Exercising at Home During COVID-19 (Or Anytime)
"Now more than ever, it is so important to exercise!"
Exercise, better sleep, and vitamin D are the three best ways to boost the immune system, they’re also great ways to keep your mind sharp. On today's live show, Dr. Nancy demonstrates her step-by-step home exercise program to keep us strong, flexible and pain-free during this stressful time.
- 00:06: Introduction
- 11:53: Backward Lunges
- 16:17: Curtsy Lunge with a Side Kick
- 19:07: Squats
- 21:43: Lateral Squats
- 23:02: Spidermans
- 25:14: Bear Planks
- 27:42: Bicycle Crunches
- 30:25: Skull Crushers
- 32:12: Burpee
- 37:23: Sun Salutation A
- 43:27: Sun Salutation B
- 49:28: Additional Yoga Poses
- 01:02:11: Beyond Exercise: Supplementation
- 01:05:59: Dr. Nancy’s 8-Part Exercise Series
The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown is really taking its toll on a lot of people. We hope you’re doing all you can to stay well — washing your hands regularly, and practicing social distancing. We know it’s difficult, but these things are very important at this point in the progression. It also doesn’t look like we’ll have more universal testing very soon, and when it does become more available, they’re still talking about testing only symptomatic people.
That’s a problem. If we look at that Princess cruise ship as a case study, we see that over 50% of those that tested positive did not have symptoms at the time and many only experienced symptoms weeks (not days) later. So we’ve got a lot to still figure out before we’re out of the woods. That means it’s time to start living life again, and making the most out of our home spaces and home time.
Fortunately, many people aren’t letting the Coronavirus stop them from having fun-nights in, and finding ways to connect — Livestream story reading, celebrity home concerts, and virtual game nights are popping up everywhere. Dr. Nancy and her kids decided to participate in a virtual dance party to get their bodies moving!
And that’s what we want to talk to you about today — moving your body! Most of us aren’t leaving the house right now, and the temptation is very strong to sit on the couch and watch TV or bury ourselves in phones and tablets. If you’ve given in to this and been more sedentary over the last few weeks, then maybe you find yourself stiffening up a bit, and maybe some of your old aches and pains have come back — well, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not alone, but it’s time to get your body moving. Now more than ever, it is so important to exercise!
If you’re someone who is used to taking fitness classes or a more structured work out at the gym, this might be tough. That’s why in today’s episode, we’re providing a structured program you can do at home — no equipment necessary. It’s all free, and it works! You can get active and even build a killer body right in your own home.
Let’s Work Out!
Some of the most effective exercises you can do require no equipment at all and can be done anywhere. Of course, if you have a set of dumbbells or resistance bands, these are an excellent way to ramp up the intensity on any of the moves we’re about to show you, but they aren’t necessary to get a great workout.
NOTE: Do not overdo it, especially if you’ve been less active lately. Start slowly — you’ve got time to build up your strength and endurance. We aren’t going anywhere any time soon!
This classic move is a great way to strengthen your legs and butt. Plus, some find them a little bit easier than forward lunges.
- Standing nice and tall with the tailbone tucked and the core engaged, step your right foot back so there’s about three feet between your feet.
- Keep both feet pointing straight ahead and keep the front knee behind the toes — don’t ever let it move beyond them.
- Place your hands wherever feels comfortable (on your hips, down at your sides, or clasped in front of the heart).
- Draw your shoulder blades together slightly and your head in line with your spine.
- Lower your back knee as far as you can before coming back up to standing.
- Do 8, 10, or 15 reps before repeating on the other side with the left foot forward and the right foot back.
For an extra challenge, place a band around your thighs, just above the knees or hold a dumbbell in each hand, keeping them down at your sides or resting them, one on each shoulder.
If you’re using weights, really keep the core engaged and the shoulders pulled back.
Curtsey Lunge with a Side Kick
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Step your left foot back, either behind your right foot or even a bit passt it and bend both knees into a lunge.
- As you come back up to standing, step your left leg out to the side, bringing your left foot off the ground.
- Repeat on the other side.
If you want to make this more challenging, place a band around your thighs, just above the knee. You can also hold a weight in the same hand as your standing leg. If you want to make this extra challenging – do both! Use the band and hold one weight!
You can also modify this by kicking your leg out to the side when you come up out of the curtsey.
This is another classic move that’s wonderfully effective and requires no equipment at all.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder distance apart and your toes pointing straight ahead.
