido, particularly during this busy season, but even simple acts like hugging and touching can boost your self-esteem and happiness, too.
- Stay at home. Most of us would love to travel to visit our family and friends during this holiday season. After all, 2020 has been a roller coaster of a year for everyone, and there’s nothing we’d love more than to relish the companionship of our loved ones. Unfortunately, taking a trip just isn’t the safest thing to do in a pandemic -- but that might not stop others from asking you to visit. If you’re feeling guilty about staying home, there are nice ways to say “no” to visits, trips, or social gatherings. To take the stress out of declining a social gathering, suggest an alternative way to hang out, keep your response honest, make your answer short and sweet, and be positive. Remember: It’s absolutely okay to say “no.”
Regular exercise has many benefits for your overall health -- mentally, physically, and emotionally. It can help to increase your focus, energy, and self-confidence while lowering your anxiety and stress levels. However, exercise is not the only way to reduce your stress levels this holiday season. If you’re feeling worried or anxious because your holiday plans look different during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not the only one. But with some practical tips and helpful advice, you can minimize the stress that usually accompanies the holidays and instead find some peace and joy. You might even end up enjoying this season more than you expected.
All SportPort™ activewear garments are unique, signature designs, all Made in the USA. Our passion for excellence is what drives our brand! When you wear SportPort™ activewear, you know you are wearing an original, one of a kind garment engineered to perfection.
Is COVID-fatigue bringing on exercise-fatigue? Is your gym not able to open yet due to restrictions in your area or have you recently been informed that it will shut its doors yet again? Is it starting to get too cold to be outside? Well, we know life in general hasn’t been easy over the past several months, but keeping your distance and staying at home is still the safest thing you can do. To help chip away at the cabin fever you might be feeling, here are some practical and fun ideas for staying motivated to remain at home and either start -- or keep -- exercising.
10 Tips to Stay Motivated and Workout at Home
We get it. It’s not easy to stay motivated while working out at home -- especially if you live by yourself. While it’s certainly tempting to cozy up on the couch and binge your favorite Netflix series rather than hit the mat for that dreaded workout routine, don’t throw in the motivational towel just yet. Below are 10 tips or tricks to try that will hopefully make it much easier (and more exciting!) for you to exercise without stepping foot outside your house.
- Make a plan.
The first thing to do when trying to stay more motivated is to create a clear plan with milestones for the coming weeks and months. Focus on actionable, small goals like “I want to work out five days a week” instead of dwelling on the big picture like “I want to lose 50 pounds.” While a variety of exercises like stretching, cardio, and strength training works best, every “body” is different. Make it a point to check in with your plan from time to time to make sure you’re staying the course.
- Create a dedicated space.
If possible, try to find a room or safe area in your home to do your workout without risking injury, and make sure it’s also a spot you actually enjoy being in! While you certainly don’t need to go crazy and buy the latest, fanciest home exercise equipment to create your own personal gym, having one room solely for working out can make exercising more of a reality and less of a chore. If you don’t have the space for an entire room, even something as simple as the corner of your living room where you keep some free weights and a treadmill can be just as effective.
- Schedule your routine.
Think about how many days you want or need to work out and physically schedule these dates on your calendar -- just like you would a doctor’s visit or dentist appointment. It might seem pointless and unnecessary at first, but when you plan your workouts ahead of time, you are essentially moving them from the “optional” category to the “must-do” category. Make sure to leave a day or two open as a buffer in case something unexpected comes up and you need to reschedule your workout that day.
- Use our calendar of free, different exercise routines to create your own personalized schedule.
- Keep a workout log.
Whether it’s a file in your phone’s Notes app or a physical book, tracking body fat percentage and measurements like weight as well as the progress you make after every workout will keep you motivated more than analyzing yourself in the mirror every morning will. Being able to see on the screen -- or in print -- that your hard work is paying off can be exactly what you need to stick to your workout routine.
- Find a partner or community.
Just because you’re not going to the gym doesn’t mean you’re in this alone. Whether it’s an online community, a close friend or relative, or a few people you invite into your home (safely, of course!) every week or even once a month to exercise, finding real-life support and friendly competition can be a huge motivational boost. You might also consider meeting other fitness-oriented people on social media or organizing a group workout on Zoom -- whatever it takes to motivate you to keep exercising regularly.
- Turn your workout into a game.
If you find your workouts are getting dull and repetitive and you’re often lacking the motivation to do them at all, why not turn exercise into a game? Boasting more than 200 missions and 1 million participants, Zombies, Run! is just one popular downloadable fitness game. This app turns what would otherwise be a boring run into a survival adventure as you collect supplies to dodge zombies, build a town, and explore with each mile you run. Zombies not your thing? Try RockMyRun, an app designed for music lovers that plays music with tempos based on your steps per minute or heart rate. Check out some of these other fun at-home activities that are more like a game than a workout!
- Set (realistic) goals.
You must create goals for yourself, especially if you are working out without anyone to push you. Your goals can be large or small -- whatever works for you. For example, you might have a goal of doing 10 pushups in a row without putting your knees to the floor or a goal of holding a squat for 30 seconds. Signing up for some type of event or race -- if done with proper precautions, of course -- can also be an excellent goal and motivator. Whatever you choose, make sure you are working toward something tangible instead of simply exercising just because you should.
- Reward yourself.
No, we don’t mean that you should grab a Snickers every time you successfully complete a workout, but rewarding yourself with something tangible when you accomplish your goals can be a wonderful motivator. This could be a new piece of exercise equipment for your home, a nice dinner out with your significant other, or that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. The important thing is to make sure that you really, really want that reward so that you are truly motivated. In other words, that kale smoothie is probably not going to cut it.
- Switch up your routine.
