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Exercise at home to help beat stress

Dancing is good for the body, mind and soul. Photo: Getty
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Oh no. You’re in lockdown. Self-isolating. Even avoiding people who look healthy – because they’re just as likely to be sick. This living under virtual siege can be a head-wrecker – but it doesn’t have to be.

With a bit of creativity and a determination that life really does go on – no matter what the rest of the world is saying – you can keep your sense of humour, ease off the stress and keep in shape. Of course one of the best ways to beat stress is to exercise.

It pays to remember that exercising and beating stress – along with eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking at least two litres of water a day – add up to a well-supported immune system, which helps ward off illness, and aids in recovery.

But how to go about exercise at home? How to make it less like you’re training for a prison break?

There are plenty of online videos to access, chock full of push-ups, downward-facing dogs, planks, cobras, forward lunges with arm drivers, and squat jumps. Woo hoo!

Maybe you have an old Jane Fonda workout video gathering cobwebs in the garage and waiting for you to put on brightly coloured underpants over your tights and perform all manner of aerobic and stretching wonders.

All, or some, of which is a good idea to include in your home-bound habits.

Stretching especially is a well-advised regular pursuit.

Of course, the standard gym floor routines work can feel too much like work. Here we go again. Down on the carpet. You can end up feeling more wearily righteous than emotionally energised. Where’s the fun, people?

Dancing, that’s where it’s at.

Research from the University of Brighton found that certain styles of dance can burn more calories an hour than cycling, running, or swimming. The scientists, working with dancers from a local academy, forensically analysed performance across half-hour sessions of ballet, ballroom, contemporary, salsa, street and swing dance.

The scientists were surprised to discover that participants in the contemporary, street and swing classes burnt more calories than they would in a comparative period of time for running, swimming or cycling. In the half-hour class, swing dancers burned an average of 293 calories, compared to 264 calories for running, 258 for football and 249 for swimming.

To ensure accurate and comparable data, participants’ weight, age and general fitness were taken into account.

The high energy output is a consequence of dancing demanding movement in all directions – hands and arms, feet, hips. knees and neck all get workout. The mixture of speeding up and slowing down as you move through the steps, along with this variety of all-body movement, is what makes dancing such an efficient workout.

Don’t know any of these dance moves? It doesn’t matter. There are plenty of classes online – and simply trying to learn a few moves will be good for the body, soul and, best of all, your sense of humour.

The New Daily is a media partner of the Women in Super Mother’s Day Classic Virtual, which happens online across Australia on Sunday, May 10, raising money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation to help fund breast cancer research. Register here.