- Bend your knees and sink your hips, keeping the back flat, head in line with the spine.
- Try to keep weight more in your heels, especially as you press yourself back up to standing.
- Do 10 to 15 reps.
- Squats are a really versatile movement. You can use dumbbells for this move, too. As with the backward lunges, hold one weight in each hand and either keep them down at your sides or prop one on each shoulder.
Again, you can do these with a band around your thighs — but make sure you focus on pressing the knees out. You don’t want them sickling in, as that can injure your knees. If you find you’re having a hard time keeping the knees pressing out, ditch the band.
You can do these with or without the band:
- Step out to the right and drop into a squat with your feet a little wider than shoulder distance apart.
- Bring the feet back together, and, if you want lower into a squat with the legs together.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Alternate sides for a total of 10 or 16 reps.
Not to be left out, let’s work the upper body a little bit.
- Begin in high plank, which looks like the top of a push-up. The head should be in line with the spine and you want to keep your gaze 3 to 5 inches out in front of you. Try not to look back at your toes while you do this exercise.
- Bring your right knee toward your right elbow and step the right foot back.
- Bring your left knee toward your left elbow and step the left foot back.
- Alternate sides for a total of 8 to 10 reps.
For more of a challenge, you can place a band around the soles of your sneakers.
For an extra extra challenge, add a push-up as you bring the knee toward the elbow.
This move works your upper body, your core, and even your quads.
- Begin in a tabletop position with the hands underneath the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips.
- Engage the core and lift your knees a few inches off the ground. Keep the back flat and the head in line with the spine. You want to try and keep your torso still throughout this move.
- Bring your right hand and left knee together. Step back into that original Bear pose.
- Tap your left hand and your right knee together. Step back into Bear.
- Repeat, alternating sides, for a total of 10 to 16 reps.
If this hurts your knees, do shoulder taps instead. Alternate tapping your shoulders with your hands, instead of alternating hand-to-knee.
Start by lying on your back for this core exercise.
- Bring the hands behind your head with your elbows pointing straight out to the sides.
- Lift the head, neck, and shoulders off the ground, chin moving away from the chest.
- Straighten your left leg and draw your right knee in toward your chest, twist your torso so your left elbow moves to meet the right knee at the same time. Keep the core engaged!
- Alternate sides for a total of 10 to 16 reps.
If this hurts your neck or back, you can work your core out by doing forearm planks instead. Or, try a reverse plank, or a V pose.
If you have a set of dumbbells, this is a good tricep exercise.
- Hold a weight in each hand directly above the torso and engage the core.
- Bend your elbows, bringing the weights beside your let ear.
- You want to imagine there’s a bar across your elbows and your bending your arms over it.
- Do a set of 10 to 16 reps.
- Begin by standing up nice and tall, with feet hip distance apart, shoulder blades drawing together, tailbone tucked, and your core engaged.
- Lower down into a squat until your hands touch the ground and jump back into a high plank. Make sure your feet are still hip distance apart and your hands are directly under the shoulders. Keep your gaze 3 to 5 inches out in front of you.
- Jump your feet back up to your hands, and, as you come up, jump up into the air, taking the arms overhead. That’s 1 burpee.
- If jumping is too intense, just take it out! Still lower into a squat but step back into a plank. Step one foot and then the other back up to meet your hands, and, instead of jumping at the top, rise up onto your toes and take the arms overhead.
- Try and do 10.
Voila! There’s a total body workout with no equipment necessary that will really get your blood pumping!
The above workout will get the joints moving, and your heart rate up, but there is also another type of movement that your body needs these days more now than ever — especially if you find that you’ve gotten stiffer with more aches and pains. It’s called yoga! And you can do it. When it comes to yoga, there’s an option for everyone, from mom’s getting back in shape, to serious athletes and advanced bodybuilders, as well as seniors of all abilities. Just do it at your own pace, to your own ability level.
Yoga is wonderful for strengthening the mind-body connection while also strengthening and toning the muscles of the body. Plus, it challenges your balance and improves flexibility, which is great for keeping your bones and your joints healthy and strong.
First, you want to warm up the body by doing a few Sun Salutations. The only equipment you’ll need is a mat. If you have a block or two, you can use those as well but if you don’t, that’s okay.
Sun Salutation A
- Begin at the top of your mat in what’s called Mountain Pose. Stand with your feet together, tailbone tucked, shoulders down and back slightly, and the crown of your head lifting toward the sky. Your arms can be down at your sides or palms together in front of your heart.
