Health

How to Exercise at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Yes, It’s Possible!)

Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or casual gym goer, the thought of picking up a dumbbell covered in germs is enough to make anyone cringe. And as the pandemic marches on (even as we slowly move towards vaccination), you might be even less inclined to get your butt to the gym than ever before.

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But if staying active is an important part of your life (hint: it should be!) you might be wondering how you’re supposed to go about this whole at-home workout thing.

Thankfully, it’s easier than you probably think.

“A lot of what you’ll find with most at-home workouts is about maintaining your current level of fitness,” says exercise physiologist Katie Lawton. “And with exercise and movement, consistency is always key.”

Here Lawton shares some practical advice about how to stay active at home:

  1. Find workouts through online videos and apps. The internet is chock-full of free workout videos. You can easily find classes like yoga, Zumba and circuit training that you can do in your own backyard. Test out a few workouts to find a series, program or instructor that you like. (Bonus points if you can get other members of your household to join you for a workout!)
  2. Walk, run or bike outside. Everyone could use a little fresh air. Hit the pavement in your neighborhood and challenge yourself to walk, run or bike a certain number of minutes or miles. If you’re an experienced fitness buff and you’re really looking to ramp up your heart rate, opt for hills or try a running-based HIIT workout. And, yes, it’s possible to keep this habit up even in the cold winter months.
  3. Focus on bodyweight movements. Now’s the time to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your workouts. These tried and true movements include things like pushups, squats, lunges, planks and burpees. They’re convenient, efficient and inexpensive (aka free). Pick a few different movements and create a circuit workout by completing as many reps of that one movement as possible in one minute. Then rest for a minute and continue on to the next movement and do the same thing. Repeat this for 15 to 20 minutes.  
  4. Try your own exercise bike or treadmill. “If you have access to a treadmill, stationary bicycle or elliptical, the internet has many amazing virtual rides, runs or walks to choose from,” suggests Neha Vyas, MD. “Traveling may be difficult right now, but with a few computer clicks, you could be riding your stationary bike on the streets of Lisbon, or anywhere else you choose. Imagine exploring some faraway locale, all from the comfort of your living room. Try imagining yourself in this location post-COVID!”
  5. Order inexpensive fitness equipment online. Exercise machines can be pricey, but there are other cost-effective options you can consider instead. Things like jump ropes, pull-up bars that attach to door frames, suspension trainers and resistance bands are inexpensive items that can really pack a punch when it comes to your workouts. Lawton recommends choosing a heavier resistance band and suggests tying the suspension trainer to a tree outside. You could also ask around if other family members or neighbors have old dumbbells or barbells that they no longer use.
  6. Utilize items around your house. Lawton encourages creativity when it comes to working out at home. Run up and down your basement stairs, use a chair for triceps dips or grab cans of soup or a gallon of water as a weight. Even jumping over a shoebox a few times can be a quick burst of cardio.
  7. Get your household involved. If you have kids, chances are they have more energy to burn off than you know what to do with and they’d be thrilled to be involved. Try to incorporate them into your plans to stay active – whether it’s encouraging them to do pushups with you or organizing a backyard obstacle course. Walk your dog every day, play tag with your kids or get your whole family involved in a backyard soccer game. Also never underestimate the power of a good dance party! It’s a great way to make memories with your family and burn off some stress and anxiety. 

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