It goes without saying that doing the same workout day in and day out will get pretty boring pretty fast, particularly because your body adapts to repetitions. When you switch things up, you’ll be more likely to stick to your regimen and thus avoid mental boredom. To make your workout routines more interesting and less monotonous, try to spice things up by setting up stations with kettlebells, exercise bands, jump ropes, and weights. Get outdoors on nice days and go for a run or walk laps around your yard and home. Run up and down your stairs in between your weightlifting sessions. When you find your body is sore at the end of the week, try Zumba, Pilates, or Yoga as a reward.
- Get new workout clothes.
If you’ve been living in your yoga pants (and you’re definitely not the only one!), try to set aside a good pair of leggings just for when you exercise. Sure, you won’t be heading to the gym, but you’ll want to have your gym shoes and clothes within reach. Some studies have found that what you wear during your workout can have a direct impact on your performance -- a psychological phenomenon known as enclothed cognition*. Plus, buying a new workout outfit, leggings, or sports bra can be an awesome treat or reward when you meet your fitness goals!
While the country is still finding ways to navigate a “new normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic, you might be finding it hard to stick to your regular workout routine -- or even feel motivated to exercise at all. However, engaging in routine physical activity on a regular basis will not only benefit your physical health in the long run but also help to take away some of the stress and anxiety you might be experiencing. Sure, working out can be hard and downright miserable at times, but Stephen Hawking says it best: “half the battle is just showing up.” Let's get going and get there!
* enclothed cognition: a term that relates to the effect which clothing has upon a person’s mental process and the way they think, feel, and function, in areas like attention, confidence, or abstract thinking.
Would you believe us if we said that sitting like your ancestors could save your health? You’d probably be at least a little skeptical. After all, the science surrounding our health is often boiled down to the idea of eating healthy, sleeping well, getting on your feet and exercising regularly, and our bodies will be in tip-top shape. Rarely do we hear anything suggesting that the things we sit on and the way we sit might be impacting our bodies. But is there truth in this? Are we missing a crucial part of our workouts?
Some experts maintain sitting in chairs and on sofas all day, every day destroys the quality of our connective tissues, movements, and overall health. More importantly, we’re neglecting to use “archetypal resting positions” that have been in place and utilized by humans for hundreds of thousands of years. To put it simply, sitting on sofas and chairs isn’t great for our bodies, but what’s even worse is that we’re not taking advantage of the handful of ancestral floor positions that could actually help us.
Wait, What’s Wrong With Chairs?
Once a luxury item reserved only for the upper classes, chairs are now common-place in our lives. The typical Neolithic humans sat on benches, chests, or the ground until the time came when chairs were readily available and affordable for everyone. But paleolithic posteriors weren’t designed with chairs in mind; humans were meant to squat, kneel, and rest upon stumps and logs and rocks when they needed to take a break.
Sitting in chairs pushes weight on our glutes incorrectly, making them weak, loose, and inactive since, over time, most of us have forgotten how to activate our butt muscles. Sitting also keeps our hip flexors in a contracted, tight, short position for long periods of time. The result? Full hip extension and possibly even the hunched over position that we often see in older folks. Plus, there’s an extensive (and growing!) amount of literature that shows how sitting for too long increases degenerative disease and mortality. Scary, right?
What’s even more frightening is that sitting in a chair doesn’t allow us to rest in a full squat position -- something we know how to do when we’re born but forget how to do as we get older. Sitting becomes a passive act, where we’re slumped over with rounded shoulders and our feet twisted up. Rather than depending on a chair to support our weight, we should be relying on our muscles and skeletal system to support ourselves. So, are there any benefits to going back in time? Did our ancestors have it correct from the very beginning?
What are the Benefits of Archetypal Resting Positions?
Where we sit, and the way we do it, changes the way our bodies function. In countries where floor living and squatting are woven throughout everyday life, people are still able to retain mobility and function well into their golden years. Unfortunately, here in Western countries, where we stop floor living around four or five years of age, we might never quite reach that point -- but we can do much better than we are right now.
In fact, by hanging out on the floor more, we may begin to notice improved glucose tolerance and enhanced recovery from workouts as well as increased range of motion, more muscle activity, and increased flexibility. Prolonged chair-sitting can make your hips feel stiff and tight, but sitting on the floor allows you to easily stretch those hip flexors. Ultimately, these archetypal sitting positions encourage natural stability since, without the support of a sofa or chair, sitting on the floor forces your body to engage its core for stabilization.
Sitting Stiffness, Aches & Pains
Feeling stiff or aches and pain after sitting for long periods of time? Your muscles might not be to blame. While basic stretching can increase your range of motion, it does little to boost your flexibility. In other words, your range of motion is how well your muscles can elongate, while flexibility is how well you move in all directions, including lengthening, torsion, and contraction. The key to boosting flexibility? Engaging the fascia tissue in your body.
What is Fascia Tissue?
Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that almost resembles a spider’s web. Fascia surrounds and keeps every muscle, nerve fiber, blood vessel, and organ in place. This tissue does more than simply provide structure to our internal bodies; it also has tiny nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. The key to increasing your flexibility and range of motion is to find as many different ways to contact the ground as you can and use gravity to stretch your fascia in as many positions as you are comfortable.
6 Archetypal Resting Positions You Can Incorporate Easily Today
Ready to get back to Earth with some ancient habits that can actually renew and rejuvenate the body? Below we’ve outlined some easy, no-impact, ground-based resting workouts that you can do inside on the floor or outside on the ground -- wherever you feel most comfortable!
- Full Squat: This is one of the most ancient default sitting or resting positions before the invention of chairs. Start by standing with your feet planted on the floor and hip-width apart. Slowly lower your butt until its just inches above the floor. Although it might be easier to rest on the balls of your feet, the goal here is to get (and keep!) your heels on the ground. This position stretches the back, glutes, quads, and calves.
- Side Sit: Also known as the “z-sit,” begin by sitting with your butt flat on the ground. Lower your knees to the left and position them on the floor. Rest the bottom of your left foot against the front of your right thigh. Make sure you keep your spine neutral by ensuring both hips are on the floor. Repeat in the opposite direction. This position stretches the inner thighs as well as the external and internal hip rotators.
