Staying In Shape Indoors

During the winter, daylight is shorter and typically, energy is lower. Seasonal depression can strike in the winter when our immune systems are weakened and we are can seek comfort in the wrong sort of foods, making us feel sluggish. We all know that exercise is beneficial for our mental health, but what if it’s not possible to get out and about? There are all sorts of reasons that you may be spending a lot of time indoors  – you might be recovering from an illness, the weather may be dreadful or perhaps you have caring responsibilities. It doesn’t matter why you’re somewhat housebound, the good news is that it’s perfectly possible to stay in good shape wherever you are.

Why bother?

Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals in our brains – such as dopamine and serotonin. Our brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other – affecting our moods and the way we think.  Exercise can stimulate other chemicals in the brain, which help new brain cells to grow and develop; interestingly, moderate exercise seems to be more effective than vigorous exercise in this regard.  Exercise also appears to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress. So, all in all, it’s pretty clear that keeping active is essential if we want to protect our mental health.

Make indoors work for you

People often extol the benefits of exercising outside, but an indoor workout can be just as effective and might suit your lifestyle better.  Who needs a running track when it’s been scientifically proven that just a few minutes of jumping rope burns more fat and calories than running for 30 minutes?  It’s simply a question of designing an indoor exercise program and committing to a regular time to actually do it.

There are all sorts of fitness aids you could consider – such as an exercise bike, a Swiss Ball or a set of dumbells – but you might be surprised how much can be achieved indoors just by using your own body weight and a mat. One thing you could consider buying, even if you’re short of both cash and space, is a set of resistance bands – great for working on both strength and flexibility.

Works for all ages and abilities

Age is no barrier either; staying indoors means one can take things at one’s own pace. Starting some gentle training on a stationary bike at home might be a gateway into outdoor cycling, for instance.

Sometimes a bit of solitude and relaxation are exactly what our bodies need so don’t feel the need to exhaust yourself. Stress reduction techniques will also help in the long run with weight control and mental health.

It’s important to stretch each day to remain supple; the amount of time we spend will depend on how naturally flexible we are, but most people will find they need to do more of it as we age.

Lots of options

There are loads of ways to stay on the move indoors – and they’re all a good deal cheaper than a gym membership. From following a dance DVDs or an exercise Youtube channel to building a workout around a flight of stairs or assuming the downward dog on your yoga mat – you’re bound to find something that suits you. Try alternating plyometric exercises (things like jump squats or skipping rope) with strength training exercises like press-ups, sit-ups and side leg lifts. You might want to download a fitness app to keep you motivated and on track. Keep it fresh by altering your exercise routine regularly so you don’t get bored; a combination of cardio and strength training is what you’re after.

Lastly – make it fun!

Choose an activity that you enjoy and try to do it regularly; some good music often works as a motivator. Once you begin to see some progress – both in terms of your fitness level and your mood – you’ll feel encouraged to keep going. It’s important to remember that staying active isn’t about competition – it’s something that should enhance our quality of life, nourish our well-being and bolster our mental health.

Photo by Form on Unsplash