- Take about three slow inhales and exhales here. If you’re a more experienced yogi or if your balance is good, feel free to close your eyes.
- Open your eyes if you closed them and take your arms overhead as you inhale.
- Exhale and swan dive your hands to the ground and come into a forward fold. If they don’t reach – that’s perfectly okay. You can bring your hands to your shins or let them dangle toward the ground. Relax your head and neck.
- On your next inhale, come halfway up with a nice flat back. Again, your hands can either be on the shins or you can come up on your fingertips on the ground.
- Exhale and forward fold.
- On your next inhale, step back so you’re in Plank Pose. You should look like you’re at the top of a push-up. You want your hands directly under the shoulders, head in line with the spine, feet hip width apart, and your tailbone tucked. You don’t want your hips to high or too low — engage your core to protect your lower back!
- Now, you have two options here. On an exhale, either lower all the way down onto your stomach, or come halfway down into Chaturanga.
- Inhale and come up into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog. To come into Cobra, you’ll place the hands underneath the shoulders and just lift the torso off the ground. For Upward Facing Dog, you’ll begin with the hands underneath the shoulders and slide forward a little bit as you lift your torso, hips, and thighs off the mat, pressing just the tops of your feet into the mat.
- Exhale to Downward Facing Dog. You should look like an upside down ‘V.’ Again, feet should be hip distance apart and your hands should be shoulder-width apart. Press into the mat evenly with all ten fingers, especially the middle knuckle of each hand. Shoulders should be down out of your ears even though you’re bending forward and you want to reach your hips up toward the ceiling.
- Look up at your hands and on an inhale, walk or step your feet to meet them.
- Exhale and fold.
- Inhale all the way up to standing, arms overhead.
- Exhale your hands down to your sides.
Think you’ve got it? Don’t worry if you didn’t entirely sync your breath with each movement. As you practice more and more, that will come more naturally over time. Repeat Salutation A a few times.
Sun Salutation B
- Begin in the same position as you did in Sun Salutation A — in Mountain Pose. Inhale the arms overhead and at the same time, bend your knees and sink your hips as if you’re sitting in an invisible chair. Right away, if you feel any pinching in the shoulders, release your arms to more of an angle or even straight out in front of you. Check in with your low back — you don’t want to stick your booty out. Tuck the tailbone so you have a nice flat back.
- Straighten the legs as you exhale and come release into a forward fold.
- Inhale halfway up and exhale, stepping back into Plank Pose.
- Lower all the way or halfway down on an exhale, and inhale up into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog.
- Exhale to Downward Facing Dog. Breathe here.
- Up until this point, this has been really similar to a Sun A, right? Well, here’s where it’s a little different. Look up at your hands and step just your right foot forward. Drop your back heel down so your foot is at a 45-degree angle, left toes pointing toward the top left corner of your mat. With the right knee bent and the left leg straight, inhale up to Warrior I pose. Hips should be facing toward the front of the mat and your arms should be overhead.
- Exhale the hands down to frame your right foot and step back to Downward Facing Dog.
- On your next inhale, come into Warrior I with the left foot forward the right foot back. Stay here for a breath or two, release the hands and find your way back to Downward Facing Dog.
- Look up at your hands, and on an inhale, step, walk, or even hop to the top of your mat.
- Exhale and fold.
- Inhale all the way up to standing — arms overhead.
- Exhale your hands to your sides.
After all this you may be feeling tired, so you can always take a rest in Child’s Pose.
Alright, now that you’ve created a little heat within the body and the muscles are all warmed up, let’s move through a short sequence that is both strengthening and calming at the same time.
Warrior II Pose
- From the top of your mat, step back with your left foot so your feet are about three feet apart. You want your legs to be in the same position as they were in Warrior I pose during Sun Salutation B. The difference here is you want to keep your torso facing to the left. Your shoulders should be directly over the hips, the core should be engaged, and the tailbone should be tucked.
- Inhale your arms shoulder height and take your gaze out over the middle finger of your right hand. Try and keep the arms plugged into their sockets while you reach out in both directions with your hands. Keep the shoulders down away from your ears.
- Take 5 even breaths here before straightening the right leg and switching sides, bending into the left leg.