- Long Sit: A sitting position that comes easier to some people than others, the long sit involves sitting on the floor with your legs extended straight ahead of you. Flex your toes and point them upward, making sure your belly is positioned over your hips. This position stretches the quad muscles and hamstrings. From the long sit, you can also transition into a straddle sit by moving your legs wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Low Kneel: Kneeling is a common position with several variations, including a high and a low kneel. The low kneel involves sitting with your knees on the floor and your butt on your heels. In Japanese culture, this position is called “seiza.” You can choose to point your toes either up or back -- whichever feels more comfortable! This position stretches the quads, Achilles tendon, and fascia in the feet.
- Half Kneel: Similar to the low kneel, the half kneel involves keeping one leg flat and perpendicular to the floor and bending the other knee so that the foot is planted flat on the floor. This position is great for reducing pressure on your knees and is helpful for stretching the quads, Achilles tendon, and fascia in the feet.
- Cross-Legged Sit: A common yoga position and one of the more natural ways to sit, the cross-legged sit involves sitting on the ground with your legs crossed in front of you -- either with your feet flat against each other or at the calves or ankles. Try decreasing pressure on your hips by placing cushions beneath or knees or sitting on the edge of a folded blanket. This move is beneficial for those looking to stretch the hip adductors and rotators.
- Make Up Your Own! Our limbs are bendy, funny things, and we have the ability to contort ourselves into many different positions. As long as you’re on the floor, able to support your own weight, and feel comfortable doing it, it’s hard to hurt yourself. Our bodies are great at letting us know when something’s about to go really wrong. So, if your toes go tingly or your arm begins to get numb, switch it up! Come up with your own variation for sitting on the floor or ground and report back!
There’s no need to feel lazy on the sofa while watching TV or sitting still behind a desk at work all day! Toss the chair aside and plop yourself on the floor, propping your TV or computer screen up on a low-sitting table or shelf. Keep in mind that there is no right way to do this. There is no wrong way to do this. There is no perfect amount of time to spend in each position. Simply listen to your body and change positions to get more comfortable… and healthy!
Looking for free at-home online exercises, meditations, health & fitness workout ideas?
We’ve put together a great selection of totally FREE (no trials, no credit cards) events, classes and instructions in a monthly Calendar form to cover you for each and every day, and for any day you choose. We’ve made sure to include an “add to calendar” option so you can pick your favorites to create your own personalized workout schedule.
Have another favorite virtual workout or event that’s online, free, and can be done at-home? Let us know and we will share it for all our workout friends to see, access and do… together!
Let’s stay fit. Let’s do it at home!
Find new & more safety phone apps: Safety APPs for Runners - 2020 Update - Free or Low-Cost
Safety for runners, particularly women, is a growing concern. Many women who enjoy running off the beaten path or during the dark hours of the night or early morning might find themselves worrying about the risks associated with being alone while out running. However, there are many things runners can do to help protect themselves and reduce the risk of danger while running, including choosing different routes, running with a group of people, staying focused on their surroundings, running in high-traffic areas, and taking advantage of running apps.
A few years ago, runners were limited to bulky tools or difficult to handle or manage devices, but technology has since evolved, allowing us to carry lightweight, handy smart phones that we can easily port in our sportswear or sports bras with built-in pockets. Here are five highly rated phone apps for both iOS and Android phone users that can help to ensure a safer run for those who enjoy pounding the pavement on their own.
5 Phone Apps That Keep Runners Safe
1. ROAD iD
The ROAD iD app gives a nod to the story of Hansel and Gretel as it allows you to leave “eCrumbs” for up to five chosen friend or family contacts. These contacts can track your running route via text or email, and they receive an alert when you stop moving. The app refreshes itself every 30 seconds, so it communicates your location in real-time. Not only is the alert fantastic for motivation since it ultimately means you can’t take a long rest break, but it’s also a good way to keep friends and family in the loop should something happen to you.
Available for iOS and Android Phones
StaySafe is another app centered around location-based tracking. If you fail to check in when the timer goes off, the app automatically notifies your contacts and sends your location via SMS or email — even if your phone is damaged, turned off, or if the battery dies. The app also features an auto-inform service, which lets your contacts know when you manually stop your run, as well as two PIN numbers: one for canceling alerts and alarms and another for duress or life-threatening situations. For instance, if someone is forcing you to enter a PIN to cancel the alert, the app will appear to shut down, but using the duress PIN will still allow your emergency contacts to receive a message with your GPS location.
Available for iOS and Android Phones
Similar to Bugle, RunRaegis notifies your contacts when you set out on your run, and it tracks you as you go. If you don’t come back in the pre-set time, the app will set up smart alerts to notify your contacts. Female runners may also appreciate the panic button feature which, when activated, alerts your contacts, connects them to 911, and sends a blast to all runners on the RunRaegis network who are at or near your last known location.
Available for iOS and Android Phones
Think of bSafe as an Uber tracking system for runners. It not only follows you as you go, but it also features an alarm that, when activated, triggers your network and sends a message with your location and a 10-second video that starts to record as soon as you activated the alarm. Thanks to the app’s GPS tracking feature, friends and family can also follow you — virtually, of course — as you go.
Available for iOS and Android Phones
Similar to bSafe, friends and family do not need the Glympse app in order to view your location in real-time. Although Glympse can be used for a variety of situations such as driving home from work, finding out when a late colleague will arrive, and letting friends and family know you’re on your way, it is becoming increasingly popular among runners. With Glympse, you can share your location for up to four hours. Simply select a contact, set the expected duration of your run, and hit the pavement.
