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How to Stay active and fit during the epidemic Part 1 - Stretching Exercises

During the Coronavirus outbreak, most people are spending more time indoors.  To keep active and to boost our immunity, we can do some exercises at home.  Dr. Claudia Ng and our exercise therapist, Dark Yuen, will demonstrate some simple exercises suitable for the whole family to stay healthy and fit during this epidemic, beginning with some stretching exercises.

Dr. Claudia Ng: Well, besides maintaining good hygiene by washing hands frequently, the best ways to boost our immunity are having sufficient amount of sleep, eating healthy, and doing regular exercises.

Exercise Therapist: I agree. However, many people are now stuck at home working or gaming with electronic devices.  This is a big problem. Should we do some exercises at home too?

Dr. Claudia Ng: Right, it isn’t necessary to go out to do exercises, a lot can also be done at home.  Let’s show everyone a few simple exercises together!

Exercise Therapist: Sure!

  • Abdominal breathing

Speaking of exercise, it is important to learn how to breathe effectively.  First, lay down with both knees bent, inhale slowly by expanding the abdomen. Then, exhale slowly while contracting the abdomen. You may spend 4 seconds to breathe in fully and 6 seconds to breathe out completely.  Abdominal breathing can strengthen the diaphragm and greatly increase the lungs’ oxygen intake.

  • Stretching
  1. Hamstrings - Now let’s do a few stretching exercises.  The first one is Hamstrings stretch. Lie down on a mat.  Lift one leg straight up and hold the back of the leg with your hands.  Feel the stretch behind and hold 30 seconds.  If you cannot reach the leg with your hands, you may wind a towel over the bottom of the foot and pull both ends of the towel instead.
  2. Gluteals - Next is a stretch for the gluteal muscles.  Bend one knee with hip open, and place the foot above the opposite knee.  With one hand placed outside, the other one looping through the space between the two legs, grab the shin with both hands.  Pull the shin towards the body.  Feel the stretch in the buttock and hold for 30 seconds.
  3. Hip flexors - The next one is a hip flexor stretch.  Set up with your left knee bent at 90 degrees and the right knee on the floor.  Place both hands on the left thigh for balance, then slowly shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch at the front of your right hip just below the lower abdomen.  Hold for 30 seconds, then change to the other side.  Make sure that your front knee is not bent excessively nor shifted inwards such that the knee and the ankle are perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Cat pose - Next one is cat stretch.  Support your body with both hands and knees placed at shoulder and hip-width apart.  Breathe out slowly while pushing the back upwards, then breathe in slowly while pressing the back downwards, with head, neck and the buttocks tilting up, and the sternum pushing forwards.  Make sure that the shoulders are not hunching up, the arms and legs should remain perpendicular throughout the sequence. Repeat 20 times.  This is a great stretch for all the joints in the spine!
  5. Trapezius - Lastly, we will stretch the trapezius muscle.  Place your right hand at the left side of your head, and pull it forward towards the right.  Feel the stretch at the left side of your neck, hold for 30 seconds.  Try another direction by pulling your head straight towards the right shoulder.  As you change the direction of pull, different parts of the trapezius muscle can be stretched.  Don’t forget to do it on both sides!

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