Another year, another April. Can you believe we have been battling COVID-19 for over a year now? For many of us, we hibernated in our homes when the shutdown began and only came out of the house when it was absolutely necessary. Many gyms had closed, and the only exercise we would get were the steps we took from our bed, to the sofa and to the bathroom! ? On top of that, we endured more stress as feelings of isolation and loneliness arose. Thankfully, exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels even if we are only active for a few short minutes!

 

Over this past year, stress has been at an all-time high, especially since a lot of our routines have shifted to a virtual setting. College classes are offered remotely, teachers are working from home and concerts and other entertainment events have shifted to online viewing. It can definitely be stressful being cooped up indoors all day long and combining that with very little activity can be detrimental to our health. Both exercise and physical activity have been shown to relieve stress, lower the risk of depression and improve cognitive retention.

While most people understand the benefits of exercise and how it can elevate their mood, only a handful of people make a point to be physically active every day. It may be tempting to adopt the mentality that exercise is all-or-nothing, so if you don’t have time to workout for at least an hour then you’ll opt to do nothing at all. But don’t fall into this trap! Even a short ten minutes of activity is enough clear your mind and help you focus while releasing those feel-good endorphins. Also, exercise does not always have to be an intense cardio session that will leave you on your knees, dripping in sweat! A leisure stroll around the neighborhood or a brisk walk along a walking trail are just as effective and will produce similar benefits.

While gyms and fitness centers offer a wide variety of equipment and amenities, it is perfectly okay to exercise wherever you feel comfortable. Here is a quick 10-minute at-home workout that can be completed in just about any setting. You can set your timer for 10 minutes and do as many rounds of this circuit as you can without stopping.IMG 1745 sm

  1. 12 Squats

Squats increase your flexibility and also help to strengthen your core which is important for those who do a lot of sitting during the day. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and squat down while your heels remain flat on the ground.

  1. 12 Forward Lunges (6 on each side)

When performing a lunge, you are working the large muscle groups in the lower body which can build lean muscle while reducing fat. They also get the blood pumping in those legs especially if one has been sitting in the same position for a while.

  1. 10 Push-Ups

Let’s not neglect that upper body! Push-ups work out those triceps and shoulders and will strengthen the chest. If being on all fours is a little difficult, you can go down to your knees to relieve some of the tension and pressure.

  1. 10 Hip- thrusts

When we sit at a desk for hours on end, we are bound to build up tension in our lower back. Hip thrusts can help alleviate this pain and will strengthen those glute muscles. Laying on your back, slowly lift your bottom off the floor and squeeze the glutes as the hips rise.

  1. 30 seconds of jumping jacks

A little cardio won’t hurt anybody! Jumping jacks are great because they utilize all muscle groups and get the entire body involved in the exercise. This will cause your heart rate to rise a little and will give your body a burst of energy that is needed after a long, stressful day.

Remember, you don’t have to workout for hours and hours to reap the benefits of exercise. Something is always better than nothing, so choose to do something even if it is just for a few minutes!

More about the author - Dominique Carnes:

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Hey ya’ll! Thank you for taking some time out to read my blog post. I am a senior here at UAB, and I will graduate this upcoming May with my degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. I am currently an intern for the UAB Recreation Center and teach fitness classes as an F45 instructor on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Fitness and nutrition will always be my top passions, so I am excited to pass on my knowledge to anyone who is willing to listen. One of my favorite quotes is, “Food is the most abused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most under-utilized antidepressant.” A lot of people use food as comfort when they experience intense emotions, however, they don’t realize that exercise may help fill that void while providing excellent benefits. I encourage everyone to find an activity that they like whether it’s walking, running or even lifting weights, as exercise is truly the best medicine for the heart!