Available for iOS and Android Phones
These days, many women runners are turning to technology to help improve their sense of security. However, in addition to these technology advancements, it’s also important that you remain aware of your surroundings, let people know where you’re going, stay in high-traffic areas, and know your routes. Combining common sense with the latest phone safety apps will hopefully allow you to enjoy your run with as little worry as possible.
With tons of running apps to help you get started or find a good path or trail, we like focusing on the apps that are either designed for safety or include an added safety option for you. Here are some of our favorite free or low-cost runner’s APPs that bring a safety feature for you on your run. Of course all of these can be used to track or trace you wherever you go and not just for running, jogging or exercising.
SportPort activewear features a patent protected phone pocket that shields your body from EMF and designed into many of its sports bras and sport tops for you to safely and securely carry your cell phone while you exercise or on a run.
5+ Phone Apps That Help Keep Runners Safe
1) Road iD
Remains on our list of top safety apps for runners. You can allow friends and family to track you in real time using the eCrumb feature which follows you much like Hansel & Gretel used in their story to help trace and find their way home. The app creates an "electronic breadcrumb" trail for your designated friends and family to follow along via a map link sent through email or SMS.
If you prefer, Road iD also uses physical wearables, bracelets and tags, that have been helping keep runners (and pets) safe for years.
In addition, the app can also set up an In Case of Emergency card with your emergency contacts, as well as health information like blood type and allergies that you can use as a lock-screen wallpaper.
Free, extra for accessories and wearables: https://www.roadid.com/
Available for iOS and Android Phones
2) Strava Beacon
The free Strava app is a running tracker and has a variety of training features. The app can record your running speed, distance traveled, time and course taken for metrics and tracking, but can also combine all that with leaderboards, achievements and challenges as you race against your friends.
You’ll have to upgrade to a paid monthly subscription to get access to advanced safety features like Beacon. Strava Beacon allows you to share your location and route details in real time with three designated friends or family safety contacts.
Strava supports a variety of smartwatches and fitness devices such as the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices.
Free, or $5 per month for the Beacon extras: https://www.strava.com/
Available for iOS and Android Phones
3) Runkeeper Go
This is another app that you’ll need to upgrade to get the premium safety Runkeeper Go option. The upgraded option will give you live tracking, premium training plans, weather insights, and more. But the main safety option allows you to select friends and family who will be able to see your races or runs in real time from their phone or desktop.
Runkeeper basic allows you to use your phone's GPS to track your running, cycling, hiking and other distance activities. The app records your pace, distance, total exercise time, calories burned and other useful metrics, while delivering a variety of training plans, complete with reminders and gamified challenges. Users can go freeform or download and follow popular running routes. You can measure your progress and workout history, as well as sync with numerous other apps and services and receive detailed reports of your tracked activity.
Runkeeper supports a variety of smartwatches and fitness devices such as the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices.
Free, or $10 per month or $40 per year for the premium Go options: https://runkeeper.com
Available for iOS and Android Phones
Kitestring is an online service, and technically not an APP. The service allows you to activate a safety plan for the times when you’re headed into a potentially unsafe situation like a late night run or a just out late or alone.
Visit the Kitestring site to enter your emergency contacts. Then, when you’re ready to go out or on your nighttime run, let Kitestring know, and ask the service to check in with you via text in 15 minutes, 45 minutes, 2 hours, 5 hours or even 12 hours. If you don’t respond to their text message within a specific window of time (for example in five minutes), Kitestring will automatically notify your emergency contacts.
Free, or $3 per month for unlimited trips: https://www.kitestring.io/
Available on any device.
RunGo, a run tracker and navigation aid, allows users to discover new running, jogging or walking routes, complete with voice navigation to help guide them through unfamiliar locales. So if you are new to a neighborhood or you are just starting out as a runner, this can help you past the tough task to find a good and safe jogging route in an unfamiliar or new area.
You can download routes for offline use, start routes halfway or create their own within the app. Coolest of all, premium subscribers can access "guided tours" — verified routes created by local runners through safe and scenic areas, with the app announcing points of interest and other information.
Free, or $1.99 per month for the subscription extras: https://www.rungoapp.com/
Available for iOS and Android Phones
+1) Extra Stay-Safe-At-Home App: Zwift
While the Zwift APP doesn’t hold a specific safety feature, staying at home in itself can! So… If you find yourself doing a lot of exercising at home these days, Zwift can help you change up your surroundings while you shelter in place. And the mobile app even adds a little gamification to your runs as part of the bargain.
With Zwift, you can take your runs through virtual courses, while staying on your treadmill. Along with the different courses, you can run alongside other people, using their times for encouragement or competition.
You'll need a compatible treadmill and footpod, supported watch, smart shoes or treadmill sensor to make Zwift work. But the run aspect of Zwift is free to use. (Zwift also works with cycling, but after a 7-day trial, rides require a $15 monthly membership.) If you've got the right equipment, Zwift offers a unique way to get more out of your at-home runs.
Free for Runners: https://www.zwift.com/
Available for iOS and Android Phones
Additional Safety Phone APP Resources:
Other safety APPs to check out from our 2018 list of 5 Phone Apps that Keep Runners Safe:
- Road iD - https://www.roadid.com/
- StaySafe - https://staysafeapp.com/
- RunRaegis – this one has been removed from the APP store
- bSafe - https://getbsafe.com/
- Glympse - https://glympse.com/
As we continue to navigate the still-uncertain waters of the coronavirus pandemic, the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also continue to shift. Some areas of the country remain under strict stay-at-home orders, while others are trying to open back up and loosen their physical distancing rules as well. With everything continually changing, you might be wondering: Should I even go outside and, if so, how can I do it safely?
We get it: The idea of getting outside just to get a little fresh air is very appealing, particularly if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, and/or stress brought on by the current times. It goes without saying that exercise and spending some time outdoors is truly beneficial for our mental health and overall well-being. But how can you do that safely with as little risk as possible -- for both you and other people? Let’s take a look at whether or not you should be going on walks as well as what precautions you should consider each time you set foot outdoors.
Take a Walk for your Health
Want to live longer? Lace up those sneakers and...start walking! Experts agree that walking just 30 minutes a day, five days per week can add as many as three years or more to your life! If strenuous exercise isn’t your thing, the simple activity of taking a walk has so many powerful health benefits all by itself. Done correctly, it can be the key to easing depression, boosting your memory, keeping your mind sharp, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and losing weight as well as reducing your risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and more! In fact, in the words of CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, walking is now being touted as “the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.” How easy… how perfect!
Not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of taking a walk. Walking for just 25 minutes a day can decrease your risk of heart disease by as much as 35%, and a quick, post-meal walk can lower blood glucose levels and reduce your risk of diabetes. It can also prevent osteoarthritis by helping to lubricate the joints. Even a shorter walk has its perks! Experts report that for every minute of brisk walking, women can cut their risk of obesity by 5%. According to some estimates, this no-equipment-required, do-anywhere activity could save Americans more than $100 billion per year when it comes to healthcare costs.
Taking a stroll can even boost your mood and clear the mind. Several studies have found evidence that walking is just as effective as medications when it comes to lowering depression. Looking to relieve everyday stresses? As the open road stretches out in front of you and your mood-elevating endorphin levels rise, you’re more likely to feel that tension melt away. In fact, mindful walking provides you with the same stress-relieving benefits of meditation without having to sit still.
Not only does walking benefit your individual health, but it can also help to make your community stronger. Social scientists maintain that as more people get outside and take regular walks, neighborhood crime rates fall and the local economy ultimately improves. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with neighbors and meet new people -- while keeping a safe distance and wearing a mask during the current pandemic, of course. Walking can also benefit the littles, as well! Take the kids for a walk after supper to improve academic performance, reduce behavior problems, and promote better communication.
How to Go on a Walk Safely
While health experts are saying it’s safer to go outdoors (depending on what time you go and the area in which you live), we are adding an extra layer of what safety means when taking a walk outside. Here are some best-practices for staying safe as you hit the pavement.
- Wear a facial covering or mask -- or at least have it ready to put on if you happen to come across others on your stroll. Remember that a mask doesn’t protect you from getting the virus, but it does help you from spreading particles that might carry the infection.
- Try to find times (like early mornings and evenings) and areas where it’s less crowded but still safe. If necessary, scout out alternative routes such as on streets and sidewalks in residential areas where you might encounter fewer people.
- Make your walk shorter that day if you find that your usual spot is more crowded than you were expecting.
- While keeping a 6-foot distance is recommended, staying 10 feet apart is better -- and this applies even when you’re jogging in your neighborhood, walking your dog, or going for a hike.
- Avoid meeting up with strangers and/or friends for just a little while longer unless you plan to stay 6 feet apart at all times. A distance of 6 to 10 feet is farther than you might think, so if you’ll struggle to hold a conversation at that distance, go solo for now instead.
- Know the area and stay on designated paths. Venturing into unfamiliar territory is a dangerous idea -- coronavirus or not.
- Carry a fully charged phone with you and safely keep it close to your body and away from harmful EMF with a SportPort sports bra or top with a phone pocket.
- Consider other safety items to carry with you that running enthusiasts find useful. They can work great when going for a walk, too!
- Try to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth while you’re outside until after you’ve washed up properly with antiviral soap.
- Sanitize door handles and anything else you touched when you reenter your home, including your phone if you took it out on your walk with you.
- Immuno-compromised people or high-risk elderly individuals might want to consider staying home, just to be on the safe side, especially if they live in a hard-hit area. There are plenty of exercises and activities that older adults can do from the comfort of their living rooms instead.
Remember that even if you’re not experiencing symptoms of the virus, you could still be a carrier. Even if you tested negative for COVID-19 yesterday, today is a new day. Every moment you spend around others who are not in your immediate household is a moment with risk. Be careful, cautious, smart, safe, and... healthy!
References & Additional Resources:
What can be said about the foam roller? It is an art of simplicity, a display of simple ergonomics, a piece of foam molded into a tubular shape that aids in muscle massage and myofascial connective tissue release.
Truth be told, the foam roller can be a tortuous piece of sports equipment that we try to avoid! Yes, pure muscle torture! Yet, a while back these harmless looking props popped up everywhere, (i.e. specialty stores, athletic shops, yoga classes and in the stretch area at most gyms). Everyone grimaced their way through a quick roll out at the end of their workout. Travelers even packed them in their carry-on luggage for destination events; they were that important at one time! Fast forward until present day, the rollers are still hanging around, but often left neglected from recovery routines, collecting dust on their circular surface.
At SportPort we spend a lot of time at exercising and work with a lot of trainers and fitness instructors. We have seen an up/down trend in using foam rollers as part of workouts or recovery routines and so we chatted with some of our favorite people to see why interest seems to have taken a down-turn. The benefits of foam rollers can be awesome, whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a gym wanderer, or anywhere in between, so shouldn’t the foam roller still be getting a little respect?
WHY YOUR FOAM ROLLER FEELS MISFIT
- IT’S NOT FUN. “It’s painful and it hurts” was a common joking complaint that we heard, but also an indicator of why people didn’t return to using a foam roller the next time. Let’s face it, we all avoid uncomfortable feelings as much as possible. When we push ourselves in cardio exercise, it can be hard, but we get the feel-good endorphin response as a reward. At the end of foam rolling, participants tended to feel more tired, like at the end of a massage, and not more energized to take on the day ahead.
• TAKES TOO LONG. Hectic, busy schedules can make things hard enough to even have a regular exercise routine. Many want to get to it and get through it, preferring routines that will have you break out in a sweat or burn a ton of calories instead of one that barely raises their heart rate. Incorporating foam rollers into a regular routine may feel like it adds too much extra time to an already busy schedule of fitting in exercise.
