Covid-19 Home Recovery Survival Guide: What exercises to do

The dead bug exercise, which can protect the spine and relieve lower back pain from sitting or lying down for long periods.
The dead bug exercise, which can protect the spine and relieve lower back pain from sitting or lying down for long periods.ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - Being isolated in a room while recovering from Covid-19 may cause patients to become inactive. But fitness trainers say people should exercise to boost their energy.

Ms Krystle Theseira, a fitness trainer at Level Gym in Telok Ayer, says: "Doing low-intensity exercises can improve blood circulation, reduce back pain and maintain one's mobility during extended periods of inactivity."

Ms Theseira, and Ms Lynette Huang, a personal trainer team leader at True Fitness at ESR BizPark @ Chai Chee, share five exercises that Covid-19 patients in isolation can do.

Dead bug

This exercise can protect the spine and relieve lower back pain from sitting or lying down for long periods, says Ms Theseira.

Steps:

1. Lie down on an exercise or yoga mat.

2. Lift your legs so your knees are directly over your hips. Extend both arms towards the ceiling.

3. On an exhale, slowly lower your right arm and left leg until they are just above the floor.

4. On an inhale, bring them back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

5. Keep your hips and lower back stable throughout the movement and perform each repetition slowly and with control. Engage your core muscles by actively pressing your lower back into the floor.

Repeat five times on each side and do four sets of the exercise.

Hip bridge


PHOTO: TRUE FITNESS

Long hours of sitting or resting can affect the hips, leading to joint pain, especially in the knees. This exercise, Ms Huang says, helps to strengthen and stretch the hips.

Steps:

1. Lie down on a mat and rest your hands on your sides with knees bent.

2. Place your feet flat on the floor, beneath your knees.

3. Tighten your abdomen and glutes, pushing your lower back into the floor.

4. Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.

5. Squeeze your core and pull your navel towards your spine.

6. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then lower your hips to return to the starting position.

Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times.

Squat to reverse lunge


ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

As patients will not be walking much during home recovery, this exercise, Ms Theseira notes, works the same muscle groups used when walking, climbing stairs, bending over or carrying heavy loads.

Steps:

1. Begin the exercise with your feet slightly wider than your hips.

2. Then, squat down, being mindful to keep your chest up.

3. As you stand up, immediately step back with your right leg and perform a reverse lunge, then repeat on the left.

Repeat 10 times on each side and do four sets of the exercise.

Cat cow stretch


PHOTO: TRUE FITNESS

This stretch, when synchronised with deep breathing, helps to work the spinal muscles and improves blood circulation in the spinal column, notes Ms Huang.

It also improves posture and flexibility, and relieves back pain, which is helpful for patients resting or lying down for long hours.

Steps:

1. Use a mat and get on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips.

2. Inhale and lift your tail bone upwards, push your chest forward and allow your core to be lowered. This is the cow pose.

3. Lift your head and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead.

4. Exhale and round your spine outward. Elevate from the ground with fingers spread and tuck your tailbone in. This is the cat pose.

5. Relax and release your head towards the floor without forcing your chin to your chest.

Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Single leg glute bridge


ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

Spending long periods in a seated position can cause the piriformis muscle - located in the glutes, near the top of the hip joint - to tighten, potentially leading to back pain.

Strengthening the glutes by performing movements such as the single leg glute bridge may help to prevent, reduce or even get rid of the pain, says Ms Theseira.

Steps:

1. Do this exercise on a padded exercise mat or yoga mat if possible.

2. Lie on your back with your palms face down by your side.

3. Bend your knees and place both feet on the ground.

4. Lift up one leg, squeeze your glutes and imagine pushing the ground away with your foot.

5. Keep your upper back in contact with the floor and lift your hips until your lifted leg forms a straight line with your back.

Repeat 12 times on each leg and do four sets of the exercise.