Visits to the gym may not be an option these days, but even before the coronavirus outbreak all the money, time and effort it took to be a dedicated gym-goer were simply not practical for a lot of people. However, there’s nothing to stop you from getting your fitness fix at home during lockdown and beyond. We talked to Svava Sigbertsdottir, founder of The Viking Method and creator of The Mobility Cards exercise plans, about the benefits of working out in the comfort of your own front room. She explains exactly why it’s so important that people remain active as they get older…
How do you motivate yourself?
We’ve all thought about exercising more often but when you’ve got mental hurdles to jump over, actually doing the exercise can feel too overwhelming and completely off-putting. If you’ve never exercised, or at least not in a long time, building up the physical and mental confidence to do so can be a challenge.
“It’s hard in the beginning because you’re having to tell yourself something you don’t know yet,” agrees Svava. “Start every workout with the power pose. Stand with your feet apart, chest out and hands on your hips. Tilt your chin upwards and tell yourself you are strong, capable and ready to start your routine.”
This positive mental attitude will put you in the right frame of mind and affirm your strength. “Then, just do as much as you can. Anything is better than nothing,” she insists. “Bolster your confidence with doing.”
What are the benefits?
According to Svava, exercises that focus on improving balance and coordination help save you from falls and possible fractures as you get older. They can also help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“People often think that because these things are to do with the brain, you should do more sudoku or mental maths. However, the number one thing is to train yourself in balance and coordination. Processing speed and direction improves brain function and cognitive thinking, so it’s extremely important.”
Is it safe?
Exercising at home on your own can be a daunting thought, but scrap any images you have of backflips and weightlifting. Svava has designed The Mobility Cards with older joints and muscles in mind.
“I’ve seen some routines where people have to come down to the floor and get back up again, which can be quite hard if you’re not used to exercising. The wrists become quite sensitive, so bearing your weight on them can hurt a bit or feel uncomfortable. That’s why I decided to make every move either standing or sitting and create a routine that you can adjust according to your range of motion.”
So it seems it’s perfectly possible to improve your fitness without throwing your back out.
What’s the routine?
“You don’t have to download an app, buy loads of equipment or struggle through YouTube videos,” insists Svava. “All you need is yourself, a chair and you’re good to go.”
It may sound too good to be true, but it really isn’t. The Mobility Card deck is made up of five groups of five exercises, a super-simple warm-up and some post-workout stretches. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the cards which are fully adjustable to your level of fitness. You can increase or decrease the sets or reps if you need to.
“I split the routine into sections so that you can get a full-body workout without having to think,” explains Svava. “You can just grab a group of cards and get to it. Each set engages your legs, core and upper body while helping improve balance, coordination and rotation. The power pose and a simple roll-down exercise is all you need to do to warm up and you finish with the post-workout cards to avoid any aches and pains.”
The deck is designed with a plan in mind, but it’s completely adaptable to the individual. Start slowly and ease yourself in if you’re worried about overexertion.
Does it really work?
Short answer – yes. “I’ve got some really good feedback from customers who say they’re now moving every day because the routine isn’t too overwhelming,” Svava says. Which goes to show you don’t need all the gear and gadgets to boost your fitness. “If you keep it simple and don’t stunt your progress by overwhelming yourself with too much, you can get everything out of your home training.”
Fancy having a go?
Here are four of our favourite exercises to get you started.
1. One-legged swings
(30 seconds on each leg): Any exercise you do on one leg strengthens the knees.
2. Backward rotations
(12 reps alternating sides): Rotating your body improves mobility and flexibility.
3. Arms in, one leg up
(10 reps on each leg): Exercise can still be done while seated and it’s great if you have a bad back.
4. Punch-up with knee-up
(30 seconds): Moving from one leg to the other with alternate arm movements will aid balance and coordination.
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