• NOT A NECESSITY. Many just aren’t keen on pre-exercise warm-ups or stretching before workouts. While they “know” they should, so many don’t actually do it, possibly because, like stretching for some people, it doesn’t seem like a necessary part of their fitness routine when they’re uninjured.
WHY FOAM ROLLERS ARE GOOD FOR FITNESS
- TO RELIEVE TENSION. A foam rolling routine can help muscles for myofascial connective tissue release, which is a practice used to relax contracted muscles. When muscles and the connective tissue that surround your muscles is tightened due to overuse or activity, your range of motion may become restricted, while also leaving your muscles, joints and bones less supported. Foam rollers can be used to break up tight areas, which are also frequently called trigger points. Although, loosening these tight muscle areas can be uncomfortable or even painful, regular self-massage may allow you to break up the trigger point, reducing your pain and allowing increased muscle mobility with the release of the myofascial tension. Less tightness means better performance!
• FASTER MUSCLE RECOVERY. When you exercise for a prolonged period of time or push your body extra hard, small tears can occur in your muscle fibers, along with muscle inflammation, which contributes to feelings of soreness, tightness or fatigue. By rolling out the muscle groups you’ve used, fibers that are starting to knot up can be worked out. If these areas are not properly self-massaged or allowed enough time to heal on their own, they may lead to injury or movement restriction. Pushing through the pain may not always be the best advice! But, using foam rollers to help to push to better and faster muscle recovery can be!
• IMPROVED BLOOD FLOW. Foam rolling may also improve blood flow to muscles, helping to provide muscle cells with the appropriate nutrient supply to progress faster. As always, it is important to drink your water to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated to ensure this nutrient repletion can take place. Massage therapists who use foam roller therapies often advise their clients to drink lots of room temperature water after a treatment in the belief that this will help the body flush out toxins released by the muscles during massage. So, drink up!
Convinced enough to show your abandoned exercise roller a little love? Why not be the woman who revives the foam roller trend in your routine! Our hope is that athletes everywhere will realize the continued and awesome recovery benefit that such a simple fitness tool can provide.
Physical distancing can reduce the chance of a person getting the coronavirus, but staying home can flatten the curve and slow the spread of the infection even more. Fortunately, being at-home does not mean you have to give up your fitness routine -- and it may actually be the perfect time to start one! Whether you are an older adult and you feel yourself beginning to resemble a couch-potato or you have aging parents or grandparents at home and you’re worried they aren’t getting the activities or exercises they need to stay healthy, check out this list of the top 10 ways to stay active at home. You can also find some of these and many other at-home routines for all ages in our calendar of free online accessible exercise routines and ideas (meditations and dance classes too).
Exercise is Important, Especially for Older Adults
According to past science, older people are likely to suffer the most health impacts from being confined at home. In fact, studies show that when adults (of any age) reduce their physical activity due to injury or illness, they quickly lose endurance and strength and begin to experience muscle loss and early signs of insulin resistance. While these effects usually reverse in younger people once they start exercising normally again, in older adults, the negative health effects can linger for much longer.
That’s why experts are worrying about how the quarantine is affecting older adults during the stay-at-home orders, mainly because the lockdown could potentially cause health declines similar to those that happen when aging adults are bedridden or hospitalized. If you or someone you love is an older adult or has functional limitations such as joint replacements or arthritis, engaging in regular physical exercise is critical for staying healthy and delaying the onset of frailty.
10 Activities to Try While Staying at Home
The following activities and exercises are perfect for older people who are stuck at home and looking for ways to maintain their overall health and stave off the negative effects of aging. However, all of us, regardless of age, should try to move however and whenever we can, using whatever equipment we already have in our homes.
Formally known as “aerobic conditioning” walking can help to keep the body flexible while boosting your heart rate. Try strolling from room to room during a commercial break. Walk up and down the hallway or around the room while talking on the phone. If you have stairs, climb a flight or two to strengthen your legs. Aim to take a walk at least three times per day.
- Wall Squats
A wall squat requires no equipment and little expertise, but it can significantly improve leg strength. Keeping your legs shoulder-distance apart, stand a foot away from a wall. Press your back against it and gradually lower your body until your legs are parallel to the floor and form a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for as long as you can, whether that means five seconds or 30 seconds, and slide back up carefully.
- Arm Curls
Looking to boost your upper-body strength? Check the pantry! Water bottles or cans of soup are great for arm curls. Hold an object in one hand, resting your arm by your side. Keep your palms facing forward, and slowly bend your elbows to curl the bottle or can upward. Lower your arm and repeat on the other side.
- Shoulder Raises
Similarly, to strengthen your arm and shoulders, fill an empty gallon jug halfway with water, hold it in front of you with both hands, keep your arms straight, and lift it out in front of you to about face height. If you are able, continue to raise your arms until they are straight above your head. Lower slowly and repeat. This exercise is great for those with weak legs and ankles as you can easily do it while sitting down and watching television.
Whenever you are in the kitchen, try countertop push-ups. Stand back a few feet from the counter, lean toward it, flex from your ankles, and keep your back straight. Hold onto the counter and bend and straighten your elbows. Complete as many as you can or try to coincide your push-ups with the time needed to warm your coffee or soup in the microwave. Doing push-ups off of a wall is also a great modification if you find that countertop push-ups are too strenuous.
Being stuck at home doesn’t necessarily mean you are confined within your walls. If you have the space and a green thumb, consider creating a garden in your backyard. Even ordering seeds online and arranging an indoor herb garden, as easy and inactive as that might seem, is still a great way to get older adults up out of their chairs and moving around.
- Online Exercise Classes
If you prefer to add a little variety to your day and you enjoy group activities, why not check out all free instructional videos and our calendar of online exercise classes? The internet is overflowing with live or do-anytime events, along with options for the first-timer or elderly. Try a Zumba or dance class if you feel coordinated and vigorous or Tai Chi for something that’s a little gentler on the body.
