The 6 best exercises to do at home if coronavirus closes your gym

WITH the coronavirus outbreak rapidly developing, droves of gyms are closing their doors in a bid to stop the deadly bug from spreading.

Earlier today, one of the UK's most popular gym classes Barry's Bootcamp closed all their studios across the country in a bid to protect fitness fanatics. And many other gyms also look set to shut up shop temporarily in the coming weeks, with health experts warning fitness spaces are high-risk environments for Covid-19 to spread. This is because in the gym individuals share much of the same equipment and often come into contact with each other's body parts. And Britain's top doctor Professor Chris Whitty warned that coronavirus can survive on hard surfaces, like weights and machines in the gym, for up to three days. Despite the gym closures and risks involved with fitness spaces, this doesn't mean your health and fitness regime need to be completely put on hold. Fitness and wellbeing expert, Jessie Pavelka, has revealed that you can stay fit during the coronavirus pandemic by doing some simple moves in the comfort of your own home. Here, the health guru, who has just launched a brand-new lifestyle app JP4, takes us through his top six exercises which will help you stay in shape during this tricky time...

Exercise 1. Cat cow combo

This is a perfect starting exercise to get warm and for mobilising your spine. Start in a tabletop position kneeling on all fours, with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips so your weight is evenly distributed. Start with a neutral spine exhaling and letting your stomach expand naturally out towards the floor. Then inhale, arching your back up and sucking in your bellybutton towards your spine while bringing your chin to chest. Then allow your back to drop back to its natural curvature as your exhale, releasing the stomach and lifting your head back up to look forward in the cow position. This a great way to gently get some flexibility into your spine and get in touch with your breath/core muscles. Repeat for at least five to ten repetitions or even up to 20, if you need to align your breathing and allow the spine to become more flexible and open. Targets and strengthens: Muscles of the back, hips, abdomen, chest and lungs. Highly effective in releasing tension in neck, upper back and shoulders.

Exercise 2. High plank walks

Position your body on all fours in the high plank position, meaning your hands are beneath your shoulders and your legs, back and neck in a straight diagonal line. Now slowly walk your hands back towards your feet. From there slowly rise up vertebrae by vertebrae, restacking the spine until you are standing fully erect. For an added bonus at the top, try opening up the chest by pulling the shoulder blades together and squeezing your glutes together. Enjoy the feeling of being open, strong and centred. Now repeat the sequence in reverse, coming down gradually to the floor and walking out the hands back to the high plank position. Re-centre here so you feel stable with a strong engaged core and tensed glutes before walking the hands back and completing the cycle again. Repeat this movement for 90 seconds, taking time to check your form every two to three repetitions. Try three sets. Targets and strengthens: Muscles of the abdominals, back and shoulder, quads, hamstrings and hip abductors.

Exercise 3: Russian twists

Start by sitting on the end of a low step bench or on the floor with your hands in front of your chest either clasped together or around any handy weighted object. Lean back so your upper body makes a 45-degree angle with the floor while raising your feet off the ground. Twist your torso and arms as far as you can to the right, then repeat the process to the left. That counts as one rep. Think of mimicking the motion of paddling a raft where the strength comes from a pivoting twist deep in the core and not from straining the shoulders and arms. Aim to do three sets of ten repetitions, always making sure you do enough to feel the burn in your core muscles on the twist. Targets and strengthens: Obliques, abdominals, hip flexors and muscles of shoulders.

Exercise 4: High Plank Shoulder Taps

Assume the starting high plank position as described in exercise two. Keeping your abs engaged and without allowing your hips to tilt, lift up your right hand across to tap your left shoulder. Drop it back to briefly resume the high plank position, then repeat the exercise this time bringing the left hand up to tap the right shoulder. Keep your core and hips as still as possible throughout by squeezing through your glutes and abdominals so your body platform is stable. Repeat and aim to do a set of at least 15 taps on each shoulder (a total of 30 overall); three sets. Targets and strengthens: Muscles of the triceps, abdominals, glutes, lower back and shoulders (deltoids).

Exercise 5: Bodyweight Squats

Stand with feet shoulder width apart and toes slightly turned out. Pull your belly button in to tighten your core and keep your head and neck up, looking forward with your eyes. This will help keep your back aligned and as straight as possible throughout. Slowly bend at the knees and drop your hips down and back as your lower your body down. Place weight through your heels to ensure they stay firmly planted on the ground during the descent. Push your arms straight out in front of your chest, to form a counterbalance, if needed. At the bottom of the exercise, as your thighs become parallel with the ground, pause for a moment then push back up to the starting position briefly squeezing your glutes at the top. Aim to descend slowly in the eccentric phase taking three to five secs and then push up more quickly for the concentric. Hold briefly and then repeat. Aim to complete 12 - 15 repetitions in a set – three sets. To make it more challenging hold a weighted object close to your chest, which will increase both the burn and the benefit. Targets and strengthens: Muscles of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals and calves.

Exercise 6: Mountain Climbers

Starting position is the baseline used for the high plank: body straight, body weight distributed on to the hands and feet with wrists beneath shoulders, abs pulled in, glutes squeezed and ensure your shoulders are pulled back downwards and away from the ears. Start by pulling your right knee as far forward as you can towards your chest. As the knee moves forward, pull your bellybutton in tighter towards your spine to keep the form strong in your plank. Quick switch the motion, swapping over to the left knee, bringing it forward to the chest and then continue to switch, building up a rapid running style cadence. This is great for raising your heart rate quickly and building a sweat. Core stability here is crucial, and make sure you focus on good form; that’s avoiding any mid-line sag and not letting the head or chin drop down towards the chest. Aim to complete three sets of around 45 to 60 seconds. Targets and strengthens: Virtually every muscle group - shoulders, arms, chest, obliques, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and hip abductors. By Lucy Jones The original article appears here: