Staying Active Through COVID-19
For many people, being homebound and living and working in the same space during the COVID-19 pandemic, has made it challenging to be physically active. Especially as many exercise options are unavailable.
But now more than ever, it is important to integrate movement into your daily routine. Regular physical activity is vital for the health of both your body and your mind and can help to manage stress, lower anxiety, boost energy levels and support your immune system. Here are some tips to help you stay active both inside and outside of your home while on lockdown.
Get Moving Outside
With the warmer weather here to stay, there may be some confusion around what you can and cannot do outside. Though recommendations will continue to change, as long as you are symptom-free, have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and are able to practice physical distancing, it is considered safe to go for a walk, run or bike ride. If you are exercising outdoors, here’s how to stay safe yourself and protect others:
- Leave at least two meters or six feet of distance between you and other people.
- Pick a quiet route and time of day to help maintain appropriate distance from others.
- If you are running or biking, stay as far away as possible from pedestrians and stagger behind other runners or cyclists.
- Do not stay or play in parks.
- Respect trail, beach or park closures.
- Avoid touching benches, pull-up bars and other outdoor surfaces as much as possible.
Remember to wash your hands with soap and water—or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer—before leaving your house and as soon as you return home.
Stay Healthy at Home
As we are all required to stay home as much as possible, everyone is looking for more ways to be physically active without going anywhere. Luckily, you don’t need expensive equipment or a lot of space—just a little more thought and creativity. Before starting a new fitness program, remember to check with your health care provider and go slowly to prevent injuries. Here are some ideas to keep you active and healthy at home:
Go online. Take advantage of free fitness classes on YouTube, live classes with experts on Instagram and Facebook or programs like the YMCA’s Ythrive Home. There’s so much content available amid the pandemic, so this is a chance to find something that fits your interests and fitness level.
Use what you have. There are lots of no-equipment-required exercises—like jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups, squats, planks and sit-ups—that use your body weight and can be done in a small space. If you have access to stairs in your home, stair climbing is also an amazing cardiovascular workout. Soup cans, water bottles, laundry detergent jugs and similar items can be used as hand weights and nylons or tights can double as resistance bands to really elevate a home workout.
Have fun. Video games including Just Dance or Wii Fit are a great way to get moving yourself or with the whole family. Playing an active game like tag or Twister, starting an impromptu dance party or chasing your pets around the yard will also get your heart pumping and release powerful, feel-good endorphins.
Stay challenged. Even though we’re physically distant, social support is still more important than ever. If you’re having a hard time getting motivated, find a workout buddy and meet over Zoom or Facetime for a regularly scheduled workout. For some friendly competition, start a virtual step challenge using a fitness tracker or join a social media exercise challenge.
Cleaning for cardio. Everyday activities like vacuuming, sweeping, gardening, laundry or taking out the garbage are surprisingly active (and productive). Try adding lunges, squats, calf raises or bicep curls to these activities for a full body workout.
Sit less and move often. Quarantine can lead to a lot of seated activities, and research has linked prolonged sitting to many health concerns. If you are working from home, aim to stand up every 30 minutes and complete tasks away from your workspace. When watching television, do a few laps during commercials or between episodes and stay moving during phone calls with friends or colleagues.
It can be easy to prioritize work, cleaning and looking after others during a pandemic, leaving your own health and wellness at the bottom of the list. When you are strapped for time, space and energy, remember that every bit of movement you do throughout the day will help to maintain your physical, mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time.