Take a sock, a t-shirt, or a hand towel, anything fabric, and grasp it firmly in both hands. Place your hands, thumbs together, under your chin with your elbows raised out to either side and your forearms parallel to the floor. Pull with both hands to stretch the towel and have a “tug-of-war” with yourself. Allow your right side to win, then relax back to the center, and allow your left side to win.
- Dance, Dance, Dance
If taking a stroll doesn’t make your once-active soul soar, why not dance instead? Put on some music for 15 to 30 minutes per day, and let it all out! Alternate between fast, blood-pumping tunes and slower songs that can provide a much-needed break. Remind yourself that there’s no need to feel self-conscious about your moves (or lack thereof!) since you’re in the comfort of your own home.
If you have ever watched Miranda Esmonde-White’s specials on TV such as the Classical Stretch show, the Aging Backwards docuseries, or the Forever Painless workouts -- that is Essentrics! In addition to being on TV, check out YouTube, where you can find several free programs designed specifically for older adults that embrace the aging process and include workouts for every fitness level. We’ve included some in our calendar of online exercise classes.
Regardless of whether you are an older adult looking to stay active or you are concerned about the health and mobility of a loved one during these unprecedented times, there are plenty of at-home activities and exercises designed to keep us active while quarantined. We included options above designed for everyone from the sedentary to the active, so choose based on your current physical abilities. However, keep in mind that, above all, the best exercise is the one you do.
With Covid-19 stay-at-home orders beginning to lift and the pandemic seeming to calm down (it’s going to end sooner or later, right?), fitness centers and gyms will start to open again. However, this will almost certainly bring about many questions and concerns from fitness fiends such as: Is it safe to go back to the gym? How vigorously do I need to clean the equipment after use? Am I still required to stay at least six feet away from others?
Of course, you can always choose to exercise with household objects or continue your newly scheduled at-home workout routine to stay safe, but those who are eager to engage in community-based fitness are also asking a few other important questions: Should I exercise while wearing a face mask? Do face masks impair my breathing or lower the amount of oxygen my body gets? Will wearing a face mask slow me down?
I think we can all agree that the idea of exercising with a face mask on sounds utterly miserable. However, even if you are forced to wear one, there are ways to ensure you get enough oxygen and stay safe in the process -- and it all comes down to developing better breathing techniques and calmer breathing habits. Keep reading to learn more about how breathing exercises can help you develop stronger lungs and improve your overall health.
16 Frequently Asked Questions About the Benefits of Breathing and Breathing Exercises
- Are breathing exercises good for your health?
When you’re stressed, your body’s breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate all increase. When the stress passes, these reactions typically return to normal. However, if the stress continues, your body goes into overdrive, interfering with your ability to enjoy life and leaving you vulnerable to health problems. Symptoms connected to long-term stress include a lowered immune system, blood pressure issues, chronic pain, intestinal and stomach problems, high cholesterol levels, sleep problems, depression, and anxiety. By understanding proper breathing and using deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, you can overcome these stress reactions to improve your mood, concentration, digestion, and sleep.
- What is the healthiest way to breathe?
Believe it or not, there actually is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. While breathing through your mouth is sometimes necessary (sinus congestion, increased physical activity), breathing in through your nose filters, humidifies, and warms air in a way that the mouth can’t. Proper breathing begins in the nose and moves into the belly as the diaphragm contracts, the stomach expands, and the lungs fill with air. Ultimately, if you’re breathing effectively, your breath will be controlled, steady, smooth, and quiet -- even if you must wear a face mask.
- What is deep breathing and what is it good for?
Deep breathing is the process of taking controlled, focused breaths that draw extra oxygen into the body -- more oxygen that you would consume with a “normal” breath. Deep breathing is one of the easiest, most convenient, and most natural tools to decrease stress, relieve pain, improve immunity, stimulate the lymphatic system, increase energy, improve digestion, and lower blood pressure. By engaging in deep breathing exercises, you can also essentially develop stronger lungs that may lower the negative effects of the Coronavirus should you happen to become exposed to it.
- What are the advantages of deep breathing?
Engaging in deep-breathing exercises sends a message to your brain that has a calming effect. Deep breathing can reduce muscle tension, lower your blood pressure, decrease your heart rate, and reduce general stress -- all of which are crucial for your health and overall well-being. Other advantages of deep breathing include feeling more in touch with your emotions, sleeping better at night, feeling more energetic, focused, and peaceful, and having less neck, head, back, and shoulder tension. What’s more, breathing requires no equipment or additional supplies since it’s something you do naturally every day!
- What are some deep breathing techniques?
Here are some common breathing techniques that offer a variety of deep breathing exercises that can help overall body health:
- Mindful Breathing
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Mantra Breathing
- Square Breathing
- Nostril Breathing
- Pranayama Breathing
- 4,7,8 Method
- Belly Breath
- The Wim Hof Method.
- Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training
- ... to name a few!
- What is Mindful Breathing and what is it good for?
Mindful breathing is a powerful yet basic mindfulness meditation practice. The idea is simply to focus all of your attention on your breathing -- to its natural flow and rhythm as well as the way it feels on each exhale and inhale. Mindful breathing is particularly helpful because it acts as an anchor -- something you can focus on at any time if you start to feel anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed with negative emotions. It also allows you to sharpen your concentration skills and establish inner calm by grounding yourself in the present moment.
- What is Diaphragmatic Breathing and what is it good for?
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped, large muscle nestled at the bottom of your lungs. Your abdomen muscles are responsible for moving your diaphragm to help you more efficiently empty your lungs when exhaling. Therefore, diaphragmatic breathing trains you to use your diaphragm properly while you breathe. This technique is essential for decreasing oxygen demand, strengthening your diaphragm, using less energy and effort to breathe, and slowing your breathing rate to lower the amount of work your body must do to breathe.
