As social distancing guidelines remain in place, many of us are doing our best to stay healthy and in shape at home. With that in mind, we spoke to fitness expert Denise Austin to pick her brain about how she’s staying healthy and optimistic during the coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine.
Austin isn’t just a fitness inspiration — she’s also one of the most bubbly, upbeat women you could ever have the pleasure of having a conversation with. And according to her, a healthy lifestyle is essential to a calm and peaceful mind. But it’s not all about exercise (though it’s obviously a major factor!). Read on for her top tips for a healthier body and mind.
Create a routine.
Austin says that creating a daily routine is essential for developing new healthy habits, and this especially applies now that we’re stuck in the house. “Set a schedule for yourself so it becomes a routine,” she says. “Once you follow a specific routine for enough time, it becomes a habit. Once it’s a part of your lifestyle, as a part of your day just like brushing your teeth, it becomes a lot for you to get things done.”
Split up your workouts.
Creating a routine also applies to working out, but Austin says you don’t even have to get it all done in one sitting. “If you can set aside 20 minutes or even 10 minute blocks twice or three times per day for working out, you can do it,” she explains. “I like to get mine done in the morning, and I personally work out for 30 minutes every day. I don’t usually do more than that.” So yes, that means you can get fit with as little as 30 minutes of exercise per day, and if you broke that into three short workouts, how much easier could it get?
If you’re working from home, taking breaks to take a walk or get in a short burst of intense exercise could also give you a much-needed energy boost! If you need workout motivation, be sure to follow Austin on Instagram and Facebook!
Get enough rest.
Even though it feels like we’re lounging around more than usual, Austin emphasizes that now is an extremely important time to make sure we’re sleeping well and for long enough. “I want to keep my immune system at its best,” she says. And she’s right: Research shows that poor sleep can lead to lowered immunity. “I make sure to sleep well and get in a full eight hours every night.”
Stock up on frozen produce.
Nutrition is an undeniable factor in our health, and Austin says that even though shopping is limited right now, you and your family can make due. “We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables that are frozen now since we’re not going to the store as often. Eating a healthy diet is important for keeping your weight down and your body in good health.” When you make your grocery store trips, try to stock up on frozen produce as much as possible!
Without the movement of our typical daily lives, a lot of us are experiencing increased pain and tension, especially if we’re working from home. Austin says it’s important to stretch the muscles and keep the blood flowing. “Circulation is what helps heal the body,” she says. “Not only is stretching good for your muscles, it’s also good for your mind. Breathe deeply while you stretch, and that will help to calm you down.”
She also says to take your time with stretching, and not to compete with yourself. “It’s easy enough on the body to do when done right. Stretching is a great way to start introducing more movement into your life.” We couldn’t agree more. For some beginner stretchers to try, check out these simple yoga poses that relieve neck and shoulder pain.
Find ways to connect.
Social connections are also a major player in our mental health, and while we’re social distancing, it’s important to take advantage of the connections we do have. For Austin, this means cherishing the time she now has with her daughter. “I’ve been doing a lot of mother-daughter workouts with my daughter, Katie,” she says. “It’s been really fun, we have mothers and daughters doing it with us and it’s been really beautiful to see. Like me, a lot of moms don’t get the time at home with their kids in their 20s that they have now. It’s fun to have something to do with them.” Check out how cute they are!
Practice good posture.
Another aspect of good health that is sometimes neglected is our posture, but Austin says this shouldn’t be overlooked. “Posture is so important to your health. Pulling the abs in helps to exercise and reeducate the muscles in the abdomen to move up and in instead of down and out.” In other words, if you’re trying to avoid or reduce a belly pooch, sit up straight and pull that belly in!
Having good posture benefits much more than just your appearance. “It even helps you breathe better!” Austin points out. Sitting up straight helps you expand your lungs when you breathe and increases your body’s oxygen uptake. Think of it this way. Oxygen = energy.” So if you’ve been feeling fatigued or dreary, try sitting up taller and taking some deep breaths.
Take advantage of the times.
Austin emphasizes that while we’re in a period of darkness, we can harness the opportunities before us to create healthy and lasting changes in our lives. “All the time you used to use for commuting or doing other things can be used to take care of your body now,” she says. “It’s a life changing time to develop new habit. Taking care of yourself is so important for good health in the long term, it’s the most important thing. This has taught us that. So make the best of the time you have now.”
We will most certainly be taking her advice.