I work as a software developer and like many others, I’ve been working from home for almost a year now. Personally, I like it more than I don’t, but there are a few potential downsides to that. One of which is, since we don’t have to go to work anymore, it’s very easy to forget to move as much as one should to stay healthy.
In this post, I wanted to share a couple of tools that help me stay active. But first, let's make sure everyone is on the same page about the benefits of physical activity.
Everyone knows that exercises are good for your health. From kindergarten, we are taught that regular physical activity reduces risks of cardiovascular diseases, improves blood pressure, etc. All the good stuff. But you probably already know that.
This is also a pretty well-known fact, I think. You can raise endorphins levels just by doing 15-mins workouts several times a week. It decreases the chances of depression and anxiety, which is great.
And these reasons alone are good enough, but it's not all that there's to it. There's this other side, and it seems to me it isn't spoken about nearly as much as the previous two. Well, either that or I've been living under a rock for the past couple of decades.
I learned about it kind of randomly not so long ago, when I was taking this Coursera MOOC called Learning How To Learn (I'm a student, and I wanted to know how to study more efficiently). One of the instructors on this course is Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, who is a very prominent neuroscientist. And in one of the course's videos he said that until recently, it was thought that the growth of new neurons did not occur in adult people's brains. Yes, science said, you can learn new things during life, creating new connections between neurons, but they're the same old neurons that you had when you were born. However, Dr. Sejnowski and his colleagues at the Salk Institute discovered that in an important part of your brain, which is responsible for learning and memory, the Hippocampus, new neurons are being born even in your adulthood. And it appears that exercise helps this happen.
I don't know about you, but I think it's pretty cool. I mean, exercises literally make you more brainy! So next time you are struggling with a bug in your code, try going out for a quick run, and maybe while you are moving, the solution will come to you.
Ok, now when we've established that it's super important to exercise regularly, let me tell you real quick what helps me in my daily training. Of course, there are a number of options to chose from if you decide to start exercising.
Depending on the situation with COVID in your country, going to a gym, or swimming pool might not be such a great idea yet. Many of us still try to minimize our social contacts, and working out at home is the only way to stay active for many people. Jogging is a good option as well, and, personally, I love it; however, I'm not keen on running when it's cold or muddy outside.
So last year I discovered a couple of mobile apps that are absolutely free but nevertheless incredible in terms of their usefulness. What's amazing about them is that neither of them shows any ads, despite being totally free, and taking into account the amount of awesome quality content that they provide. Granted, they ARE kind of ads themselves, that is their sole purpose is clearly to promote big brands behind them, but, honestly, it doesn't bother me.
The two apps that I'm talking about are NTC, which is short for Nike Training Club, and Adidas Training App. They are both great, but I tend to use NTC most of the time because it has yoga, and workouts are not limited to bodyweight only. However, Adidas has nice unique features too. For instance, it allows you to create custom workouts. It's really neat: you select a preferred duration and target muscle group and, voila - it suggests you a set of drills, which you can further fine-tune, replacing the ones that you don't like. Another really nice touch in the Adidas app is the ability to filter out the drills that are not neighbor-friendly. I live in an apartment, so this comes in quite handy for me. Both apps include warmup and cooldown into all their workouts, so you don't have to worry about that. Also, there are modifications to most of the movements, so that people with all levels of the physique could follow along.
Anyway, if you haven't tried these apps, I highly recommend that you download them and try to experiment. See if they work for you.
Thanks for reading, have fun and take care!