- What is Mantra Breathing and what is it good for?
A mantra is a word or phrase that you can repeat over and over to help yourself focus. Therefore, mantra breathing is a technique that involves repeating a mantra so that you can focus on your breath. The phrase or phrases should coincide with each exhale and inhale. Since you are staying attentive to the mantra and remaining in the present, your mind is less likely to wander, and you are able to better relax and meditate.
- What is Square Breathing and what is it good for?
Also referred to as four-part breathing, 4x4 breathing, or box breathing, square breathing creates focus through visualization. Square breathing is a type of breath-work that can both connect you more deeply with your body and shift your energy. Start by inhaling for four seconds as you visualize one side of a square. Hold for four seconds as you picture the second side of the square. Exhale for four seconds and visualize the third side of the square. Hold for four seconds as you picture the final side of the square.
- What is Nostril Breathing and what is it good for?
Alternate nostril breathing is a breath control technique that is typically done as part of a meditation or yoga practice. As such, it can be quite helpful for reducing anxiety and agitation. Begin by closing off your left nostril as you slowly inhale through the right. The breath through the right nostril is known to increase physical energy to revitalize the body. Then switch, closing off your right nostril while slowly breathing through the left. Breathing through the left can direct energy and oxygen flow into your brain’s right hemisphere, which effectively turns on the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and enables relaxation.
- What is Pranayama Breathing and what is it good for?
Pranayama breathing, or yoga breathing, is the foundation of yoga practice. According to experts, this method can clean 72,000 channels in your body since it clears the respiratory system and cleanses the blood. By using Pranayama, you are essentially sending clean oxygen to your brain and heart. Begin by inhaling through your nose, keeping your mouth closed, until you reach your lung capacity. Hold your breath, keeping some of it back in your throat like you’re going to whisper, and slowly exhale through your nose.
- What is the 4-7-8 Method and what is it good for?
Also referred to as “relaxing breath,” the 4-7-8 method aims to help people get to sleep as well as reduce anxiety. Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 method is one of the simplest, most straightforward breathing techniques you can do. Start by inhaling through your nose as you count to four. Next, hold your breath as you count to seven. Finally, exhale through your mouth by making a whooshing sound as you count to eight. Repeat as necessary.
- What is Belly Breathing and what is it good for?
Sometimes referred to as diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing, belly breathing is a great technique if you’re only beginning to learn about training your breathing muscles. It’s easy to practice since you can actually feel and see your body inhaling and exhaling, simply by paying attention to how your belly moves. Lie down on the floor or on a bed, and place one hand on your stomach. Notice how your belly rises as you inhale and lowers as you exhale.
- What is the Wim Hof Method and what is it good for?
A vibrant and colorful technique, the Wim Hof Method is based on three pillars: commitment, cold therapy, and breathing. Specifically, the breathing component focuses on techniques that strengthen the immune system, rebalance the nervous system, reduce stress levels, detox the body, and improve your energy level. There are four parts to this technique. First, get comfortable in a meditation posture. Next, take 30 to 40 deep breaths -- inhale through the mouth or nose and exhale unforced through the mouth -- while clearing your mind and remaining conscious of your breath. After the last exhalation, take one more deep breath, exhale, and stop breathing. Hold for as long as possible. Finally, take one big recovery breath to fully fill your lungs, holding for around 15 seconds. You’ve now completed the first cycle. Repeat three to four times as needed.
- What is inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) and what is it good for?
Inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) is typically geared toward those who suffer from emphysema, COPD, bronchitis, and asthma -- individuals who experience difficulty breathing daily due to swelling in their lungs and narrow airways. IMST can be helpful for enhancing physical performance and for improving the function of the respiratory muscles through specific breathing exercises. IMST is effective for improving cardiovascular or aerobic exercises such as cycling or running where endurance is particularly important. We generally use between 10% to 15% of our total lung capacity. With IMST, you can exercise the lungs for increased capacity.
- Does wearing a mask impede my breathing?
Compared to normal breathing, wearing a face mask can decrease the flow of air into your lungs, meaning less oxygen is able to enter your bloodstream. Depending on the type of face mask you wear and the level of filtration it offers, it can affect the oxygen and CO2 levels. If you are an athlete or exercising with a mask on, your body may get less oxygen to convert glucose into energy, meaning that athletes can expect to fatigue faster when exercising with a face mask. It’s better to leave the N95 masks to the medical community and consider a cloth or cotton mask as an athlete, of course, while considering the best practice of maintaining a safe distance from others if you can and for a while longer.
One simple deep breathing exercise:
While breathing is natural, deep breathing is not. It actually takes time to practice -- just like learning any new skill! Many deep breathing exercises take only a few minutes, although you can do them for as long as you want. To start, get comfortable in a chair or lie on your back in bed or on the floor. Breathe in through your nose and count to four, filling your belly with air as you inhale. Hold your breath and count to seven. Gently and with control, push the air out through your mouth and count to eight. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in, notice your belly rising. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. Take three more deep, fully breaths.
One simple mindful breathing exercise:
The purpose of mindful breathing is to notice, accept, and be aware of your breath. Begin by sitting quietly in a chair or lying in your bed. Notice and relax your body, paying close attention to the touch of the bed or chair and the sensations you feel. Next, bring all of your focus to the physical act of breathing. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your nostrils or throat, or it might be in your chest or abdomen. See if you can feel the sensations of breathing, one breath at a time. Don’t try to do anything else -- just be aware of these physical sensations. It’s okay if your mind begins to wander. Simply acknowledge these thoughts, allow them to be, and gently refocus your awareness back to your breath. Continue for five to seven minutes, building up gradually each day.
At the end of the day, you can strengthen your breathing muscles by lowering the amount of oxygen they need, leaving more oxygen for other muscles! By understanding the benefits of proper breathing and practicing the breathing exercises above, you can train your body to perform at its best -- with or without a face mask!