Next, come into Triangle
- From Warrior II on the left side, straighten your left leg, and at the same time, pull your right hip back slightly. Tip your torso, bringing your left hand anywhere along the left leg — except the knee. Avoid putting any excess pressure on your knee. This is also where that yoga block comes in handy if you have one. Place the block behind the left shin and bring your left hand to rest on it. Extend your right hand toward the sky and either look up at your hand or look down at the floor, especially if you have neck issues.
- Again, hold for 5 breaths before coming up. To do so, feel as if someone is pulling you up by that right hand.
- Keeping the arms shoulder height, turn the right toes toward the front of the mat, left foot at a 45-degree angle and find Triangle on this side.
Bound Ankle Pose
- Bring the soles of the feet together and take the hands around the ankles, sitting up nice and tall.
- Feel free to stay here and breathe. This might be enough for you. You never want to feel pain in yoga – you want to feel what I like to call “the good hurt.”
- If you’d like to go further, start to hinge forward at the hips, maintaining a nice flat back. You can use your elbows to gently guide the legs open a little more by pressing them into the inner thighs or the calves.
- Wherever you are – take 5 deep breaths. You can even close your eyes if you’d like.
If this is too tough, you can extend your legs out in front of you, and slowly walk your hands forward between your legs.
Slowly, come to lie flat on your back.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet flat on the mat, hip distance apart. Your arms should be down along your sides.
- In this pose, it’s really important to keep your face turned toward the sky. You don’t want to move your head side to side because you could injure your neck.
- Inhale and curl the tailbone off the mat, lifting the hips up toward the ceiling. Imagine you have a block between your thighs — keep the knees hugging in toward each other, don’t let them wing out. Engage your glutes and press into the mat with the inner edges of both feet. If you can, gently press the back of your head into the mat.
- Hold for 5 breaths.
Finally, let’s find a nice relaxing Spinal Twist to restore balance to the body before you take rest in Savasana.
- Extend the legs long and breathe here for a moment, noticing how you feel.
- Inhale and bring your knees into your chest. Give them a little squeeze.
- Bring the knees across the body. You can use your left hand to gently press on the outside of the right thigh to deepen this twist a little bit. Or feel free to just rest the hand there. Extend your right arm out to the right, shoulder height. You can take your gaze toward that right hand.
- Hold for 5 breaths before rolling onto your back, extending the leg down, and repeating on the left side.
At the end of every yoga practice, no matter how short, it’s always a good idea to come into Savasana for a few minutes. This gives the body the opportunity to absorb the wonderful practice you just gave it. All you have to do is simply lie on your mat with your arms down at your sides, palms facing up, and breathe naturally with the eyes closed for anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. Your body will thank you for it.
Beyond Exercise: Supplementation
Exercise does so many great things for your body, not just your immune system. It can also reduce inflammation, which probably began to set further in over the past weeks. So in addition exercise, focus more than ever on eating a healthy, more plant-based diet, and consider supplementing with Smarter Curcumin every day to help fight inflammation at its core and help you better deal with stress.
If you don’t know about curcumin, it is the concentrated active ingredient inside turmeric, and the form curcumin Smarter uses is the most bioavailable — meaning it absorbs into your body quickly and completely, so you get the most bang for your buck. Smarter Curcumin is a must for your joints, but it also helps keep your heart healthy, and even boosts the immune system in a different way than vitamin D does.
Speaking of which, you should also be taking Vitamin D3 each day — a full therapeutic dose of 5000 IUs. As Dr. Nancy mentioned in her last show, Vitamin D is a proven nutrient for boosting immunity. Studies even showed that people who regularly take a therapeutic dose of vitamin D daily had 40% fewer respiratory infections than those who take a standard dose (like you get in a multi). That’s something else that we all need right now.
Smarter Vitamin D3 is really different from traditional D3 supplements:
- It’s 100% plant-based, which you won’t find in most stores
- It gives you the full therapeutic dose of vitamin D3 — the 5000 IUs
- It comes in a coconut oil based softgel, since Vitamin D is fat soluble it needs a carrier oil to work best.
- Plus the added vitamin K2 means extra bone support.
Dr. Nancy’s 8-Part Exercise Series
We know how hard it is to stay motivated to exercise at home, and how helpful it is to have a structured program that’s both challenging and fun to keep you moving.
So we’re making Dr. Nancy’s 8-part “at home” exercise video series and 60-page workout guide available to all of you for free. This will be available very soon so stay tuned for more information!
Stay safe, stay motivated, and stay home.