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Five quick fitness tips to burn calories

Here is a look at ways to sneak in a good workout while you go through your busy workday

There are many easy workouts that you can do while working from home. (Photo: iStock)
There are many easy workouts that you can do while working from home. (Photo: iStock)

The covid-19 pandemic has forced many of us to remain indoors and work from the confines of our homes. This has meant that those regular runs in the park and visits to the gym to burn calories don’t happen as frequently as they did. Besides, immense workloads and no fixed work-from-home schedules mean a lot of us are now moving around less—often staying glued to the chair for hours on end.

But if you plan smartly, working from home can be merged seamlessly with remaining fit and mobile. Here is a look at five ways in which you can sneak in a good workout.

Steps and stairs

Don’t have an indoor cycle or enough space to run? There are two fun ways around this problem. First, go for the stairs. Climbing up and down stairs—or mixing them with quick jogs— is an excellent way to boost your heart rate. The other option is timed walks. A good heart-rate monitor or fitness tracker comes in handy here. Set a daily target of the number of steps you want to achieve and start walking. A one- to two-and-a-half-hour walk indoors is better than no physical activity at all.

Squats all the way

If you are on a long Zoom meeting call where all you have to do is listen, get off your chair, put the audio output on speakers and start with some squats (but make sure the video feed is turned off). Squats are one of the best forms of exercise for your lower body and overall stability. You can even pair these with your favourite wall in the house to do a wall sit. Keep your back straight against the wall, core tight. Your hips and knees should be at a 90-degree angle, and feet flat and apart, around the same width as your shoulders. Hold this position for 20-60 seconds before sliding up the wall to your normal standing position.

Make use of that chair

Work from home means that your study chair is your new best friend. This definitely isn’t great news for your lower back muscles, neck and shoulders. But chairs can be useful to do some really quick and effective exercises. First up, try some tricep dips: Your hands should be on the edge of the chair and around shoulder-width apart. Move forward so that your bottom half is off the chair, and push up from your elbows till your arms are straight. Now, as you keep your back close to the chair, bend the elbows slowly and go as low as possible, before returning to the starting position. You can also try chair planks by placing your forearms on the chair and holding the plank position for anywhere between 30-45 seconds.

No equipment? No problem

You will not look at the huge water bottles and long broom sticks in your home the same away again. Two filled water bottles can actually be a good substitute for dumbbells. How do you use them? Try a variation of your squats with them. Hold the water bottles above your head, with your palms facing inwards, and get into your starting position—your legs apart at shoulder-width. As you squat, bend your elbows to bring the bottles down to the shoulders. As you return to a standing position, move the water bottles above your head with your arms fully extended. You can even try a variation by keeping the bottles in your hands by your side, and palms facing each other.

Don’t forget to stretch

Stretching is a basic fitness routine that you can do even when you are working. According to the American Heart Association, 10 minutes of stretching is as good as walking the length of a football field. Start with some basic neck rolls while sitting on your chair and keep your back straight. The next is the upper-body arm stretch, where you clasp your hands above your head, palms facing outwards. Now push your arms up as you stretch outwards and hold this position for 10-30 seconds. Shoulder shrugs are the best way to loosen up those tense muscles. Keep your back straight and raise both your shoulders together towards your ears. Do this 10-15 times. There are similar stretches for your hamstrings and torso that can be done while sitting.

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