Yes, it’s possible to exercise in small spaces

Yeah, we get it. Not everyone wants a figure quite like this. But you'll never regret doing a basic workout that will also boost your mental health.

Let’s face. It’s pretty horrible being locked down in a confined space. The reality is that most South Africans – especially those in high-density townships and informal settlements – are finding the covid-19 fight incredibly difficult.

To make matters worse, during the lockdown you are only allowed to leave your house for quick visits to the grocery story, chemist or doctor. Even jogging is a big no-no until midnight on Thursday, 16 April 2020.

Prof. Kevin Thomas, who heads up the psychology department at the University of Cape Town, says, “Broadly speaking, everyone needs to protect their mental health during this time.”

Thomas’s training is in clinical psychology and his research is focused primarily on the causes of stress, anxiety, trauma and disrupted sleep. In an article on UCT’s website he notes some common mental health issues faced by people around the world who are currently in lockdown due to the coronavirus spread. He recommends that people still make time for some sort of exercise.

SABC sports anchor Jody Hendricks says for many it might feel like a lost cause to try and squeeze some exercise in a tiny space.  But the trick is to keep going – even if it’s minimal. Getting some kind of daily exercise is better than none at all.

“Don’t just Netflix and chill,” says Hendricks who lives in a Jozi apartment. “The most important thing is to stay active. Because of the lockdown I too cannot go to the gym, but now I’m doing stomach exercises at home. If you’re privileged enough to have a yard, jog up and down. Skipping and cardio exercises works well from home too. We can stay fit without doing weights.”

Hendricks recommends these three workout tips for small spaces:

Go “mountain climbing” in your living room

Don’t worry. You don’t need an actual mountain. To do a mountain climber, get into push-up position. Then step one foot forward as if you’re walking up a staircase. Repeat with the alternate foot. Do this move as fast as you can for one minute.

Squat against the walls

Old-fashioned wall squats don’t need loads of space. You just need, of course, a wall. Put your back against the wall and slide down until your hips, knees and ankles are all making right angles with the floor. Hold this for as long as you can bear it, then let yourself rest for 10 seconds. See if you can manage at least three to five more squats.

Lift your knees

No, seriously. Pick up those knees! That’s an entire move right there and a great cardio option too. Put your hands with palms down in front of you and try to hit them with your kneecaps. Repeat three times.