Grab that mop for an indoor workout! Household chores can help you keep fit too

  • Fitness
  • Friday, 10 Apr 2020

To give your arms a more intense workout, use a rag cloth to clean surfaces using similar motions and directions as the mopping. — AFP

The air outside is so fresh these days that outdoor fitness enthusiasts are probably screaming to be let loose.

Unless you’re a yogi or introvert, being cooped indoors can take a heavy toll on your overall wellbeing.

As our regular routines have been disrupted, we have to find a workable balance to maintain our sanity for the next two weeks... or more, if we misbehave.

It’s important to stick to your daily routine as best as possible, just as you would when you head to the office five days a week.

If your workout days are every other day, keep to that.

Otherwise you will disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and disturb your mental health.

A number of readers have requested for workout routines they can easily do at home, besides walking around their compounds, during this confinement period.

There are tons of fitness videos available on YouTube and a number of instructors are also offering free live-streaming classes.

If these classes don’t suit your timing, you can always replay them later.

Whether you are disciplined enough to follow them is your call.

During Wuhan’s lockdown, Chinese officials had offered tips on how to deal with the emotional toll during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“If your emotions have been particularly suppressed, look for an isolated spot and have a good cry for a few minutes.

“After crying, you will feel relaxed. Then you will feel better than you were before you started crying.

“If conditions allow, you can install a punching bag or a sandbag at offices or rest areas, and you can spend a few minutes doing some punching exercises.

“It can also help you relax and adjust, ” advised Communist Party secretary Yang Fude.

As most of us are working from home or are on semi-vacation, punching a bag at the office is out of the question.

So, punch the air instead! It may not give you the endorphin release from punching an object, but at least, your arms are getting a workout.

Or lock your room or bathroom door and let the tears flow.

Cry, baby, cry

Feeling extra tense, irritated, frustrated or anxious being stuck at home during the MCO? Just let those tears out and relieve your bottled-up emotions. — 123rf.comFeeling extra tense, irritated, frustrated or anxious being stuck at home during the MCO? Just let those tears out and relieve your bottled-up emotions. —

Like the ocean, tears are saltwater. They lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones and contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.

Believe it or not, emotional crying can also help you lose weight as it is linked to hormones that heighten your cortisol level, which is induced when you have bottled-up emotions.

According to biochemist Dr William Frey, stress-induced tears remove many kinds of toxic substances from the body.

Dr Frey, who is the author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears, concluded that weeping is an excretory process that removes substances that can build up during times of emotional stress.

In response to this, our body is unable to store more fat as you’ve already released the responsible hormones through crying.

Note that this benefit only comes from tears triggered by real emotions, not when you’re peeling onions or a dust particle has gotten into your eyes.

Scientists also advise shedding your tears from 7pm to 10pm, as this is apparently the best time to cry over sad movies or your broken relationships.

Once you’ve gotten the crying out of the way, let’s explore some ideas to firm up and tone your body.

Instead of suggesting the traditional jumping jacks, planks and crunches, I’m going to recommend something different – a combination of cardio and strength training exercises – to spice things up and spring clean your home at the same time.

All you need is a mop (or vacuum cleaner if your space is carpeted), a rag cloth and a pail of water.

Mop, don’t mope

First, get the furniture out of the way to ensure that you don’t miss any spots on the floor.

All that pushing and lifting of heavy objects will engage numerous muscle groups.

When you lift something (or someone like your child) off the floor, remember to always engage your core, bend your knees and keep the object close to your body before placing it down elsewhere.

Put on some music so that you can follow a rhythm.Mopping burns roughly 240 calories an hour, so you can burn those extra snacks or homemade gourmet meals off. — FilepicMopping burns roughly 240 calories an hour, so you can burn those extra snacks or homemade gourmet meals off. — Filepic

Then grab a mop (or vacuum cleaner) and start mopping, using big strokes – up, down, left, right and diagonal.

For added intensity, try standing on one leg while mopping.

Do each stroke 10 times before changing direction.

Use both hands to move the mop first, then switch to a single hand, alternating between both your hands. That way, you won’t overwork your dominant arm.

To mop under the sofa, chair or bed, get into a deep squat position or kneel to get to those hard-to-reach places.

Alternately, use the rag cloth to mop with your feet, one leg at a time. You’ll feel the thighs burning from this activity!

To give the toes a workout, try picking up the rag cloth with your toes. Drop it into the pail (it should be nearby), bend over and rinse it.

If your bucket comes with a mop wringer, that means less of a workout for you.

But if it doesn’t, use both hands to wring out the water from the mop after rinsing it – one hand holds the noodles and the other holds the base of the mop stick.

Again, consciously switch sides every time. This works your arm, back and core muscles.

To give your arms a more intense workout, use a rag cloth to clean the windows using similar motions and directions as the mopping activity.

However, this time, you’ll (hopefully) have to stretch your arms above the head so your shoulder muscles get a workout too.

If the window or surface that you’re cleaning is high, you probably need to stand on your toes to reach them.

But you can alternate staying on your toes to clean those high places, with standing flat on your feet to clean the lower areas. This gives your calves a break.

I’ve been trying this for a week now as my fastidious mother has barred our regular kakak (cleaner) from entering our home until the movement control order (MCO) is over.

I actually (yes, for the first time in my life!) scrubbed the bathroom wall tiles, the floor, the tub, the sink, etc, using my hands.

My triceps are still hurting after two days. My arms are definitely becoming more toned, so I only train with weights twice a week, as opposed to three times.

I don’t know how our kakak cleans three houses a day because mopping our medium-sized house and washing one bathroom is equivalent to two days of workouts for me!

The garden? Worms, weeds and soil are not my thing, so I stay away.

It’s my mother’s territory, and pride. I’d rather jog around and chase the squirrels.

For those of you complaining about putting on weight because you’re becoming budding bakers and chefs, you just need to keep moving and do it consciously.

Most household chores burn calories using some of the same physical movements that you do in the gym.

Apparently, mopping can burn roughly 240 calories an hour.

The more you move, the more calories you will burn, as every activity can add up. Who says you need a gym?

Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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