Get the app
Consumed

Take a Deep Breath, Your Guide to Staying Active at Home

Ratehub Logo
By:
Jessica Bondy

Jessica Bondy has over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, and is a Level 2 Myofascial Release Therapist. Her main focus has been rehabilitation and injury prevention, from the common chronic pains and injuries due to day-to-day office work, right down to teaching stroke patients how to walk again. 

We asked Jessica a few questions about her exercise routines to gain an understanding of how COVID-19 can impact our physical and mental wellbeing, and what we can do to get into a mindful state. Hint: it involves taking deep breaths.

--

As many Canadians continue to adjust to a work from home schedule, the spaces available to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing got a little smaller.

As a Certified Personal Trainer—CSEP, CrossFit Certified Coach, I’m not immune to the current state of the world. Prior to physical distancing, I considered my money was well spent on a gym membership, as well as semi-regular visits to my RMT.

But I’ve noticed my day-to-day activity level has dropped by half, and I find myself sitting on my couch to do work, instead of my desk, causing me to slouch heavily. I am noticing more tension through my neck and upper back, as well as some discomfort in my hips.

Sound familiar? Well, take a deep breath. Literally.

Deep breaths allow us to concentrate. Focusing on breathing is often connected to being present during moments of reflection and overall wellbeing has become a top priority.

Being stuck at home doesn’t have to mean a lack of physical activity. There are many at-home solutions that will allow you to maintain your physical, mental and fiscal fitness. I’m also here to introduce three basic stretches that can help you prepare your body for your at-home workout.

Let's begin by addressing the obvious—we’re physical distancing until further notice.

That means we’re all sitting around, moving less and perhaps being a tad more lethargic than we usually are. While kicking back in our comfies and working from home has its upsides, there are some downsides as well.

The absence of the usual walk to the (perhaps proverbial) water cooler, lack of ergonomic office configurations, and overall subsidence of general activity creates a multitude of obvious (and not so obvious) physical aggravations.

Give your hips a good stretch before you get started

Think of the hips as the epicentre of the body and hip flexors are the muscles that wrap from the lower portion of the lumbar (their origin), around your hip bones, right to the head of the femur—that big bone in your thigh (their insertion). When we sit for prolonged periods, these muscles are “folded” in on themselves on the frontal plane of the body, impinged in the hip crease, and become tighter and tighter. They then pull on the lower portion of the spine, creating a “tilt” in the pelvis, which has an adverse chain reaction on the back, hips, knees, shoulders and neck (the epicentre of the body!). 

Ever have sciatic pain? Aching in your hips or knees? Tension in your neck or shoulders? Most of this can be attributed to tight hips. With limited access to RMTs, chiropractors, doctors, etc., we must become our own Wellness Warriors and take action to keep our bodies fit and in fighting shape.

Here are 3 simple at-home stretches that will alleviate common aches caused by WFH set-ups and increased couch-surfing

Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretch

1. Kneel down on your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you.
2. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees. Keep your knee over your right ankle.
3. Place your hands on your hips
4. Gently push your right hip forward 
5. Hold for 30 - 60 seconds or more (the longer the better!) 
6. Switch legs and repeat 

*Remember those pesky hip-flexors I told you about? While this seems like a simple stretch, its efficacy is often overlooked. Opening up the front of the hips will lessen the “pull” or tension on your low back.

Pigeon Pose

1. Begin at the top of a push-up 
2. Bring your right ankle to your left wrist 
3. Lengthen your left leg behind you. Lay the top of your ankle on the floor 
4. If your hips don’t touch the floor, place them on top of a yoga block or pillow. 
5. Extend the spine. Rest your hands on the floor or a yoga block. 
6. Hold for 5 to 10 DEEP breathes (or longer). Switch sides and repeat. 

If you have bad knees, place a small pillow, folded towel or blanket under your knee. This will act as a cushion.

Seated Figure 4 Stretch

1. Sit upright in a sturdy chair. Place your right ankle on your left thigh, just above your knee. Place your hands on your shins. 
2. Keeping your spine straight, inhale deeply, exhale and lean slightly forward to deepen the stretch. 
3. Hold for 20–30 seconds (or longer). 
4. Return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg

Be as mindful with your money as you are about your physical health

Learn how to prioritize and assess your spending during these unprecedented times by using the Wellspent app. Value the money you do have and learn how to make mindful decisions in the process.

Download Wellspent 

Wellspent money management app for iOS
Wellspent money management for Android 

--

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.