From getting at-home workout motivation to practising mindfulness, consider this your go-to guide

There’s no denying that staying fit and healthy is vital for both our physical and mental wellbeing. But for many of us, it’s not as simple as heading to the gym a few times a week. If you can’t or just don’t fancy venturing out, it’s always good to know that you can help maintain your health and fitness from the comfort of your own home.

Here, the experts show us how with tips and tricks, from getting a good night’s kip to home exercise and practising mindfulness.

1. Stay active

According to the NHS, adults should do some type of physical activity every day to help reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke. For 19-64 year olds, at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week is what you should be aiming for and you should reduce time spent sitting or lying down if you can help it.

But if you find it tricky to make it down to the gym during the working week, or simply don’t like the sweat boxes, that’s totally fine. According to personal trainer, naturopathic nutritional therapist and certified functional medicine practitioner Danny Ly, there’s plenty you can do to get your heart pumping and stay physically active from home, whether you’re a fan of strength training or prefer cardio. Bear in mind that if you’ve not exercised for some time, or have any medical conditions or concerns, speak to your GP first, and make sure your chosen activity is appropriate for your fitness levels.

Home workouts are great,” says Danny. “They allow you to save time and they’re a brilliant way to help keep fit without paying for an expensive gym membership, too.”

And the good news is you don’t need fancy equipment. “Performing bench dips, step-ups and even rear foot elevated split squats are great home workout additions – there are some brilliant YouTube tutorials to show you how,” says Danny. “Using a chair as a substitute for a bench is handy as long as it’s sturdy,” says Danny.

If you’re in need of a good stretch, try these chair yoga poses you can do sitting at your desk.

And in case you need some extra motivation to stay fit at home, don’t forget the benefits.

“Staying active is incredibly important. It not only helps with burning calories (vital for long-term weight management) but for so many other bodily processes, such as improved digestion and enhanced cognitive function. And once you’ve completed an at-home workout, you’ll be hit with that rewarding rush of endorphins,” reminds Danny.

2. Eat well

The temptation to raid the biscuit tin may be overwhelming, but eating a balanced, plant-rich diet, brimming with fruits and vegetables, can help support mood and maintain energy levels.

Indeed, the NHS recommends that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, base meals around starchy carbs, such as potatoes, bread and pasta (and choose the higher fibre wholegrain versions), have some dairy or dairy alternatives, eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

“Remember, foods high in fat, salt and sugar will need to be mindfully enjoyed as this is where calories can really rack up quickly, without providing much nutrition, satiation or health benefits,” cautions Danny.

Still unsure? The 80/20 rule could be a helpful way to think about your diet.

“Try and allow 80% of what you eat to come from nutrient-dense, calorie-sparing healthy foods, such as lean protein, vegetables, fruits and complex carbs, such as legumes, beans and wholegrains. The other 20% of your calories can go towards more ‘indulgent’ treats.”

Balance, then, is key.

3. Stay zen

Finding strategies to manage everyday stress is important for overall health. This can include reducing your screen time or taking a break from social media. A great way to close some mental tabs is to meditate – think of it as exercise for your brain.

“Meditation can help you relax and feel at ease,” says Dr Serena Rakha, a health coach and NHS GP. “It also helps you practise patience.”

There are so many types of meditation that you’re sure to find one that suits you.

“You can focus on a flickering candle, or just open a window and listen to the sounds around you. Alternatively, for an easy five-minute meditation, you can recite in your head ‘I am breathing in, I am breathing out’.

“Another simple one is focusing on your breath, allowing any thoughts that come into your head to float away like a balloon.”

Need a helping hand? Try a Headspace six-month subscription gift card that’s sure to kick-start your mindfulness journey. Jam-packed with guided meditation sessions, the Headspace app teaches you life-changing skills in just a few minutes a day. What’s not to love?

4. Get your vits

It’s no secret that vitamin D is a powerhouse nutrient, so it’s important we get enough. It helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, which in turn keeps bones, teeth and muscles healthy. It’s also great for supporting our immune systems.

However, getting that daily dose of vitamin D can be tough. While the body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, between October and early March we do not make enough of it from sunlight, so it’s recommended during this time that all adults and children aged four and above take a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement. The Department of Health & Social Care also recommends that adults and children over four take a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D throughout the year if they: are not often outdoors, are in an institution like a care home, usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors or have darker skin. 

To help ensure you’re getting the recommended daily amount, consider taking Boots Vitamin D 10mcg Tablets.

“You can also find some vitamin D in everyday foods, such as oily fish, egg yolks, red meat and liver,” adds Danny. “But not enough to be able to rely on these sources alone.”

5. Hit snooze

A good night’s sleep can be challenging at the best of times, especially if you’re dealing with everyday stresses. Thankfully, Dr Gaby Badre, MD, PhD, associate professor, neuroscientist and medical doctor, has some tips for a more restful slumber.

“By mindfully changing our physical actions, we can create the desired neural outcome, such as controlling our circadian rhythm [the 24-hour cycles that form part of the body’s internal clock] and setting ourselves up for optimal sleep conditions,” he says.

Here are three of Dr Badre’s tips for a better night’s shut-eye:

Limit tech use

Avoid devices at least two hours before sleep and avoid use in the bedroom completely. The light that’s emitted from devices not only disrupts our sleep, but can keep us in a state of alertness. This heightened alertness contributes to a racing mind and sleep anxiety, causing us to potentially miss what’s known as the sleep gate – the window of time at the beginning of each sleep cycle where your body helps you fall asleep.

Want to find out more about the ins and outs of the sleep cycle? Read our piece on the stages of sleep here.

Drop the temperature

In order to get to sleep, and stay asleep, our internal body temperature must drop. To help facilitate this, have a warm shower or bath 30 minutes before bed to allow your body to go through a compensatory cooling-off period. Additionally, make sure your sleep environment is kept cool.

And set the scene for a good night’s slumber with This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, which is formulated with lavender, vetivert and camomile to help you relax before bedtime. Spritzzzz.

Time your meals

By eating on a regular schedule, you can anchor your circadian rhythm and promote consistent and restorative sleep. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks and heavy meals two to three hours before bedtime.

6. Limit the booze

Drinking alcohol regularly can take its toll on our physical and mental health – not to mention the sore head in the morning – so, if you do drink, try not to consume more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

“Controlling your intake of alcohol really is important from a nutrition perspective, too,” says Danny. “No good food decisions ever happen after drinking too much!”

And if you are having a few drinks, Danny has some tips for mindful consumption:

Alternate your drinks

Follow each alcoholic drink with something non-alcoholic, such as sparkling water. This is likely to help reduce your alcohol intake.

Choose clear spirits

Clear spirits, such as vodka and gin paired with low-calorie tonics or sodas, can help minimise your intake of excess sugars.

Eat first

Eating before drinking is also important to help slow down the absorption of the alcohol – and potentially saving you from overindulging in a greasy takeaway later into the evening. 

From having some alcohol-free days to discovering drink-free distractions, head this way for a mindful-drinking masterclass.

There you have it. Six simple steps you can take to help keep you feeling in tip-top condition, while you’re spending time at or working from home.

Information correct at time of publication (12.01am 14/02/2023)